Page 1

HORIZONS Dairy Edition

April 2017






1JE00966 FUTURE {3} 1JE00892 VANDRELL {2}

+733 +208 +713 +217

1JE00964 JODECI {3}

+708 +207

1JE00935 WORLD CUP {5}

+705 +206

1JE00962 DEGROM {3} JH1C +697 +194 1JE00922 RONALDO {3}

+696 +206

1JE00889 PROP JOE {3}

+682 +189

1JE00921 EUSEBIO {4}

+664 +188

1JE00967 FRANKY {4}

+632 +172

1JE00939 NEYMAR {3} JH1C +613 +178 1JE00966 JX Faria Brothers FUTURE {3}-ET

1JE00962 JX Faria Brothers DEGROM {3}-ET

AJCA/4-17, CDCB/4-17. All bulls are JH1F, JH2F unless otherwise indicated.


1JE00955 DIMMER {4}

+609 +172

1JE00961 FRODO {3} JH1C

+601 +173

1JE00935 Co-op AD WORLD CUP {5}-ET

1JE00961 JX Hi-Land Vandrell FRODO {3}


April 2017 Vol. 23/No. 1


Published three times a year for U.S. dairy producers.


ADDRESS CORRESPONDENCE Genex Cooperative, Inc. P.O. Box 469, Shawano, WI 54166 888.333.1783

BOARD OF DIRECTORS John Ruedinger, President Van Dyne, WI, 920.922.9899 Bobby Robertson, 1st Vice President Tahlequah, OK, 918.822.0020 Harold House, 2nd Vice President Nokesville, VA, 571.722.3356 Ronald Totten, Secretary Stafford, WI, 585.344.0758 Jon Wayne Danielson Cadott, WI, 715.289.3860 Patrick Dugan Casa Grande, AZ, 520.251.6455 Terry Frost Roundup, MT, 406.323.3415 Israel Handy St. Johnsville, NY, 518.568.5476 Lamar Gockley Mohnton, PA, 717.283.5586 Kay Olson-Martz Friendship, WI, 608.564.7359


CONTENTS 04 State of the Cooperative 05 Greene Retires from GENEX Board 06 Top 10 Reasons to be a

GENEX Delegate 07 In the News GENEX Increases Market Share

Jody Schaap Woodstock, MN, 507.215.2257

10 A New Class of Jersey Sires

Daniel Tetreault Champlain, NY, 518.298.8690

11 ICC$ All-Stars and Familiar Favorites

Bill Zimmerman Foley, MN, 320.355.2191

HORIZONS STAFF Jenny L. Hanson, Editor,


12 The Reality of Ideal at Dykstra Dairy in Iowa

16 Your Source for Innovation The International Center for Biotechnology

18 Cow Monitoring to Fit Your Herd SCR Heatime® monitoring systems

19 Once and Done RumiLife® CAL24™ nutritional supplement

21 Creating an Ideal Commercial Cow

through Strategic Breeding 22 Selecting Recipients

for Embryo Transfer 24 Non-Injectable Factors

to Improve Reproduction 27 Award-Winning Genetics

and Reproduction A Look at the Practices and Results of This Year’s Winners

Andy Graf, Graphic Designer

REPRINTS Material may not be reproduced in any fashion without permission from GENEX Genex Cooperative, Inc. agents or employees, cannot and do not guarantee the conception rate, quality or productivity to be obtained in connection with the use of their products or recommended techniques. THEY MAKE NO WA R R A N T I E S O F A N Y K I N D W H AT S O E V E R E X P R E S S E D O R IMPLIED WHICH E X TENDS BE YOND THE DESCRIP TION OF THE PRODUC TS A ND HEREBY DISCL A IM A L L WA RR A NTIES OF MERCHANTABILIT Y AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICUL AR PURPOSE. In the unlikely event that any of the products shall be proven to be defective, damages resulting from their use shall be limited to their purchase price.

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE GENEX is the trusted provider of world-class animal genetics, progressive reproductive solutions, value-added products and innovative services to members and customers.

State of the Cooperative

Keith Heikes, GENEX Chief Operating Officer, addressed the member‑elected producer delegates at the annual meeting in January. Below are excerpts from his state of the cooperative address. 2016 was a challenging year for your cooperative. Low dairy prices for the second year in a row affected our financial results much like they did other agricultural businesses. Similarly, U.S. beef prices retreated from record highs, thus limiting GENEX growth in a segment where we had experienced double-digit growth the past few years. Additionally, over the past decade and a half we have grown accustomed to substantial increases in international revenue, but the combination of low global dairy prices and a strong dollar stopped this trend. In short, low dairy and beef prices coupled with the strong dollar formed stronger headwinds than ever before resulting in a negative bottom line for the year. The challenging economics were recognized early in the year and expense reductions put in place. We reduced capital and other expenses while remaining focused on our strategic plan. Among the cooperative’s major activities during the year was the restructuring of the GENESIS program, decentralizing the program to house fewer recipient animals at GENEX facilities. The decision was also made to sell the Mitchell, South Dakota, production facility. This decision enabled us to focus further on our other facilities as we continue to invest time and energy in improving the quality of our beef semen product.




Furthermore, plans were put in place to consolidate the domestic and international distribution operations to our Shawano, Wisconsin, facility. In December, we introduced the newest version of the Ideal Commercial Cow index, a Holstein sire index for commercial dairies. Three new health trait breeding values for subclinical ketosis, foot health and metritis were added to the index. The health traits were a collaborative effort between GENEX, AgSource Cooperative Services and the CRI International Center for Biotechnology. We believe this collaboration, and the new traits, are the first of many to come. While 2016 was not a banner year from a financial standpoint, GENEX made strides in market share growth. According to our industry trade association – the National Association of Animal Breeders – during our 12-month fiscal year (October 2015 to September 2016) the industry as a whole was down over 1 million units in semen sales. In that same timeframe, GENEX experienced a 250,000 unit gain over the previous year. This included a new record in Jersey semen sales. For the first time ever, we surpassed 1 million units in Jersey sales. While economic factors impacted the cooperative’s financial success, the past year has been productive if measured by program and product development along with structure changes designed to fulfill the strategic plan. The short-term struggles are significant and yet the long-term outlook for production agriculture is outstanding. 

Greene Retires from GENEX Board

“Paul’s ability to engage the entire board in open discussion is a true talent.” Keith Heikes, GENEX COO

Chief Operating Officer Keith Heikes (left) thanks retiring board president Paul Greene (right) for his years of service.

During the January 25 annual meeting of GENEX, Paul Greene of Berlin, New York, retired as board president. His last president’s address paints a picture of his first years as a board member, the changes he’s seen in the A.I. industry and the opportunities members have when running for a position on the board. Paul states, “In 1996 I was elected to the Eastern A.I. board of directors, a predecessor of GENEX. Eastern A.I. was a regional cooperative headquartered in Ithaca, New York. In 1996, one of our major board room discussions was about structure – how to grow and expand the cooperative. At that time, a herd with 1,000 cows was considered a mega herd. Sexed semen was only a vision; if you wanted a heifer calf you had a 50:50 chance. The term ‘young sire’ was an unproved bull whose semen was sold to progeny test herds. And, we could recite the credentials on nearly every bull in the stud. “Many things have changed in the 20 years I have been on the board of directors. By far the two greatest events to impact the A.I. industry were sorted semen and genomics. These two topics have impacted nearly every aspect of GENEX. Sire housing had to be revamped,

production schedules were analyzed and the Genetics Department responsibilities were completely reevaluated. Sorted semen and genomics have forced us to initiate a structure driven by economics and production. “The industry is on the front end of many other technology developments. I firmly believe our purchase of the CRI International Center for Biotechnology will provide us with the ability to maximize research capabilities. “I would like each of you to consider running for the GENEX board of directors. Yes, you will have to manage things a little differently at home, but the things you learn and the opportunities you have will be nothing short of amazing. I know they were for me for the last 20 years.” Before the crowd of delegates, GENEX Chief Operating Officer Keith Heikes commended Paul for his years of service. “Paul has been a steady hand at the wheel, and I certainly have appreciated his guidance and input. Paul’s ability to engage the entire board in open discussion is a true talent.” Elected to fill the director position left by Paul is Israel Handy, a dairy producer from St. Johnsville, New York. 

