Horizons, Dairy Edition

Page 1

HORIZONS Dairy Edition

Are You Leaving Your Investments Unprotected? p.20

Set Your Heifers up for Success p.17 Farm Features

Reproduction & Genetics Awards p.8 Redefining Your Co-op Governance Changes p.4



2020 Vol. 26/No. 2 ADDRESS CORRESPONDENCE GENEX P.O. Box 469, Shawano, WI 54166 info@genex.coop 888.333.1783 www.genex.coop

04 08

COOPERATIVE COUNCIL 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, NY, 585.344.0758 Jon Wayne Danielson Cadott, WI, 715.289.3860


Casey Dugan Casa Grande, AZ, 520.251.3492 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 Jody Schaap Woodstock, MN, 507.215.2257 Daniel Tetreault Champlain, NY, 518.298.8690 Bill Zimmerman Foley, MN, 320.355.2191


03 Adapting and Growing

08 Dairies Honored for Excellence

for the Future 04 Cooperative Modernization:

Rebuilding & Redefining Your GENEX

in Reproduction & Genetics 17 Keys to Heifer

Reproduction Success 20 Banks Don’t Leave

07 What Do the Numbers Mean?

Their Vaults Unprotected. You Shouldn’t Either.

HORIZONS STAFF Jenny L. Hanson, Editor, jlhanson@genex.coop Andy Graf, Graphic Designer

REPRINTS Material may not be reproduced in any fashion without permission from GENEX. Genex Cooperative, its 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 W A 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 IMP L IED W HIC H E X T ENDS BE YOND T HE DESC R IP T ION OF T HE PRODUC TS AND HEREBY DISCL A IM A LL WARR ANTIES 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.

Adapting and Growing

for the Future By Huub te Plate, Chief Executive Officer

The past months have been the most unique period in

your family members and employees. Effective

global changes since 9-11. The worldwide pandemic

communication keeps all of us in the right state of

brought the economy and many supply chains to their

mind while the world around us is going 100 mph in

knees. Milk futures have never seen such fluctuations in

many directions.

a matter of months, changing from absolute disastrous prices to levels that allow producers to make a living.

And now at GENEX, we are using the pandemic

Beef supply chains have never experienced the recent

as an opportunity to make permanent changes

price variations from ranch to consumer plates. Right

in how we work. We have learned electronic

now, risk mitigation tools are as important as they have

communications can be as effective as in person. While

ever been. You will do yourself – and your family – a

face-to-face meetings are still “the cat’s meow” in

service by looking into these programs.

relationship building, we are stepping up our game in

At GENEX, as the pandemic spread, we decided

electronic communication.

continued service and supply of product was key for

Winston Churchill once said, “Never let a good crisis

short- and long-term member satisfaction. In fact, we

go to waste.” We are taking that quote to heart to

knew we had to step up and continue forward until the hay was in the barn! We showcased our farmers’ spirit; nobody outworks us, and we do what we say. At the same time, keeping our employees safe was also a top priority. The well-being of our employees and continued service to our members and customers was – and is – of utmost importance. We have also increased communications to keep everyone informed and motivated. We have held numerous calls via Zoom and Microsoft Teams, recorded video messages and held webinars. Too many to mention.

make permanent improvements in our cooperative business model. We expect these changes will not only contribute to the success of your reproduction and genetic programs but will also enhance your interactions with your cooperative. The governance changes you will read about on the following page started well before the pandemic. Your directors have done an outstanding job putting together a modern cooperative ready to engage the next generation of producers. We will be using the COVID-19 era to fast-track using modern electronic means to communicate with members, delegates and directors.

In my mind, communication rivals health and safety

The result will be accelerating the modernization of the

for the number 1 spot in this crisis. You cannot

cooperative. We are here to serve you and take on the

overcommunicate. This is also true for you with

future, whatever that will be. 




Cooperative Modernization: Rebuilding & Redefining Your GENEX By Terri Dallas, Vice President of Member Relations

We highly value GENEX delegate and alternate input. Two years ago, we asked delegates to provide feedback on what differentiates GENEX from other bovine genetics businesses. The overwhelming answer was being a co-op sets us apart. Then, at our fall 2019 delegate input meetings, our CEO Huub te Plate shared with delegates and alternates information about the Good to Great process happening at GENEX and the resulting Hedgehog statement developed by the GENEX council and employees: “We are best at being a modern cooperative delivering advanced genetic and reproductive solutions to progressive dairy and beef producers globally.”

does with GENEX and/or a system based on cow numbers. Also important to the delegates was keeping the one member one vote philosophy in place. The delegates reported a decrease in the number of council directors made sense given the decline in the number of producers in the U.S. as well.

