A Day in the Life of a GENEX Breeding Project
Have you ever wondered what a day on a large artificial insemination (A.I.) breeding project is like? The logistics and planning required can seem overwhelming and is often the reason producers choose not to A.I. However, if the logistics can be solved – and they most always can – the advantages of A.I. can help improve the ranch’s bottom line. Think more calves born earlier in the breeding season, the ability to use proven genetics and value-added replacement females.
Follow along as I take you through a recent breeding project and show you why GENEX is known for offering the industry’s best chute‐side service!
I make my way down to the hotel lobby where Justin Hergenreder, GENEX Beef Large Herd Development Manager, is anxiously waiting to get on the road. Justin is the logistics guy on our team. If you are concerned about the facilities, time or labor involved in a breeding project, Justin is the person to talk to. While I grab a cup of coffee and a quick bite to eat, Justin briefs me on the day’s events. We have about 550 total head of cows to breed today at two different locations. Talk about logistics! As always, Justin has a plan, and I am confident the day will go smoothly.
After a quick trip to the local doughnut shop to get a treat for the cowboy crew, we arrive at the ranch. We are just getting there, but the ranch’s cowboy crew has already been hard at work. They have gathered the first group of cows and are just finishing sorting the calves off. Troy Carruthers and Matt Dolezal, GENEX Independent Contractors, arrive about the same time we do, and we get to work setting up the double-stall breeding barn, filling thaw units with water and making sure the A.I. gun warmers are plugged in. The portable breeding barn is the one piece of equipment that makes it possible to breed cows almost anywhere. If you have some kind of corral and alley (portable, temporary or permanent), we can back up our breeding barn to it and, when things are moving smoothly, can easily breed 80 females an hour.
The first cows start rolling through the chute right on schedule. There are about 280 cows to be bred at the first location. We fall quickly into our rolls. Justin, Troy and Matt take turns A.I.ing in a three-man rotation, while I start off the morning thawing semen.
Today, we are using semen from 1AN01300 INVESTMENT. The ranch feeds their own calves, so INVESTMENT was a great choice as his progeny are known to feed well. That, however, isn’t the only reason they chose him. INVESTMENT also has a 103 PregCheck™ ranking. The PregCheck™ fertility ranking system, proprietary to GENEX, is the first of its kind in the beef industry and evaluates an individual sire’s frozen semen conception rate. While everyone knows some A.I. sires get more cows pregnant than others, in the past it was difficult to measure a bull’s conception ability. Now with PregCheck™ rankings, we can do just that! At a 103 ranking, we expect INVESTMENT to achieve about three more pregnancies per 100 breedings than his contemporaries. On the 550 cows we are going to breed today, that’s 16 extra A.I. calves!
We are just finishing up the first group of cows. The cowboy crew loads up their horses and heads five miles down the road to the next group while we clean up the breeding barn, hook it up to Justin’s pick-up and head out. When we arrive at the next location, it’s a tight squeeze for the breeding barn, but we get backed up and get to work putting everything back where it belongs while the crew finishes up sorting.
After a quick breeding barn picnic consisting of Little Debbie ® Honey Buns and Double Stuf OREO cookies (no one said a breeding project would be good for your diet), we are back at work. This time Matt takes a turn thawing semen, and I jump into the breeding rotation.
Even though I’ve been breeding cows for almost 20 years, my job as the GENEX Beef Marketing and Education Manager keeps me at my desk most days, so I love any opportunity to be out on a breeding project. I always learn something and am amazed at how efficiently our team can manage a project of this magnitude. Everyone has a role to play. As I indicated earlier, Justin is the logistics guy. He takes his job very seriously. While he is always up for a joke in the breeding barn, he also sets the tone and keeps things moving. He is also the cleanest A.I. technician I have ever seen; don’t you dare run into him with a poopy glove on! Matt is our Angus genetics and pedigree guru. I would put Matt’s eye for cattle up against just about anyone. He knows what it takes to make a good one. Troy is the energizer bunny of the breeding barn. He never seems to get tired. The rest of us are always willing to take a turn thawing semen so we can stand in one place for a while. Not Troy. He wants to be where the action is.
I look out the back window of the breeding barn, and the corral behind the alley is nearly empty! The last few cows flow smoothly through the barn, and we are finished! We pack everything up and hook the barn to Troy’s pick-up, so he can drop it off where we will be breeding cows tomorrow. There are another 300 to breed tomorrow morning! I hop into the passenger seat of Justin’s truck. It’s been an awesome day. Things couldn’t have gone smoother, but all I want now is a cheeseburger, fries and a hot shower!
This is just one example of a recent GENEX breeding project. Nearly every day of the spring breeding season, our 17 full-time employees and 180 independent contractors are working on breeding projects of all sizes throughout the U.S. Don’t let logistics be the thing that keeps you from using A.I. to add value to your breeding program. Our team has the experience to help you make a plan that will achieve your goals. Whether looking to add value to replacement females, have more calves born earlier in the breeding season or benefit from use of proven genetics, we will be with you every step of the way!