Following the annual meeting, the GENEX board elected the executive team: John Ruedinger President

Bobby Robertson 1st Vice President

Harold House 2nd Vice President

Ron Totten Secretary HORIZONS



Top 10 Reasons to be a GENEX delegate The third week of January is often characterized by blowing snow and frigid temps, but in most cases, that doesn’t stop GENEX delegates from convening in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the cooperative’s annual meeting. This year, delegates from 26 states made the trek. For repeat visitors, the annual meeting is a time to catch up with fellow producers and GENEX management. For new delegates, it’s an opportunity to really learn more about the inner workings of the co-op. Much more than a meeting. While “annual meeting” may sound like a bore, the GENEX meeting is so much more! In addition to the business meeting and evening entertainment, the event includes educational opportunities. This year the co-op held five breakout sessions featuring 11 topics for delegates to gain cooperative or farm management insight. Topics ranged from cybersecurity to beef in Brazil and from research updates to the beef lineup and the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index. Time and time again, these breakout sessions are a fan favorite. This year was no different. Your reasons. How does a GENEX member get the opportunity to attend the annual meeting? First, members must self-nominate for the delegate election. Then the members in the local membership district cast their vote on who should be a delegate. If elected, delegates are invited (and expected) to attend the annual meeting in January and an input meeting in the fall. Why would you want to become a delegate and attend the annual meeting? Here’s the Top 10 reasons, as shared by delegates at this year’s GENEX annual meeting. 10. Gets you away from the farm or ranch and that daily routine! 9. A chance to meet producers from across the country. 8. It’s a matter of give and take (contribute to the co-op and learn). 7. It’s a family affair – My family’s been members of co-ops since the 1920s. 6. GENEX is the best show in town, and we want to keep it that way! 5. Delegate input keeps the organization healthy. 4. Reuniting with fellow delegates that I only see once a year. 3. Cooperatives educate their delegates and members. 2. Find out the inside-scoop on the new happenings at GENEX. 1. We got voted in! If becoming a delegate and attending the annual meeting interests you, watch for your next opportunity to self-nominate.  6



Here’s what delegates had to say about the annual meeting educational sessions: Cybersecurity “I appreciated the ‘take home’ suggestions on what to do to protect my data. I will do so as soon as this conference is done!” Learning from the Future “Fascinating subject! Definitely affects how I think about the future of our dairy.” Beef in Brazil “I learned how beef producers in Brazil are trying to crossbreed to improve their product. They are starting with consistent animals so they should be able to produce a good, ‘like’ F1s.” Delegates in attendance at the January 2017 annual meeting.

Handy Elected to GENEX Board of Directors

GENEX Increases Market Share GENEX reached record level domestic market share during 2016, according to data recently released by the National Association of Animal Breeders (NAAB), the industry’s trade association. “While NAAB statistics show the overall industry experienced a 1.2 million unit decrease in semen sales during 2016, GENEX increased sales by 180,000,” states Keith Heikes, GENEX COO. “The gains at GENEX mean the rest of the industry in fact experienced a 1.4 million unit loss.”

At the GENEX annual meeting Jan. 25 in Bloomington, Minnesota, dairy producer Israel Handy of St. Johnsville, New York, was elected to the cooperative’s board of directors. Israel first became involved in GENEX governance in 2006, when elected by members (fellow dairy and beef producers) to serve as a delegate. In years since, he has represented area members at the cooperative’s annual meeting and fall input sessions. Israel operates Handy Hills Farm, a 90-cow dairy, and relies on GENEX for semen, cattle artificial insemination service and herd management products like calf coats and milking gloves. He replaces dairy producer Paul Greene of Berlin, New York, who retired from the board after 20 years of service. 

In addition to an increase in overall market share, GENEX reached its highest market share in history for beef semen units sold internationally. According to Heikes, more than one out of every three units of U.S. beef semen sold internationally during 2016 came from a GENEX sire. The cooperative experienced tremendous growth in Jersey sales for the year as well. This adds to the steady growth achieved throughout the past decade. Since 2011, GENEX has more than doubled the number of Jersey units sold annually. In comparing total units of GENEX dairy and beef semen sold to past levels, Heikes indicates overall unit sales were 76% higher in 2016 than they were 10 years ago. “This is the result of GENEX continually striving to lead the way with profitable, science-based genetics producers can trust,” explains Keith. 

GENEX to Change Delegate Election Cycle Based on delegate input, the GENEX board of directors is changing the annual membership qualification period and delegate election timeframe. Starting in 2018, the membership qualification period will be May 1 through April 30. For example, to qualify as a member in 2018, a customer must spend $500 on GENEX semen, products and/or services between May 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017. In addition, they need to have a membership agreement on file. Delegate nominations will then take place each June with elections held in July. Only those who qualify as a member can be nominated and elected as a delegate. The current delegates and alternates (who were elected in December 2016) will serve through the 2018 annual meeting and until the next elections are held in July 2018. 

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Lifetime Net Merit Formula Updated

Don’t sweat it! Prepare your cattle

With the April sire summary, the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding altered the Lifetime Net Merit (LNM$) formula to include Cow Livability (LIV) and Body Weight Composite (BWC).

for the summer heat.

LIV, first introduced in August 2016, is a prediction of a cow’s transmitting ability to remain alive while in the milking herd. Said another way, it’s the probability of a lactation to not end in death. LIV has a 7% weighting in the LNM$ formula. To allow for LIV, the Productive Life weighting decreased from 19% to 14%. LIV has a heritability of 1.3%.

Traits Included in Lifetime Net Merit He

SCS -7%

a l th

Prod. Life 13%

it Tra s4

Feed RumiLife Electrolyte M nutritional supplement to mature cattle to help maintain normal hydration, electrolyte balance and dry matter intake. ®

BWC replaced Body Size Composite within the LNM$ formula. BWC is a component to improve feed efficiency by accurately estimating the body weight of cows. BWC has a -5.9% weighting in the new LNM$ formula. 

raits 43% uc t i o n T

DPR 7%



Fat 24%

. 3%

Milk -1%

Body Weight Comp. -6%

FL Comp

888.333.1783 //


Contact your GENEX representative for more information.


Protein 18%

Cow Conception Rate 2%


ity 7%





Udder Comp. 7%

C o nfo r m atio n

16% ©2017 CRI

JPI™ Updated with April Proofs Traits Included in JPI™ Protein 30% Fat 15%

BWC 7%

CFP Milk -8%


d. L

Udders 12.8%

HCR 2% CCR 2% Mobility 0.2%




SCS 6%


DPR 7%



ab Liv



Three new traits were added to the Jersey Production Index™ (JPI™): Combined Fat and Protein Milk (CFP Milk), Body Weight Composite (BWC) and Livability (LIV). CFP Milk considers the production level and density of milk (specifically the Fat and Protein components). The trait recognizes the importance of component-rich milk yield. With the addition of LIV, a prediction of a cow’s transmitting ability to remain alive while in the milking herd,

Heifer Conception Rate 1%

at 4% weighting, some weighting was taken off Productive Life. BWC, which serves as a proxy for feed efficiency, considers Stature, Strength, Rump Width and Dairy Form. BWC was given a 7% weighting within JPI™. Overall, 53% of the emphasis in JPI™ is on production (-5% from the previous version), 27% on fitness (no change) and 20% on functional type (+5%). 


A Healthier Herd,

A Happier You.

1HO11989 Hollermann Silver ROMERO-ET






1097 101









1072 100









1058 104










1054 102










1044 104










1040 102










1026 100









1022 100








1HO11694 MICKY

1012 100








1HO11960 REZIN

1007 100









1HO12418 Zimmerview Tes DARKSIDE-ET

Subclinical Ketosis (SCK), Metritis (MTR) and Foot Health (FH) are set to a base of 100. Values over 100 are above average. Values under 100 are below average. CDCB/4-17, HA-USA/4-17, IB-M/USA/4-17, HA-M/USA/4-17, CDN/4-17, GENEX/4-17

A New Class

of Jersey Sires

GENEX has debuted eight new Jersey sires, including one at +733 Cheese Merit (CM$). This brings the total lineup, which is focused on genetics for component‑driven milk production from efficient and healthy cows, to nearly 50 sires.