During those same fall input meetings, delegates and alternates were asked to provide input on how to modernize the cooperative. In other words, provide ideas on continuing to serve our current members while recruiting new members in the U.S. and possibly around the world.

In January 2020, the GENEX council unanimously voted to change from our geography-based 13-region governance structure to a revenuebased four-tier structure. Moving from our current structure to one based on the amount of business

Council Accepts New Governance Structure

members do with the co-op allows for meaningful interaction within the tiers. Each tier will have members with similar demographics. The tier system is flexible and scalable; tiers can be added in the future and can grow with the cooperative. For example, we could add an internationalfocused tier. The goal is fair treatment for all members.

Structure to Include Tier System The tier system aligns representation and the election of delegates based on the annual amount of semen,

We were looking for ideas on how to attract young producers – those who will be industry leaders in 20 years – to become more involved GENEX members. This has become a bigger challenge each year as the demographics of our membership continues to change. Plus, although there have been many changes in production agriculture and at GENEX, our governance structure had not changed in over 25 years. About half of the delegate groups at those fall input meetings reported a good option would be governance based on the business a producer During the fall 2019 delegate input meetings, delegates and alternates provided input on how to modernize the co-op and attract young producers to become more involved GENEX members. 4




GENEX Governance Changes Cooperative Modernization discussed at Delegate Input Meetings in November and December 2019. Earlier this year, the GENEX council unanimously voted to accept a new governance structure, based on the amount of business members do with the co-op.

products and services a member purchases from GENEX, while keeping the one member one vote philosophy in place. There are four tiers based on the amount of GENEX business. The following is a breakdown based on 2020 revenue:

% of Total Tier Members 1 2 3 4

60% 25% 10% 5%

Delegates in each tier will elect two council directors per tier, except for Tier 2 which will elect three council directors. Elections for council directors will be held at the cooperative’s annual meeting. Annual The maximum size of the GENEX Purchases council will be 11 directors. Nine from GENEX council directors will represent the $500 to $3000 tier system. The other two council $3001 to $11,400 directors will be at-large positions $11,401 to $43,000 appointed by the GENEX council. At $43,001 and up least two of the 11 council directors must represent beef.

A committee of GENEX council and management will meet every three years to review the balance of the tiers. We envision members within each tier will have similar values, views, desires, challenges and perception of GENEX versus competitors. Member communications and delegate activities will be tailored for each tier. Tier 1, with the largest number of members, has the most delegates and alternates. Conversely, Tier 4 with the smallest number of members and alternates has the smallest number of delegates.

Tier 1 2 3 4

New Structure and Prerequisites for GENEX Council

The GENEX council also agreed to adopt several other changes. Council directors must now purchase a high majority of their semen from GENEX. This is in addition to spending a minimum of $500 of semen, products and services per year. Other changes include adding term limits effective with the 2021 council elections. Council directors can serve a maximum of six, three-year terms and the maximum age when elected to serve a term is 72 years of age. 

GENEX representatives met with cooperative experts Michael Cook and Michael Weaver to gain input on how other co-ops are modernizing. Cooperative modernization white paper presented to GENEX council committee on December 17, 2019. Final recommendations presented to GENEX council on January 20, 2020. Final recommendations approved by GENEX council on January 21, 2020. New structure shared at virtual annual meetings on June 9 and June 11, 2020. Delegate election based on tiers starts in July 2020 and concludes in September. Members in Tier 1 elect their delegates/alternates, members in Tier 2 elect their delegates/ alternates, etc. Delegates elected in 2020 will seat new GENEX council at March 2021 annual meeting (no council election in 2020).

# Members # Delegates 4,222 1,759 704 352 7,037

30 20 15 10 75




The GENEX kind of cow is High-producing, trouble-free & feed efficient. FERTILE with GOOD BODY CONDITION and excellent energy-corrected production.


The invisible cow.

She’s healthy, trouble free, breeds on schedule and calves in easily.

AN EFFICIENT MILK PRODUCER that adds to your bottom-line profit.




What Do the Numbers Mean? The April genetic evaluations brought big changes, the biggest being the genetic base change. The base change happens every five years and, put simply, resets the animals’ genetic values based on a new reference population. The base change adjusted many traits downward, which shows the industry is heading the right way and making genetic progress. Holstein and Jersey breed progress means headway is being made towards an even more productive and efficient animal.