1JE00961 FRODO {3} joins the lineup at +173 JPI™ and just over +600 CM$. A Vandrell out of a VG Galvanize, FRODO {3} adds balanced production at +1189 Milk and +120 CFP. He’s ideal for use in heifer pens with a +2.6 Heifer Conception Rate.

Faria Brothers Marvel Messi {4}, VG-84%, dam of FUTURE {3} and DEGROM {3}

Outstanding Family The family of JX Faria Brothers Action Dean Smith {1}, EX-92% maintains leadership positions near the top of industry lists. With the April sire summary, son 1JE00892 VANDRELL {2} increased his elite CM$ yield to +713, and he leads the lineup for JPI™ at +217. 1JE00922 RONALDO {3}, a grandson of Action Dean Smith, possesses an impressive +153 CFP value and excels for both indexes: +206 JPI™ and +696 CM$. 

Faria Brothers Action Dean Smith {1}, EX-92% (9th lactation), dam of VANDRELL {2} and MGD of RONALDO {3}




The new release 1JE00966 FUTURE {3} tops the GENEX list for CM$ at +733. His CM$ rank is backed by +125 Combined Fat & Protein (CFP) and positive Fat and Protein percentages. This early Marlo son out of a Marvel dam is +208 JPI™ while also transmitting daughter fertility (+0.5 Daughter Pregnancy Rate) and elite udders (+29.4 JUI™). New sire 1JE00962 DEGROM {3} is a full brother to FUTURE {3}. This bull combines good production (+114 CFP) with attractive and functional udders (+27.0 JUI™). He joins the lineup at +697 CM$ and +194 JPI™ and should sire long-lasting daughters with a +7.4 Productive Life (PL). A Harris out of an Aztec, 1JE00967 FRANKY {4} is a new sire with +80 Fat and +54 Protein for a notable +134 CFP. This +632 CM$ and +172 JPI™ bull can be used to improve milk quality too, with his low +2.77 Somatic Cell Score (SCS).

Production powerhouse 1JE00956 RUTH {3} is the lineup’s new leader for Milk at +1951. This comes with an impressive +144 CFP. The Harris son is +578 CM$ and +176 JPI™ and will improve udders (+15.7 JUI™) as well. Another new release, 1JE00958 NICO {5}, provides a balanced genetic profile for production and type. He is +175 JPI™ and +573 CM$ with +118 CFP. This sire also improves udders (+18.5 JUI™), longevity (+4.7 Productive Life) and milk quality (+2.82 SCS). A Vandrell son, 1JE00968 INTEL {3}, earns his spot in the lineup at +164 JPI™ and +561 CM$. He is +108 CFP and adds fluid production at nearly +1400 Milk. With a +0.7 Cow Conception Rate and a +2.0 Heifer Conception Rate, INTEL {3} should add fertility to any breeding program. 1JE00937 BIRDMAN {3} rounds out the new releases at +509 CM$. This Harris out of a Renegade is another strong production sire with +1650 Milk and +121 CFP. 

ICC$ All-Stars

and Familiar Favorites Topping the lineup as the leading creator of ideal commercial cows is the Josuper son, 1HO11955 BEYOND. He’s +1097 for the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index with a practical combination of calving ease, health traits and production. BEYOND has a +1.7 Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR) and +8.7 Productive Life (PL) with 6.7% Sire Calving Ease (SCE). He also boosts production and component yields with his +1784 Milk and +135 Combined Fat & Protein (CFP). 1HO11665 GENIUS ranks second for the ICC$ index at +1072. This Montross son has an elite genetic profile offering plentiful production (+1861 Milk, +137 CFP) and outstanding udders and feet and legs. From the Super Apple family, 1HO11889 AVENGER has a +1058 ICC$ with an attractive combination of +4.6 DPR and +8.9 PL. AVENGER can be used with confidence to sire moderate-framed daughters with desirable body condition (110 Body Condition Score). Daughters should also transition well as AVENGER excels for two proprietary GENEX health traits at 104 Subclinical Ketosis (SCK) and 109 Metritis (MTR). Ranking fourth for the ICC$ index and sporting a +2728 TPI® and +907 Lifetime Net Merit (LNM$) is the new release 1HO11989 ROMERO. This all-round index sire is the complete package offering production (+1115 Milk, +128 CFP), fertility (103 PregCheck™) and longevity (+9.1 PL). Rounding out the top five ICC$ sires is another new release, a Telsa son 1HO12418 DARKSIDE. His +9.3 PL, 108 Body Condition Score, 104 SCK,

104 MTR and +2.74 Somatic Cell Score earn him a place in the top 10 for the ICC$ Health sub-index. In addition, he transmits positive component percentages (+0.17% Fat, +0.08% Protein) and daughter fertility (+4.4 DPR) in a calving ease package (6.1% SCE). Those lineup leaders are backed by a new Bayonet son from the well-known Sharky Robin family: 1HO12433 ROCKSTAR at +1026 ICC$ and +2732 TPI®. ROCKSTAR checks all the boxes for production, health and longevity. At a 6.6% SCE, he’s also a great option for heifer pens. ROCKSTAR is joined by a full brother, 1HO12428 RAIDEN, at +983 ICC$ and +2739 TPI®.

Hollermann Cabriolet 960, dam of ROMERO and daughter of CABRIOLET

Among daughter-proven sires, 1HO10396 CABRIOLET ranks No. 1 in the industry for LNM$ at +875. More than 4,200 daughters show this sire transmits excellent production (+960 Milk, +151 CFP) and longevity (+7.4) while being safe for use in heifer pens (4.7% SCE). 

Specialty Sires Co-op Moonboy Rescue-ET, VG-85, VG-MS, dam of ROCKSTAR and RAIDEN

First released as a genomic giant in February, 1HO11960 REZIN has an excellent combination of production and type. This Montross son offers elite +2013 Milk, +143 CFP and +2.00 Type. Look to REZIN for his striking production and daughter fertility (+2.1 DPR). Since released in August 2016, 1HO11905 BLOWTORCH has earned his spot in many breeding programs. He ranks high for both ICC$ (+1006) and TPI® (+2752). Use this Silver son for Type (+2.07), tremendous udders (+1.71 Udder Composite) and milking ability (+1604 Milk, 108 Mastitis Resistance).

New release 1HO12427 AVERY‑RED is a high Type (+2.05) Red and White sire. This Olympian *RC son out of a Supersire adds variety while also improving udders (+1.88 Udder Composite). 1HO12423 KATANA-P is a new Tesla son that can add pedigree diversity to any polled breeding program. With a 6.7% SCE and +1573 Milk, use KATANA-P in the heifer pens to improve farm profits. He’s also over +1.00 on all type indexes. 




The Reality of


By: Leah James, U.S. Dairy Marketing Manager

When sitting down with Darin Dykstra of Dykstra Dairy in Maurice, Iowa, it doesn’t take long to discover the passion he has for genetics and Holstein cows. A discussion with Darin on either of those topics is quick to reveal the realities of breeding for the ideal commercial Holstein cow.

A Great Cow When asked about genetic selection, Darin shares his breeding philosophy without hesitation. His philosophy matches that of the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index. Established to meet members’ requests for a better selection tool that addresses the needs of modern dairying, the ICC$ index is a Holstein sire ranking tool that encompasses real-time economic indicators, science-based genetic principles and data points from multiple sources. Darin fully embraced the concept of ICC$ when GENEX first released the genetic index nearly three years ago. As he explains, he uses ICC$ as a selection index because he wants a “functional, durable, long‑lasting cow that produces lots of high component milk.” He adds, “That is a great cow for any commercial dairy farmer.”

Genetic Goals

Dykstra Dairy, tucked in the northwest corner of Iowa, is home to 3,000 Holsteins milked three times a day. All the milk is shipped to Wells Blue Bunny® to be made into ice cream. 12



More specifically, use of ICC$ helps Dykstra Dairy achieve genetic progress in specific areas: 1) selection for Fat and Protein yield contributes to production efficiency so the dairy can ship the most total pounds of components possible, 2) emphasis on fitness and fertility promotes a solid reproductive program and 3) attention to health traits leads to durable cows with fewer health events.

Darin Dykstra selects for functional, durable, long-lasting cows that produce high component milk. He uses the ICC$ index.

On the topic of durable cows, Darin notes, “The less events she has on her cow card, the better.” Similar to other commercial dairies, there’s another area of genetic focus at Dykstra Dairy that can’t be overlooked – one that contributes to efficiency. “The Ideal Commercial Cow index is where we need to go because we are focusing on smaller cows,” explains Darin. “That’s what we are breeding for.”

Genetics Drive Progress Since the summer of 2014 when Dykstra Dairy began using ICC$ as the main sire selection criteria, performance in specific areas has steadily improved. Kim Egan, a GENEX National Dairy Account Manager with a doctorate in veterinary medicine, monitors the genetic progress through DairyComp 305 records. As Kim states, “It’s exciting to break down the genetics within the herd and compare genetics to actual cow performance. The results confirm the effectiveness of ICC$ as the main selection tool.” When analyzing Dykstra Dairy herd performance data, Kim points out that high ICC$ females experience fewer health events and outperform their herdmates on fertility. In fact, the highest third of the herd (those over +500 ICC$) recorded an annual pregnancy rate of 25% while the

rest of the herd averaged 21.5%. In the heifer pen, the difference was even more notable. Heifers over +600 ICC$ had an annual pregnancy rate of 36% while those under +500 ICC$ averaged 27% (see table below).

The fresh cow pen is another location where performance improves based on genetics. A noticeable difference can be seen in metritis events. Those cows over +500 ICC$ had a metritis rate of 14.5% while 31.5% of cows under +250 ICC$ experienced metritis.

Annual Pregnancy Rates by ICC$ Level

With the recent addition of Metritis (MTR), Subclinical Ketosis (SCK) and Foot Health (FH) into the ICC$ index, Darin looks forward to even more progress for health and durability. ”Metritis, ketosis and lameness are three issues that affect a cow’s ability to remain productive in the herd. While I’ve always selected for healthy cows – first through Lifetime Net Merit and now through ICC$ – I fully expect to see further reduction in these issues through continued selection for ICC$.”

Pregnancy Rates Cows > +500 ICC$


Cows < +500 ICC$


Heifers > +600 ICC$


Heifers < +500 ICC$


When evaluating fertility, Kim also examines abortion rates. In the Dykstra herd, cows over +500 ICC$ recorded a 3.2% abortion rate while the cows less than +250 ICC$ averaged an abortion rate of 12.3%. Heifers over +500 ICC$ had a mere 1.5% abortion rate while heifers below +250 ICC$ had an abortion rate of 7.2% (see table below). Annual Abortion Rates by ICC$ Level Abortion Rates Cows > +500 ICC$


Cows < +250 ICC$


Heifers > +500 ICC$


Heifers < +250 ICC$


Finally, when asked why he uses the ICC$ index, Darin shares, “Because I’m a commercial dairy farmer first and foremost. We run a lot of cows through the parlor. We want cows that work in our system very well. We don’t want to spend a lot of time on individual cows. We want the system to be smooth and efficient. “That’s why I like ICC$. It focuses selection on exactly what it says, the Ideal Commercial Cow. That’s what we are looking for!” 




5% Calving Ability (CABL$) 10% Milking Ability (MABL$)

Five Sub-Indexes

Target Specific Management Areas

15% Fertility and Fitness (FYFT$)

46% Production Efficiency (PREF$)

24% Health (HLTH$)

Sub-Indexes Included in ICC$

The Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index is the ideal selection tool for creating commercial cows. The index is the summation of five easy-to-use sub‑indexes: Health, Production Efficiency, Fertility and Fitness, Milking Ability, and Calving Ability. The sub-indexes enable producers to narrow their genetic emphasis to specific areas of farm management.

Production Efficiency (PREF$) pinpoints genetics resulting in high yielding cows with lower feed costs. Emphasis is placed on pounds of protein. Use of PREF$ and ICC$ reverses the trend for taller cows.

Health (HLTH$) breeds for improved, sustainable health and longevity. High-ranking HLTH$ bulls have daughters with proper body condition, low somatic cell scores and excellent locomotion. With inclusion of the proprietary health traits SCK, MTR and FH, this sub-index also selects for lower predicted blood BHBA and fewer cases of metritis and lameness.

Fertility and Fitness (FYFT$) emphasizes reproductive efficiency. Bulls with high FYFT$ rankings result in optimal age at first calving, reduced days open and shorter calving intervals.

Milking Ability (MABL$) optimizes efficiency with troublefree milking cows. MABL$ includes mastitis resistance, milking speed and temperament, and ideal commercial udder conformation and function. Ideal udders have strong attachments, are above the hock, and include proper teat placement and length. MABL$ also enhances udder texture and manages the emerging trend of short teat length.

Calving Ability (CABL$) focuses on live calves born without difficulty. High-ranking CABL$ sires with high ICC$ values can maximize genetic progress in heifer pens while ensuring an easy transition into the milking string.

36% 36% 18% 10%

Marginal Feed Costs Protein Yield Fat Yield Milk Yield

31% Productive Life 27% Locomotion 18% Somatic Cell Score 6% Body Condition Score 6% Foot Health 6% Subclinical Ketosis 6% Metritis

51% 36% 6% 5% 2%

Daughter Pregnancy Rate Heifer Conception Rate Cow Conception Rate Polled Genotype Fertility Haplotypes

70% 15% 12% 3%

Udder Traits Mastitis Resistance Milking Speed Milking Temperament

45% 29% 16% 10%

Sire Calving Ease Daughter Stillbirth Daughter Calving Ease Sire Stillbirth

“Development of the SCK, MTR and FH breeding values is another example of GENEX’s dedication to data-driven innovation for the genetic improvement of members’ herds.” 14



Keith Heikes, GENEX COO


Genetics for the Ideal Commercial Cow

Incorporating genetic evaluations from multiple sources to maximize your genetic advantage! CRI International Center for Biotechnology

• More than 42 million recorded health events and over 8.5 million cows

Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding • Over 1.4 million genotypes and 95 million female phenotypic records

Canadian Dairy Network

Photo by Sarah Damrow.

• Over 1 million genotypes

Your Source

for Innovation By: Robert Fourdraine, Vice President, Research and Development, CRI




Last December, breeding for a healthier herd got a little easier with the release of proprietary breeding values for Subclinical Ketosis (SCK), Metritis (MTR) and Foot Health (FH). These values were published individually and incorporated into the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index. Developing new and reliable innovative traits – like SCK, MTR and FH – takes both a lot of data and a lot of data analysis expertise. GENEX, which is part of Cooperative Resources International (CRI), relies on the CRI International Center for Biotechnology (ICB) for data housing and analysis. The ICB is the hub of CRI research and development headquartered in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. With stateof-the-art facilities and a highly skilled team of research scientists, the ICB is dedicated to improving animal health, reproduction and productivity through research, education and the application of new technologies. These efforts are further enhanced through collaboration with universities and other scientists.

Through the ICB, GENEX and other brands of CRI are able to capitalize on the latest research to further establish themselves as industry pioneers through continued advancement in andrology, embryology, endocrinology, genetics, stem cells and information management.

Proprietary Health Traits The GENEX proprietary health traits – SCK, MTR and FH – were developed by ICB research scientists. They calculated the SCK breeding values, which enable producers to breed for cows that transition better and have lower incidence of ketosis, using data from KetoMonitor®, a management tool monitoring herd ketosis prevalence through layering of milk-based diagnostics and individual cow data. (KetoMonitor® is available from AgSource Cooperative Services and was developed in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Dairy Science and School of Veterinary Medicine.)