What Hasn’t Changed? While the base change occurred and several industry indexes had formula updates, the ICC$™ formulas for Holsteins and Jersey remained constant with the April proofs. Note, however, animals' values changed because the traits within ICC$™ were impacted by the base change. ICC$™ is genetic selection for the future with its focus on health, sustainability and efficiency.

What’s High? What’s Low? What’s Average? With all these changes, it means we must adjust our trait and index values and expectations. So, what is high, what is low and what is average? Here is a summary of the active sires in the Holstein and Jersey breeds. The industry averages and maximum values for each trait give you a new frame of reference on the genetics available today. Jersey




























Industry Averages* GENEX Averages


*Based on April 2020 active file, which included 619 sires.

































Industry Averages* GENEX Averages


*Based on April 2020 USA active file, which included 2,963 sires.

To find the right mix of GENEX sires for your genetic goals, download the GENEX Dairy Bull Search app. It provides compatibility across mobile and desktop for Windows, Apple and Android devices. Plus, there are plenty of ways to sort, filter and share bull lists with your GENEX representative for safe semen ordering to meet today’s social distancing guidelines. 




Dairies Honored for Excellence in Reproduction & Genetics

GENEX first recognized Excellence in Reproduction & Genetics award winners in 2012, and each year the caliber of reproduction success and genetic merit have reached new and seemingly impossible levels of achievement. During that first year, the winning dairies averaged a 30% pregnancy rate and 45% first service conception rate for cows. This year’s platinum award herds average a 36.8% pregnancy rate and a 58.2% first service conception rate. The number of herds and diversity of the nominations have grown over the years as well. Once recognizing only U.S. herds, nominations now come from all corners of the globe. This has led to the addition of an international award category. Each year, once nominations from a GENEX representative or global distributor are received, individual herd performance numbers are put into a matrix calculation. The calculation considers the dairy’s pregnancy rate, service rate, conception rate, percent pregnant by 150 days in milk (DIM), sexed semen use and the genetic level of service sires, and ultimately determines the winning herds.




This year’s platinum herds average a 36.8% pregnancy rate and a 58.2% first service conception rate.

Honorable Mention




Congratulations to this year’s winners! < 500 Cows

500-2,000 Cows

2,000+ Cows



Truttman Dairy LLC

Strassburg Creek Dairy

High Noon Dairy LLC

Verhoef Dairy Farm Inc

A-OK Farms LLC

Blanchardville, Wisconsin

Wittenberg, Wisconsin

Hereford, Texas


Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin

Vander Woude Dairy Merced, California

Borst Family Dairy

Wagner Farms Inc

Rochester, Minnesota

Oconto Falls, Wisconsin

Carlyle Dairy

Evika-Agro, LLC

Mar-Bec Dairy


Mondovi, Wisconsin

Dorrich Dairy

Ruedinger Farms

Spring Breeze Dairy LLC Hacienda el Carmen

Scheps Dairy

Glenwood, Minnesota

Van Dyne, Wisconsin

Bryant, Wisconsin


Almena, Wisconsin

Blue Prairie Holsteins

Scheps Dairy

Darlington Ridge Farms

Agrasisa S.A de C.V

Darlington Ridge Farms

Blue Mounds, Wisconsin

Almena, Wisconsin

Darlington, Wisconsin


Darlington, Wisconsin

Bergesmilch GbR

High Noon Dairy LLC


Hereford, Texas

Learn more about the Platinum award winners on the following pages! HORIZONS



< 500 Cows Category

Truttmann Dairy LLC Blanchardville, Wisconsin Truttmann Dairy LLC is operated by owners Dan and Shelly Truttmann along with Dan’s father Dwight, brother Doug and nine full-time employees. The family began farming in the early 90s, utilizing rotational grazing while growing cow numbers. By 2012, the herd outgrew the grazing acreage, and the Truttmanns turned their focus to cow comfort and production within a freestall facility. Today, the dairy consists of 410 milk cows, mostly Jerseys with a few Holsteins. The herd averages 69 pounds of milk, 4.9% fat and 3.8% protein.

REPRODUCTION The dairy excels with a 37% pregnancy rate, 56% pregnant at first service and 85% bred by 150 days in milk (DIM). The breeding protocol includes an 80 DIM voluntary wait period with cows bred, on average, at 92 DIM.

Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Platinum Award Winner

Cows are bred on a natural heat with activity information provided through the SCR Heatime® system (now known as an Allflex Livestock

Intelligence system). If a cow hasn’t “From the healthy happy cows to the come into heat by 100 DIM, they owners, employees, nutritionist John double lute her and watch for heat. If Binversie with Quality Liquid Feeds, necessary, the process is repeated veterinarian Tim Bruns, and the 14 days later and in rare instances GENEX team, including reproductive followed with Ovsynch. consultant Adam Koppes, sales manager Scott Schultz, it’s a team The top 50% of cows receive up effort.” to two services of sexed semen. If needed, that is followed by two Dan enjoys working with GENEX services of conventional beef because of the bull lineup (the semen. It equates to 40% sexed positive DPR Jersey sires) and semen use with a 48% sexed because he can trust GENEX semen conception rate for Jersey representatives to have the dairy’s GenChoice™ sexed semen. best interest at heart. In 2019, the dairy started using “Lindsey and Scott take great care male-sexed beef semen. The of us and our herd,” notes Dan. bottom 50% of the herd receives “Lindsey is the best! Her personality up to two services of sexed male is bigger than even the Jerseys, semen, followed by two services of and she does an amazing job of conventional beef semen, as needed. knowing the herd and not missing a thing. I never have to think about whether the job is done right. TEAMWORK It always is.” “It has taken a team to get where we are repro-wise and to keep it consistent to win the Platinum award two years in a row,” explains Lindsey Geddes, GENEX Reproductive Program Senior Technician who provides the breeding service.

TOOLS Four years ago, the dairy’s reproduction program changed after Dan put in the SCR system with activity and rumination monitoring collars. He wanted the system for health monitoring the pre- and post-fresh cows and wasn’t certain it would do a better job at heat detection than tail chalk. “However, after two weeks, we let the collars do the work and our conception rate improved soon after,” notes Dan. “Our preg rate went up 10 points, all while cutting hormone use to near zero and significantly increasing the use of sexed semen.”

Reproduction success is the result of team effort! Pictured (right to left) are Doug Truttmann, Allie (the dog), Collin Legler, Dwight Truttmann, Dan Truttmann, veterinarian Tim Bruns, and GENEX representatives Lindsey Geddes and Scott Schultz.




Dan adds, “We don’t miss heats like before. The system is great at detecting estrus and showing how strong a heat is. It has forced us to wait a bit longer before breeding, knowing the optimal time to breed. 

500-2,000 Cows Category

Strassburg Creek Dairy Wittenberg, Wisconsin After earning Gold last year, the Strassburgs went Platinum this year! Pictured at center are Jeff Strassburg and daughter Alyssa. With them are Zach Wendler (left) and Brian Hamm (right) of GENEX, who perform daily heat detection and A.I. on the dairy.

While putting more intense focus on genetic improvement and managing the number of replacements produced, Strassburg Creek Dairy ramped up their reproduction program. This fifth-generation family farm has been in operation since 1886. Current owners Jeff and Jeni Strassburg, along with Jeff’s parents Ken and Shirley, have always had a high standard and continually push for excellence. The dairy is home to 1,000 cows, with all cows and heifers raised on site.

Strategy. Execution. Success.

“By sorting and using sexed semen on the right animals, conception numbers have excelled and even exceeded our expectations,” states Derek Kolpack, GENEX Dairy Account Manager. The cows are sorted using both their genetic and production data, with only the top 15% bred to sexed Holstein semen; the rest are bred to beef. “The blended beef semen line has really performed well,” notes Derek. “We have used both the Limousin and Angus blends with solid results.”

The dairy achieved an overall first service conception rate of 57% with sexed semen settling at 63%.

Repro Program Framework All first services are bred from a Double Ovsynch with a 65-day voluntary wait period. The dairy utilizes an Afi system to help catch rebreeds along with daily heat detection provided by GENEX technicians Zach Wendler and Brian Hamm. “Credit must be given to Zach and Brian for their continued effort to strive for excellence and for really adhering to the timing of shot and breeding protocols,” states Jeff. Ultimately Strassburg Creek Dairy has maintained a 37% pregnancy rate with a 75% service rate. All of this helped the dairy to achieve 88% of the herd pregnant by 150 days in milk.

Priority One As the Strassburgs say, “Our priority has always been to take care of the cows and the employees, and they will take care of us.” The results achieved here would not be possible without care and commitment to their cows and their team.  Brian Hamm of GENEX uses Reveal™ Livestock Marker spray paint for daily heat detection at Strassburg Creek Dairy. HORIZONS



Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Platinum Award Winner

A year ago, the Strassburgs decided to make a change in their breeding and genetic program, going to an all sexed dairy semen and all beef semen protocol. With an already high level of repro performance, it

made sense to focus on genetic improvement while managing the number of replacements produced. As the transition to all sexed and beef semen was made, one would expect conception rates to dip due to the higher use of sexed semen in the cow herd, but that was not the case.

2000+ Cows Category

High Noon Dairy LLC Hereford, Texas

“Being located in the Southwest, surrounded by cheese plants and housing cows in an open lot, there are obvious reasons to milk Jerseys,” states Jody, “but we aim to create animals that have more Holstein influence to increase milk flow and hybrid vigor.” With the help of GENEX strategic account managers, pedigrees are analyzed and DairyComp records are monitored to ensure the crossbreeding program is followed correctly and the best animals are creating the next generation of replacements. Through use of programs like the GENEX Calf Math program, the dairy has almost perfected their strategic breeding program. They use a combination of sexed semen and beef semen to produce the right number of replacements as well as beef x dairy calves. They would have perfected this breeding strategy already, if it weren’t for the sexed semen conception results exceeding expectations! SM

Key members of the dairy's team include, from left, Rene, Roberto, Jose Alfredo, Santos, Pedro, Juan, Leonardo and Jose.

Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Platinum Award Winner

High Noon Dairy has made great strides since opening in the Texas panhandle nearly five years ago. In the past year, the dairy achieved reproduction results most in the area did not believe were possible. Dairy manager Jody Cole moved from the Northeast to Texas and has been with the dairy since its beginning. In that time, the herd has grown to almost 4,500 head with the help of excellent reproduction and partner operations in Wisconsin and California.

Protocol Compliance Is a Top Priority If you expect to achieve a rolling 12-month pregnancy rate of 39% with 88% of the herd pregnant by 150 days in milk (DIM) and to produce almost 75 lbs. energycorrected milk with a consistent somatic cell count less than 150,000, then everything from hormone administration to heat detection and breeding technique, fresh cow protocols, and milking procedures must be near perfect. 12



At High Noon Dairy, that perfection stems from protocol compliance. This is a team effort, as Mauricio Garcia of GENEX constantly works with the breeding team, and the veterinary team from Progressive Dairy Health works regularly with the fresh cow team. In addition, the dairy’s employees hold each other accountable. With protocol compliance as the goal, the Double Ovsynch program has resulted in an average 52% first service conception rate for sexed semen with breedings occurring at 79-85 DIM. Aggressive yet accurate heat detection by GENEX technicians after first service allowed for an 84% heat detection rate.

Using the Best Genetics Initially, the farm had primarily Jersey cattle but since has focused on a crossbreeding program to add more Holstein influence.

“In our beef on dairy breeding, we are using male-sexed Limousin semen instead of conventional beef semen because our conception rates are strong, and we’re seeing the added return from male beef crosses versus female,” explains Jody.

Always Striving for Success When presenting the Excellence in Reproduction & Genetics award plaque, Jody's strong desire to continually strive for excellence showed through. The conversation centered on how to attain even better numbers next year and how to earn higher recognition in the heifer category. While many things impact genetic and reproductive success, having an attitude like that and a dedicated team surrounding you is half the battle. 

International Category

Verhoef Dairy Farm Inc Canada

Reinoud and Klaartje Verhoef immigrated to Canada in 1999 and began milking cows on a 100-acre farm with an old tiestall facility. Within five years, they had built their first freestall barn and in the last two years have moved into a new stateof-the-art facility. Today, Reinoud, Klaartje and their children, Rick and Julia, along with one full-time employee, Steve, manage the farm of approximately 240 milking cows. The Verhoef’s milking herd production is amongst the highest in Ontario at around 39 kg./cow (85 lbs.) with 4.0% fat and 3.25% protein. They rank first within their county (of 33 other herds) for management score based on DHI milk recording and 43rd out of 3,113 herds in all of Ontario.

Introduced to Double Ovsynch a few years ago by their vet, Reinoud and Klaartje quickly noticed the increased conception rates and, along with activity monitors and a sort-gate, reproduction efficiency has greatly improved. First service breedings are almost 100% compliant with the Double Ovsynch program with a conception rate of 64%. First service average Days in Milk (DIM) is 80 (with a range of 77 to 84). The pregnancy rate is 38%, service rate is 70% and an astonishing 97% of cows are pregnant by 150 DIM. There is no current protocol for re-synchronization as herd health is every two weeks and any cow with issues is handled on a case-bycase basis.