During their data analysis, the ICB research scientists also found that cows with subclinical ketosis have 3.4-8.2 pounds lower peak milk yield, up to 18,000 higher somatic cell count, 5-7% lower first service conception rates, 5-8% higher cull rates and 3-4% higher risk for displaced abomasum (DA). The research scientists developed MTR and FH based on analysis of CRI’s research database, which contains over 8.5 million cows and more than 42 million recorded health events. As a genetic selection tool, MTR helps producers manage the cost and impact of metritis in future generations, and FH leads to cows with fewer foot health issues.

On the Horizon Additional proprietary traits are on the horizon. GENEX understands that producers are facing more complex problems and the need to obtain useful information to make more informed decisions is paramount. In collaboration with ICB researchers, GENEX will continue to provide innovative traits, products and services to meet the needs of members and customers. 

CRI ICB Areas of Expertise Reproduction Genetics Animal health Data analysis Stem cells Other related scientific fields




Same long-lasting Allflex head and special shock absorbing shell

• Madeand with same special UV-resistant material as other long life Allflex The SCR cSense neck collar provides activity rumination monitoring from thetagstraditional location on the neck and is a long-lasting solution to herd monitoring.

COW FIT YOUR HERD Operates with SCR milking points andMONITORING sort gate cSenseTO Neck Collar

Cow Monitoring

The SCR cSense neck collar wearable providesoptions: activity rumination monitoring from the traditional SCR now offers activity and rumination monitoring from two different theand NEW eSense ear tag onear thetagneck andcSense is a long-lasting herd monitoring. and the cSense neck collar. Pick eitherlocation the eSense OR the neck collar tosolution accuratelytoidentify estrus and measure rumination in your cows or heifers. Both wearables transmit data back to the SCR software and provide actionable insights and reports health, reproduction, wellbeing. • onOperates with SCRnutrition milkingand points and sort gate

to Fit Your Herd By: Rich Petrie, Resale Product Advisor NEW eSense Ear Tag

Activity and rumination monitoring combined with the industry’s leading ear tag manufacturer. SCR’s NEW eSense ear

tag is lightweight and durable option to monitor your herd without the added weights and straps of the collar. One corn seed. That’s what you start out with. Monitoring and caring for that seedling is a piece of cake. • Lightweight and flexible allows for great retention Now multiply that seed by hundreds or thousands. Is monitoring those • Same long-lasting Allflex head and specialall shockof absorbing shell seeds as easy? Of course it • Made with same special UV-resistant material as other long life Allflex tags isn’t, which is why you invest in programs and tools to make the job easier. While some may laugh at the thought of a producer walking through his or her fields to check each individual seed, they forget many cSense Neck Collar farmers do this daily – only with cows. Farmers are constantly walking through the barns to check cows for The SCR cSense neck collar provides activity and rumination monitoring from the traditional location on the neck and is a long-lasting solution to herd monitoring. heat events or health concerns. But just as you don’t expect to monitor each individual seed, why should • Operates with SCR milking points and sort gate you have to manually monitor each individual cow?

The landscape for dairy herd monitoring continues to change rapidly along with each operation’s specific needs. With technology advancing and operations becoming larger and busier, the health signs of each cow can be harder to detect. Think how difficult it can be to identify a sick cow until she is past subclinical. Sick cows can set an operation back in terms of productivity, time, man power and medication. On top of it, those sick cows may never fully recover. Prevention and early detection is key to success.

“The use of the SCR Heatime system has helped narrow down the number of cows we need to focus on and has reduced the time spent in the fresh group pen by 50%. We love the simplicity and convenience of the eSense ear tag monitoring option. The ear tags are easy to install and transfer between animals when needed.” ®

John Ruedinger, Ruedinger Farms Inc., Van Dyne, Wisconsin




To better monitor a herd and provide peace of mind, GENEX offers SCR Heatime® monitoring systems. The SCR Heatime® monitoring system offers:

Breeding Benefits: Easy to use breeding lists with the ability to create separate reports Reports provide earlier diagnosis and intervention of repro problems Superior heat detection due to proprietary algorithms using activity, rumination and other parameters Options to reduce hormone dependency 40-80%

Health Benefits: Identify sick cows 1-3 days sooner than a physical evaluation1 Determine and measure cow treatment using rumination data Reduce cow stress by lowering lock-up times

Nutrition Benefits: Monitor response to nutrition and ration changes Analyze effectiveness of feed additives Identify concerns regarding mixing and feed delivery

To help meet an operation’s herd monitoring needs, GENEX now offers multiple SCR Heatime® options. The addition of the new eSense ear tag provides opportunity to choose between a cSense neck collar or an eSense ear tag monitoring device. Both devices effectively transmit data back to the SCR software and provide actionable insights and reports on cow health, reproduction, nutrition and wellbeing. The eSense ear tag was designed by the industry’s leading ear tag manufacturer, Allflex®, and provides activity and rumination monitoring. SCR’s new eSense ear tag is a lightweight and durable option to monitor a herd without the added weights and straps of the collar. The eSense ear tags are now available for herd monitoring needs. Contact your GENEX representative for more information.  (1) Stangaferro, M.L., Wijma, R., Caixeta, L.S., Al-Abri, M.A., & Giordano, J.O. (2016). Use of rumination and activity monitoring for the identification of dairy cows with health disorders: Part I. Metabolic and digestive disorders. Journal of Dairy Science, 99(9), 7395-7410. SCR Heatime® monitoring system is available in the U.S. only.

Once and Done By: Kirsten French, Resale Product Advisor

Hypocalcemia, or milk fever, is the result of a reduction of blood calcium in the early stages of lactation. Hypocalcemia is all too common in the dairy cattle industry. The average herd experiences subclinical hypocalcemia in up to 50% of their cows.1 Hypocalcemia can affect a cow in many ways. It can lead to increased injury, decreased feed intake, increased risk of ketosis, increased risk of displaced abomasum and lower milk production.1 Subclinical milk fever, where symptoms are not visible, can be associated with an increased risk of metritis, increased risk of fever, lower pregnancy rates and increased days open, all costing an average of $125 per case.1 Understanding the economic impact and hearing members’ requests for a product to help alleviate milk fever as efficiently as possible, GENEX set out to create a calcium bolus that could benefit members’ herds.

What causes milk fever? The average cow has approximately 10 grams of calcium available in her extracellular fluid. However, during the transition period cows can need 4-10 times more calcium to finish developing a calf, produce colostrum and begin milk production. This drastic increase in calcium demand within a short period of time can cause calcium deficiency and lead to milk fever.

In developing this bolus, GENEX took into consideration members’ input regarding administration, shape and size. Other calcium boluses on the market require two administrations: one immediately after calving and a second 12 hours later. While bolus administration is necessary, catching a cow twice is inconvenient. Concerns were also voiced about the shape and coating of other calcium supplement products, noting large boluses should be shaped to glide down a throat and have a slick coating so they can be easily swallowed. In addition, research indicated vitamin D and magnesium are necessary for the transfer of calcium into the blood stream.

Driven to meet members’ needs, GENEX has created a calcium bolus that can give producers peace of mind: RumiLife® CAL24™ nutritional supplement. What makes this calcium bolus unique? One package, containing two boluses, provides enough calcium so producers don’t have to catch the cow a second time. That is right. Just ONE package of RumiLife® CAL24™ nutritional supplement can be given as opposed to giving a second bolus 12 hours later. Each package contains 100 grams of calcium, a mixture between fast releasing calcium chloride and a slower releasing Calmin. Calmin is a seaweedderived highly available source of calcium and magnesium that is absorbable over time. RumiLife® CAL24™ nutritional supplement is missile shaped and coated which makes it easy for a Jersey or Holstein cow to swallow. RumiLife® CAL24™ nutritional supplement is a calcium supplement suggested by members and made for members. It provides rapid calcium absorption, supplements blood calcium and provides peace of mind. The nutritional supplement is available in boxes of 24 or 60 packages (two boluses per package). Contact your GENEX representative to place an order or for more information, or contact customer service at 888.333.1783.  (1) Oetzel, G. 2012. An update on hypocalcemia on dairy farms. Proceedings of the Four‑State Dairy Nutrition & Management Conference. June 13-14. Dubuque, Iowa.




Strategic Breeding for Achieving the Real Ideal

CONSIDER YOUR GOALS for the future and the number of replacement calves needed to meet those goals.