Reinoud and Klaartje attribute much of the dairy’s success to their attitude for perfection and attention to detail. Both are continuing to educate themselves on the latest in animal health and husbandry technology as well as instilling this love of the farm with their children. Rick and Julia are both attending the University of Guelph and have interest in dairy farming when their studies are complete. The Verhoef family has had a long history working with GENEX Canada. They have used the MAP , Dairy Performance Navigator and SortGate programs and are always excited to work with their sales representative Hans Brus. They appreciate the focus on health traits, particularly Daughter Pregnancy Rate, and speak highly of sires they have used in the past including FREDDIE, DON JUAN, CABRIOLET and TABASCO. Future genetic plans include increased use of sexed semen as well as interest in A2 milk and genomic testing. SM



The passion the Verhoef family has for dairy farming is contagious! Continuing to find ways to improve will remain a focus as well as ensuring they take time to enjoy life! 

The Verhoef family is proud of their achievements! Standing is Julia, Reinoud and Rick. Kneeling is Klaartje. HORIZONS



Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Platinum Award Winner

Cows are milked three times per day, and comfort is paramount with the use of sand in calving pens as well as in the freestalls. Youngstock are

raised in hutches and then moved to the older freestall facility for breeding and raising until calving.

Heifers Category

A-OK Farms LLC Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin At A-Ok Farms LLC, success starts the day the calf is born. Owner Mark Breunig believes getting calves off on the right foot is what sets them up for success down the road.

Concentrated on Calf Care Each heifer born on the 500-cow dairy receives two feedings of the highest quality colostrum the farm produces. Colostrum is tested using a refractometer with a target Brix value of 25. Every heifer is also screened for pneumonia by a veterinarian using ultrasound technology to detect lesions on the calf’s lungs. This allows the team to stay ahead of issues and treat calves sooner rather than later. Then, calf health information along with the heifers’ ICC$™ parent averages are used to make early culling decisions through the GENEX Sort-Gate program. Results are measured as a combination of animal health and performance. The ICC$™ parent averages are also graphed in DairyComp to show genetic progress over time.

Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Platinum Award Winner





“Using all of this information helps us to raise heifers that are set up to reach their genetic potential” “Using all of this information helps us to raise heifers that are set up to reach their genetic potential,” explains Mark.

Performance and Trust At four months of age, the heifers are taken to Highview Farm & Ag Services, a custom heifer raiser located 40 minutes from the dairy. Here, the heifers continue to receive high-quality feed and care until four weeks from calving, when they are ready to return home. The heifers average an age at first breeding of about 13 months. They receive two services of GenChoice™ sexed semen and up to two services of conventional semen, if needed. The Highview Farm team does a tremendous job getting heifers bred. With an average 70% conception rate to sexed semen, they have 87% of the heifers pregnant after the first two services.

Mark trusts the GENEX team to pick bulls that fit his operation. The main focus for sire selection is ICC$™. Other traits considered are Daughter Pregnancy Rate, Fat and Protein Percent, and Calf Wellness. PregCheck+™ sire fertility rankings for GenChoice™ sexed semen are considered as well. “It’s really about focusing on breeding healthier, more fertile, and more efficient animals,” shares Mark.

Success is a Team Effort “It is certainly a team effort that has led to the success of the reproduction program. Everybody does their part, and they do it well,” says Mark. When you combine high-quality genetics with a focus on ICC$™, good things are bound to happen! 

Members of the team contributing to A-Ok Farms’ successful heifer program include (left to right) Bryan Hembel of Highview Farm & Ag Services and Jose Pedroza, Maricela Pedroza, Thomas Brunner and Mark Breunig, all of A-Ok Farms.

Heifers Category

Vander Woude Dairy Merced, California

To maximize genetic progress, the farm utilizes an IVF embryo program in addition to an A.I. program featuring a combination of Holstein GenChoice™ sexed semen and Angus semen.

Strategic Breeding Vander Woude Dairy has been genomic testing for the past eight years, so virtually all animals have genomic information available for use in the decision-making process. Once heifer calves receive genomic test results, elite females are designated as IVF donors and all heifers are enrolled in a strategic breeding program. The top 85% of heifers, based on genomic index criteria, receive two services of GenChoice™ semen with the rest bred to Angus sires after one embryo placement. Additionally, the cow herd is sorted monthly using a number of criteria, including Net Merit, Daughter

Pregnancy Rate and health events. Top cows qualify for GenChoice™ semen, while the majority of the milking herd is used as embryo recipients or bred to Angus semen. Herdsman Israel Varela is trained to transfer embryos and maintains the logistics of the ET program. Any program changes are monitored twice a year using the GENEX Calf Math program, which consultant Gwen Powers reviews with the farm team. SM

Genetic Focus Years of stringent sire criteria focused on a mix of health traits, fertility, and components have proven worthwhile in creating Continued on next page ... HORIZONS



Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Platinum Award Winner

The ultimate goal at Vander Woude Dairy is to keep profitable cows in the herd as long as possible. Owner Simon Vander Woude achieves that goal by maintaining a progressive mindset. The 3,500-cow Holstein dairy has a long history of using data and careful planning to achieve success. Their strategic reproductive and genetic protocols are continuously evaluated and have appropriately evolved over time; their heifer program is a shining representation of that.

The team of (left to right) Nicolas Deniz, Marco Valencia, Israel Varela, Armando Gomez, Jaime Moren, Jason Dores and Simon Vander Woude use IVF, A.I., genomic testing and sexed semen to maximize genetic progress.

Continued from previous page.

productive yet trouble-free and healthy cows that stay in the herd for multiple lactations. Health issues such as mastitis and milk fevers are minimal, and the farm has an annual cull rate of only 29%. With a 305 ME just shy of 30,000 lbs. of milk, the herd also excels in production. Components stand at 3.85% fat and 3.15% protein while milking 3x daily and maintaining a 50-60,000 SCC.

Repro Results The foundation of the milking herd starts with a successful heifer program where females enter the breeding pen around 13 months of age. Heifers are walked and chalked daily by the farm’s in-house breeder, Marco Valencia, and conception rates greater than 50% have been maintained on the first two services with sexed semen over the past year. Angus semen is achieving a 58% conception rate on lower genetic merit heifers and on remaining services following sexed semen. About 80% become pregnant to the first two A.I. services, and essentially all heifers freshen less than 25 months of age.

Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Platinum Award Winner

Pregnancies with a Purpose Vander Woude Dairy has been using Angus semen in the herd for many years and raises the calves to approximately 550 lbs. before selling them. This has captured additional premiums for the crossbred calves and provides a nice revenue stream apart from milk. By increasing Angus semen usage and offsetting it with sexed semen and embryos, each pregnancy on the farm truly has a purpose and only a specific number of replacements are produced each month to save on heifer rearing expenses.




Focused on the Future Simon attributes the success of the program to the top-notch team that is heavily invested in the dairy’s breeding program and works hard to carry out the protocols on a daily basis. “We have been blessed to be able to assemble a group of individuals who see our vision and are deeply invested in accomplishing those goals. They are driven by data and the results we have been able to accomplish,” states Simon. The on-farm team consists of general manager Jason Dores, as well as herdsman Israel Varela and breeder Marco Valencia. GENEX consultant Gwen Powers assists with sire selection as well as monthly female sorting and mating programs, and A.I. trainer Jorge Milan of GENEX conducts periodic A.I. refreshers with the team.

Recently, Simon expanded his scope to Grand View Dairy, a newly purchased dairy also located in Merced County where Levi Gassaway, general manager and owner of Maverick Genetics, is implementing similar reproductive and genetic programs. Simon is eager to continue the genetic vision of productive, low maintenance cows with a strategic approach and progressive mindset. He states, “Being a part of the dairy industry has been a huge blessing for our family. We are a family farm that utilizes the data available to us to try to be progressive and strategic in our business plan. This is a great lifestyle, but still needs to be run as a business. As our children may seek to be part of this industry, we are creating opportunities for them if they want to be invested in our operations.” 

Keys to Heifer Reproduction Success


By Craig Redeker, Dairy Account Manager & Consultant



With each minute that passes after birth, a calf’s ability to absorb antibodies is reduced. Ideally, calves should be fed 4 quarts of colostrum within the first few hours of life. If manageable, a second feeding of 2-3 quarts of colostrum 6 to 12 hours later is also recommended, according to Michigan State University Extension, because by 24 hours the gut is almost completely closed and can no longer absorb antibodies.1 Getting that colostrum in the calf quickly is vital, as it’s the calf’s only chance to receive essential immunity, nutrients, growth factors and hormones that help it not only survive but thrive.