Calf MathSM program and determine the most effective combination of semen products (dairy or beef conventional semen, GenChoice™ sexed semen with SexedUltra™ or Breeding to FeedingSM program semen).



program to define which females are appropriate for each semen product.

DEVELOP PROTOCOLS for mating and breeding to get the preferred semen product into the designated cows and heifers.

Creating an Ideal Commercial Cow through Strategic Breeding By: Abby Tauchen, Dairy Marketing Program Specialist The team at Hickory Lawn Dairy Farm near Cascade, Wisconsin, thinks strategically to improve their herd’s genetics – to produce ideal commercial cows. Jeremy Schmidt, who manages the herd, says, “When I look at my herd, I want to create a cow that is medium stature, long lasting and feed efficient. I believe the ICC$ index is creating that type of commercial cow in my herd.” He uses the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index, with more emphasis on production and fertility, to breed for the most suitable replacement animals. To further boost genetic progress, he uses a strategic breeding program. The strategic breeding program follows a four‑step process: 1. CONSIDER YOUR GOALS

Jeremy strives to improve the herd’s genetics. His goal is to produce replacements from the highest genetic merit animals, while minimizing the impact of lower genetic merit females.



lists based on the dairy’s desired combination of pedigree and production information. Breeding lists are generated designating that the top 80% cows are bred with conventional semen and the bottom 20% are bred with beef semen.

Cows and heifers are ranked genetically and then designated to be bred with a specific type of semen product. To help with this process, Jeff utilizes the GENEX Sort-Gate program. SM

All heifers are genomic tested, so Jeff uses their genomic evaluations and the Sort-Gate program to rank and group them. At each sire summary, Jeff uses the program to generate a list of heifers that need to be serviced during the following four months. The top 70% of heifers are designated to be bred with sexed semen for two services followed by conventional semen, if needed. The bottom 30% are bred with conventional semen. SM

The dairy has genomic test results on all first and second lactation cows. Jeff uses this information to rank them and indicate the appropriate semen products. For later lactation cows that are not genomic tested, the program generates genetic rank


The GENEX MAP program (Mating Appraisal for Profit ) is used to be sure the correct semen product type and the correct mating is used in all instances. SM


As Jeremy shares, this strategic breeding program has helped to increase the overall genetic merit of the herd. Still, continual review and evaluation is necessary. Each sire summary, the team updates their plan being certain to use the best sires for all categories of the ICC$ Index. In the future, they plan to incorporate flushing high genetic merit females to help achieve genetic progress even faster. 

The team at Hickory Lawn Dairy Farm utilizes a strategic breeding program to advance herd genetics at a rapid pace. Pictured from left are herdsman Leonardo, herd manager Jeremy Schmidt, herdsman Julio and GENEX representative Jeff Lutz.

With the help of GENEX Dairy Consultant Jeff Lutz, Jeremy uses the Calf Math program to compare potential breeding strategies. Through the Calf Math program – which requires farm data points like annual cull rate, age at first calving, calving interval and death loss – he can determine how many replacement animals are needed and the most effective combination of semen products to reach the dairy’s goals. Currently, the dairy utilizes three semen products: GenChoice™ sexed semen with SexedULTRA™, conventional dairy semen and conventional beef semen. SM





Selecting Recipients for Embryo Transfer By: Gwen Powers, Dairy Consultant Manager

What factors should you consider when selecting embryo recipients for your strategic breeding program?

For commercial dairies looking to increase herd progress and improve their overall bottom line or purebred operations striving to produce the next great cow or bull, embryo transfer (ET) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) programs are becoming increasingly common. Technologies, such as donor aspiration and IVF lab techniques, are contributing to the popularity of ET and IVF programs among many types of operations. To establish an effective and efficient ET or IVF program, a dairy’s management team must consider both the donors and the embryo recipients. Selection and care of elite genetic merit donor animals is critical for obvious reasons, but the selection and maintenance of recipients has significant implications too. Selecting recipient animals based on health, genetics and fertility – and maintaining optimal conditions throughout the pregnancy – results in more high genetic merit calves on the ground. Consider these factors when selecting and caring for embryo recipients: Health. The basics of a healthy recipient are like that of the donor; she must be reproductively and nutritionally sound. Heifers serving as recipients should have reached puberty, have a sound reproductive tract and have exhibited a first heat. Ideally, cows should have calved without any problems and 22



be free of ovarian cysts, metritis or other issues. As a general rule, recipient candidates should be on a good nutritional plane and have proper body condition to support a healthy pregnancy. Genetics. The genetics of the recipient animal have often been disregarded since she is “only carrying the embryo.” Donors are selected based on their high genetic merit, but those same traits are not applicable to recipients. Instead, it is important to consider traits which might contribute to getting the most calves on the ground. When looking at a group of lower genetic merit animals as potential recipients, the dairy management team should sort those animals by traits that can contribute to conception and calving rate. A reliable Daughter Stillbirth (DSB) and Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR) evaluation can more accurately determine which animals should be used to carry embryos of high genetic value with the most success. Fertility. Numerous studies show conception rates in dairy cattle are typically higher when heifers are used as recipients versus cows. This is true for several reasons. First, heifers do not have the lactational stress cows do, particularly first lactation cows which are transitioning for the first time and still growing to reach their

mature size. Also, heifers typically have less reproductive issues such as cysts or infections from a hard calving. However, using only heifers as recipients is usually not practical or viable either, and cows can make perfectly acceptable recipients. Consider this scenario. Many dairies are genomic testing their females, and they often cull older, low genetic merit cows in favor of younger, high genomic animals. Still, these older cows typically produce quite a bit more milk than their 2-year-old counterparts. In this scenario, it can make sense to use older, lower genetic merit cows as recipients. By serving as an embryo recipient, the cow gives birth to a valuable calf and remains in the herd contributing significant pounds of milk. When selecting which older cows should serve as recipients, DPR and DSB are again the traits on which to sort them. In conclusion, as ET and IVF continues to become more common in strategic breeding programs, strive to use healthy heifers or lowerranking cows with desirable DPR and DSB values to carry high value pregnancies. Higher genetic merit females can then be used as donors or bred with more valuable semen. Ultimately, the genetic progress made through ET and IVF can lead to profitable future generations and dollars in the producer’s pocket. 

Choose Wisely Consider the health, genetics and fertility characteristics that contribute to getting more healthy, high genetic merit calves on the ground.




Non-Injectable Factors

to Improve Reproduction By: Kimberly J. Egan, DVM, Dairy Consultant Manager

It is frustrating to hear the only thing standing between a herd and a 30% pregnancy rate is the lack of injections from a synchronization program. Don’t get me wrong, well‑timed synch programs with excellent compliance will increase insemination rates versus heat detection alone and have been proven to improve fertility. However, many factors affect conception. What follows is data which may renew your interest in non-injectable factors – management factors – that improve reproduction and benefit your bottom line.




Good reproduction is one key to increasing production efficiency per stall. A cow may still be giving 80 lbs. per day at 400 days in milk, but is she the most profitable cow to occupy that stall? Ideally, she would be fresh into her next lactation and on her way to peak milk. A well-timed synchronization program with excellent compliance may help boost a reproduction program and increase production efficiency per stall but don’t overlook other important areas that can also help to improve reproduction in your herd. Udder Health. Many people are surprised by the impact udder health can have on conception rates. In the GENEX Dairy Performance NavigatorSM (DPNSM) program, data from over 115,000 cows in herds between 501 and 2,000 head shows a significant increase in conception rates as somatic cell counts (SCC) decrease. Over the last year, conception rates were 3% higher for first lactation cows under 200,000 SCC versus those with higher SCC. Even more improvement in conception was seen in older cows: second and later lactation cows under 200,000 SCC had 7-8% higher conception rates than

their contemporaries with higher SCC. Therefore, management plans to improve udder health can have positive effects on the reproductive program as well. Transition, metabolic disease and body condition. In 2007, Walsh et al. reported a 20% reduction in the probability of pregnancy at first service for cows diagnosed with subclinical ketosis in the first week postpartum. For cows diagnosed with subclinical ketosis in the first and second weeks postpartum, there was a 50% reduction in probability of pregnancy at first service.2 Combine this with the nearly 30% prevalence rate3 of subclinical ketosis, and it is no wonder herds struggling with metabolic issues see adverse effects on conception. The same negative energy balance associated with early lactation can lead to losses in body condition as well. Research published in 2014 found an 8.8% decrease in pregnancies per A.I. in cows with body condition below 2.5 versus those with a score at or above 2.75 at time of breeding.4 In other words, a small difference in body condition score can have a significant impact on reproduction.

Use the DPN SM program to analyze herd performance and trends and to benchmark performance against peers. The program includes data points for animal inventory, reproduction, culling, production, milk quality, dry period, health and genetics. For more information, contact your local GENEX representative or call 888.333.1783.

Continued on page 26.

Herd management techniques that ensure a smooth transition period contribute to improved pregnancy rates. HORIZONS



Impact of Cow’s DPR on Annual Conception Rates 70 61 60 51

Annual Overall Conception Rate











First Lactation Second & Greater Lactations




0 0.0-0.9





Genomic DPR

Genetics. Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR), Cow Conception Rate (CCR) and Heifer Conception Rate (HCR) are fertility traits included in genetic indexes such as Lifetime Net Merit $ and Ideal Commercial Cow $. An example of the impact genetics, namely fertility traits, can have on annual conception is shown in the graph above. The graph is based on data from a large Midwest dairy and shows annual conception rates for first lactation females and second and later lactation females of differing DPR values. All DPR levels are based on genomic results, and each group has at least 120 cows. As the graph shows, there is a continuous trend toward higher conception with improving DPR. The results show the difference in annual conception rate even though these cows experience the same protocols, comfort and ration. Footing. Any herd that wants to maximize natural heat detection should pay attention to footing. Biosolid bedding can lead to a slippery biofilm on concrete, and concrete flooring may need to 26



be re-grooved periodically. The difference good footing can make was described by Britt et al., showing the total number of mounts or stands were reduced by about half when moved from dirt to concrete.5 Freestall barns provide a life of leisure for cows, but attention to floor condition is a must. Stress. The most commonly addressed culprit of reduced conception rates is climate (i.e., heat and humidity). The impact on reproduction, feed intake and production are well known. Other common stressors are nutritional and managerial. This may include inadequate push-up of feed, inadequate bedding or limitation on lying time or space. Stress has physical ramifications that are only beginning to be understood. The neuroendocrine, immune, cardiovascular, reproductive and central nervous systems are all part of the same animal and effects in one system evoke changes in the others.6 A strong reproductive program cannot be built on a faltering foundation. A herd experiencing a high rate of mastitis, or a running

bout with subacute rumen acidosis, is not going to achieve awardwinning pregnancy rates by adding injections or tweaking shot timing … it just might be a couple ticks better than before. The way to make a reproductive program strong may look a bit different depending on geography, but it is not just a synch program. Good genetics, cow comfort and diligent management are common denominators. 

(1) Dairy Performance Navigator SM program. 2/19/17. (2) Walsh, R.B., J.S. Walton, et al 2007. The effect of subclinical ketosis in early lactation on reproductive performance of postpartum dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 90:2788-2796. (3) McArt, J. A., D. V. Nydam, and G. R. Oetzel. 2012a. Epidemiology of subclinical ketosis in early lactation dairy cattle. J. Dairy Sci. 95:5056-5066 (4) Carvalho PD, Souza AH, et al. J Dairy Sci. 2014; 97(6):3666-83. doi: 10.3168/jds.2013-7809. Epub 2014 Apr 14. “Relationships between fertility and postpartum changes in body condition and body weight in lactating dairy cows.” (5) Britt et al., 1986; Determinants of estrous behavior in lactating Holstein cows. J. Dairy Sci. 69:2195-2202 (6) Kelley KW, Johnson RW, Dantzer R: Immunology discovers physiology. Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 1994, 43: 157-165. 10.1016/0165-2427(94)90132-5

Award-Winning Genetics and Reproduction A Look at the Practices and Results of This Yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Winners


Average Pregnancy Rate for Cows

Average First Service Conception Rate for Cows

Percent of eligible females in a herd that conceive every 21 days

Percent of females confirmed pregnant when presented for pregnancy diagnosis after first service


Percentage of Cows Pregnant by 150 Days in Milk (DIM)


Gold Silver Honorable Mention

} }



72 DIM

< 500 Cows Category Weisenbeck Farms LLC Durand, WI Neil & Margie Breunig and Joe & Emily Heise Dairy Lodi, WI Holmesville Dairy Argyle, WI Kleinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cow Palace, LLC Lake City, MN

500-2000 Cows Category Schilling Farms Darlington, WI Leix Farms, Inc. Montfort, WI Hinsch Farms Inc. Goodhue, MN

> 2000 Cows Category SunRidge Dairy Nampa, ID

Average Age at First Service

Plymouth Dairy Farms, Inc. LeMars, IA

3 of 12 herds

Mathews Dairy Farms, Inc. Portales, NM

Utilize an Activity Monitoring System

Darlington Ridge Farms Darlington, WI

6 of 12 dairies Genomic Test their Heifers

Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Award Winner

Mapleview Dairy LLC Madrid, NY

Heifer Category

*First service protocols include modified versions of the synchronization programs. *All data above represents herds winning awards in the cow categories.

Cosync h

Dou b le

ch syn

2 3 1 # of Herds 6 P re s y n c h

ch syn Ov

First Service Protocol for Cows


Seneca Valley Farm Burdett, NY Coleman Ponderosa Kewaunee, WI SunRidge Dairy Nampa, ID Gardeau Crest Dairy Perry, NY

Learn more about the Platinum award winners on pages 28-31. HORIZONS



< 500 Cows Category

Weisenbeck Farms LLC Durand, Wisconsin

It takes a team at Weisenbeck Farms LLC. The team includes family members Hank (pictured with daughter Charlotte), Sally, Don and Jake Weisenbeck and GENEX representative Tim Nemitz. As Jake states, “Tim’s just as much a part of this team as we are.”

It’s all about the details for Don and Sally Weisenbeck and their sons Jake and Hank at Weisenbeck Farms LLC near Durand, Wisconsin. As Jake puts it, to be successful “you have to pay close attention to detail. That’s something all of us do, no matter our role.”

Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Platinum Award Winner

And, they each have their own role. Don oversees the operation. Sally and Jake serve as the herdspeople, with Sally focusing on calves and heifers and Jake focusing on the cows. Hank handles the cropping side of the 450‑cow family farm. Attention to detail is also a key attribute of the dairy’s reproduction program. It’s a reason why the Weisenbeck herd has a 41% pregnancy rate and 90% of cows are pregnant by 150 days in milk (DIM). It’s a reason why they earned a platinum Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Award. It was about a year ago when Jake, along with Tim Nemitz (the GENEX Reproductive Program Senior Technician who conducts daily heat detection, breeding and sire selection at the dairy), decided to make a change in the dairy’s reproduction program. Their goal was to get more peak milk yield. Their plan was to extend the voluntary wait period (VWP). In balancing the longer VWP and the need to get cows pregnant, they switched from Ovsynch to Double Ovsynch. More specifically, they transitioned to a modified Double Ovsynch program where cows get an extra Lutalyse® shot 24 hours after the second Lutalyse® along with GnRH at breeding. Pregnancy checks occur every other week for cows between 31 and 44 days since last heat. Open cows with a corpus luteum (CL) are given Lutalyse® at preg check, again 28



24 hours later, and then are bred and given GnRH 48 hours after that. Open cows that do not have a CL are enrolled in a 7-day CIDR® program. This repro program, with careful attention to detail, is but one component contributing to the dairy’s award-winning reproduction results. According to Jake, attention to detail in the following areas also contributes to their success: A.I. service: As Jake states, “Tim is an excellent technician – consistent, on time, good with the cattle.” Genetics: Bulls are chosen based on high Ideal Commercial Cow and Lifetime Net Merit index rank, production, Daughter Pregnancy Rate, Productive Life and positive sire fertility values. Facilities: Newer facilities have led to better cow comfort, which impacts reproduction. Heifer care: Sally’s top-notch calf care combined with a new calf barn and automated feeder has led to consistent and healthy heifers with plenty of growth. As shown, attention to detail throughout all aspects of herd management makes excellent reproduction possible at Weisenbeck Farms. This top-notch repro provides enough replacements that Weisenbecks can be choosy about putting the best cow in a stall, cull at a high rate and maintain a low somatic cell count. 

500-2000 Cows Category

Schilling Farms Darlington, Wisconsin

With a cow pregnancy rate of 36% and a 57% first service conception rate, one would think Schilling Dairy LLC in Darlington, Wisconsin, would keep their secrets hidden (like a good fishing hole) but that is certainly not the case. With consistently improving numbers, herd manager Brian Schilling is happy to let others in on the factors that seem to be the winning combination for the farm. With their fourth consecutive Excellence in Reproduction & Genetics Platinum Award, the Schillings know what it takes to remain successful.

Team collaboration The Schilling team consists of Bill and Barb Schilling and their sons Andy and his wife Sara and Brian and his wife Bridget. They surround themselves with a great team of agribusiness consultants that meet quarterly. Short and long term goals are discussed during these meetings, as well as protocols and any pertinent farm issues. This team approach has led not only to fantastic reproduction numbers, but the 600-cow dairy also boasts a 32,000 pound rolling herd average with 4.0% fat, 3.2% protein and 52,000 somatic cell count.

Fresh cow care Getting cows off to a good start after calving is paramount for the Schillings. Cows stay in the fresh cow pen for 21 days. During that time, body temperatures are taken daily, testing is conducted for beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) to monitor subclinical ketosis and animals are drenched to help prevent hypocalcemia. This strict protocol, along with proper dry cow, pre-fresh and post‑fresh rations allow the cows’ reproductive systems to function correctly, enabling them to breed back quicker.

Genetics matter

The local GENEX team, led by Reproductive Program Senior Technician Tim Heiring, choose sires several times per year. These high Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index sires transmit just what Brian has in mind when he envisions his ideal cow. In addition to fertility, he also looks for a feed efficient, moderate-sized cow with good feet and legs. She must also be a good producer with a nice udder.

Pictured left to right are key members of the Schillings’ team, Bailey, Andy and Brian Schilling.

Genomic testing all heifers has also boosted farm genetics in a short amount of time, as the bottom 10-15% of heifers are culled based on data. In addition, cows not bred by 180 days in milk are placed on the ‘do not breed’ list.  HORIZONS



Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Platinum Award Winner

“Every year I think the breeding numbers can’t get any higher, yet each year conception and pregnancy rates continue to rise,” says veterinarian BJ Jones. “One of the reasons for this has been the inclusion of genomic data used in today’s sire analyses.” By focusing on Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR) for several years, the Schillings now enjoy a +2.9 DPR average on their heifers.

> 2000 Cows Category

SunRidge Dairy Nampa, Idaho

Three-time Excellence in Reproduction & Genetics Platinum award recipient, SunRidge Dairy, attributes the success they’ve had to their employees, especially herd manager Pedro Lopez whose primary responsibilities are herd health and reproduction. In addition to the farm staff, SunRidge commends its outstanding industry partners, including: GENEX, Herd Health LLC and Snake River Enterprises. Located in Nampa, Idaho, SunRidge Dairy milks approximately 3,000+ cows three times a day and achieved a 35% pregnancy rate this past year making it possible to get approximately 90% of the cows pregnant before 150 DIM.

Great Employees Make a Difference

Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Platinum Award Winner

There’s an old saying, “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your customers.” In SunRidge Dairy’s case, they always treat their employees exactly as they would want them to treat their cows, with compassion and respect. Managing partners Adrian Kroes and Michael Siegersma have created a culture which promotes employee engagement in the workplace, and it’s clear it makes a difference. “Our employees truly care about the cows,” says dairy manager Ryan Kroes, “and that’s probably the single biggest contributing factor to our success.”

Successful Breeding Protocols The dairy utilizes a 14-day Presynch/ Ovsynch protocol starting at about 45 days in milk (DIM). Cows which display natural signs of heat after 60 DIM are cherry-picked and not enrolled in the Ovsynch program; only about 20% of cows are enrolled. All cows enrolled in the Ovsynch program receive a double lute shot and timed A.I. starts at 80 DIM. All open cows at preg check get re‑enrolled in Ovsynch as part of the resynch program once again utilizing a double lute shot. Cows average a 48% conception rate on the timed A.I. program. 30



Genetics Make a Difference SunRidge Dairy has always placed a lot of emphasis on sire selection, choosing bulls in the 90th percentile for Lifetime Net Merit (LNM$) and the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index while maintaining around 1,500 lbs. of milk and over 100 lbs. combined Fat and Protein with positive Daughter Pregnancy Rate and exceptional Productive Life. They recently completed preliminary genomic testing and were pleased to have zero animals with negative LNM$ values. Dairy manager Ryan Kroes attributes the exceptional genetic quality of their herd to the superior genetics offered by GENEX and the help of the local staff: Bob Edwards (Territory Sales Manager) and Ethan Helander (Dairy Account Manager) whom aid in sire selection and implementation of strategic breeding protocols. Recently, a decision was made to utilize sexed semen on the top 25% of first lactation cows identified through the GENEX Sort-Gate program. Moving forward, they would like to use beef semen on lower genetic animals to help increase the overall genetic level of the herd.  SM

Dairy manager Ryan Kroes and herd manager Pedro Lopez look over breeding reports at SunRidge Dairy, Nampa, Idaho. These two are part of the team that worked together to achieve a 35% pregnancy rate for 2016.

Heifer Category

Seneca Valley Farm Burdett, New York

Partnership and teamwork are the buzz words at Seneca Valley Farm, a third-generation farm located in Burdett, New York. These are the key ingredients for success in this growing operation. In 1967, Ed Gates (founder of Seneca Valley Farm) had a dream of becoming a farmer and jumped in head-first, quitting his job at General Electric and purchasing 22 cows. Since then, the farm has never stopped growing. They currently milk about 1,200 cows and work nearly 2,200 acres of land. The Gates family is an active part of the local community and a role model in the dairy industry. herd’s reproductive and genetic performance. During these meetings changes to improve these programs are also considered.

Seneca Valley has had a longstanding partnership with GENEX dating back to the cooperative’s forerunners. The relationship has thrived over the years because of open communication, comradery between the farm and GENEX, and commitment to the farm’s goals. GENEX Reproductive Program Senior Technician Meghan Bradley says they are successful in reaching and surpassing their goals because everyone does their part to make it work. The GENEX breeders and support staff work closely with farm employees to make sure the job gets done correctly, including sharing heat detection and breeding responsibilities.

The Gates family has always placed emphasis on genetics yielding productive, functional, long-lasting cows. Seneca Valley was an early adopter of the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index; they select a gene pool using the top 5% of available sires.

Quarterly meetings are held with Seneca Valley, GENEX and Starland Veterinary teams to review the

Strategic breeding also plays a big role in the farm’s success. The GENEX Calf Math and Sort‑Gate

Currently, the farm runs an impressive 46% heifer pregnancy rate with an 85% heat detection rate. The heifers are painted daily and heat detection is performed multiple times a day.


programs have simultaneously fine-tuned replacement inventory while constantly pushing the rate of genetic progress forward. Heifers are sorted and ranked based on parent index Lifetime Net Merit (LNM$). The top 50% of heifers are bred to GenChoice™ sexed semen with SexedULTRA™ and the bottom 50% to conventional semen. The GENEX BOLT program has been utilized to keep inbreeding at an acceptable level. SM

As Seneca Valley celebrates its golden anniversary this year, their accomplishments are a story of teamwork, innovation, focus and determination – a recipe sure to produce continued success in the future. 


Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Platinum Award Winner

The team at Seneca Valley Farm believe their partnerships have led to the farm’s reproductive success. Team members, pictured from left, include: John and Suzie Gates, Steve Taber, GENEX representative Meghan Bradley, Melanie Janke and Julio Ceron.




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