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It's not enough to feed just any colostrum. To ensure colostrum is good quality, test it using a Brix refractometer. Studies have shown a Brix value of 23% is a good cutoff point in determining colostrum quality (23% being the minimum). If your colostrum is not up to standards, GENEX offers SCCL colostrum products to supplement your colostrum feeding program. A good way to test if your colostrum program is working and calves are absorbing the IgG from the colostrum is to check blood protein serum levels 48 hours after colostrum is fed. The goal is total protein levels in the blood above 5.5 g/dl. Good colostrum feeding practices and feeding more colostrum can lead to improved average daily gain, reduced treatment costs and better feed conversion efficiency. Continued on next page ... HORIZONS



Continued from previous page.




Once your calves are off and running, high-quality feed and care is of upmost importance. Work closely with your nutritionist to make sure your calves are growing at a good rate. Be sure to weigh calves or use a weight tape to see how they are growing. A good goal for average daily gain is 1.8-2.2 lbs per day. A study has shown, calves that grow at a rate in this range produce 746-1524 lbs more milk in the first lactation than heifers that grew at 1.64 lbs per day.2


Work with your vet to ensure calves remain healthy and trouble free. Consider preventive measures. Know the early signs of health issues and be proactive on treatment. A good tool to utilize to catch pneumonia early is thoracic or lung ultrasound. Screen calves on a regular basis and have your vet score lung lesions and get them treated before it is too late. When not caught early pneumonia can cause poor growth rates, higher death loss, increased age at first calving, and reduced lifetime milk production. As shared in a Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council webinar, calves with pneumonia are also 2.5 times more likely to die after 90 days of age, weigh 6.8 lbs less at 6 months of age, and are less likely to calve. If they do calve in, on average they will be 6 months older than their trouble-free herd mates.3









When it comes to a successful heifer reproduction program, growing a quality heifer is only part of the equation. You also need a dedicated genetics and reproduction team to make it all come together. Work with your vet, A.I. professionals and consultants to come up with a plan and protocols that fit the goals of your operation.

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Attention to detail, consistency, and compliance to protocols are important. Heat detection should be done with a keen eye, the same way, at the same time every day. When using synchronization programs, ensure the shots are given at the proper times. Make sure semen is being handled properly and deposited in the correct spot at the right time. Keep all A.I. equipment clean and in good working order.


Having a good team that understands your goals is huge for success. If your whole team understands why each step of the program is important in achieving those goals, then there will be more buy-in and everyone will take ownership of the program, because everyone has to do their job and do it well for it all to work!

References 1 Cullens, Faith (2018, October 3). Michigan State University. Retrieved from MSU Extension Dairy: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/consider-a-second-feeding-of-colostrum-to-dairy-calves. 2 Corbett, D. B. (2020, May 6). Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council Webinars. Retrieved from Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council: http://www.dcrcouncil.org/members/webinar-recordings/. 3 Lee, D. J. (2017, June 23). Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council Webinars. Retrieved from Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council: http://www.dcrcouncil.org/members/webinar-recordings/.




Banks Don’t Leave Their Vaults Unprotected. You Shouldn’t Either.




As a dairy producer you make investments in your business all the time. From picking the best genetics, providing top quality nutrition and excellent cow care, you understand the importance of good investments to drive profit. Equally important as the investment choices you make are the choices you make to protect them. By choosing to protect your investments, you protect your bottom line Added costs from ill-maintained equipment, poor feed and higher incidences of health challenges eat away at the profit you work so hard to earn. While GENEX can’t do much to help you with a broken tractor, we can help you with the investments you make in your mastitis prevention program.

The profit killer we all know: mastitis Protecting your cows after lactation is crucial, as 50‑60% of all new mastitis infections occur during the dry period and, on average, each new case of mastitis will cost your bottom line between $117 and $444.1 Where does the problem lie? Around seven days after dry off, 50% of quarters fail to produce an adequate keratin plug. Without this natural barrier to protect against environmental bacteria entering the udder, your cow is left unprotected. By 42 to 50 days after dry off, 10-23% of quarters still fail to form a keratin plug.1

The seen and unseen danger Whether you know it or not, mastitis may be robbing you of profit.

Shield your investments from mastitis If you are investing in an intramammary dry cow therapy at dry off, don’t leave your investment unprotected! Studies have shown that using an intramammary dry cow therapy along with an internal teat sealant can reduce new dry cow infections by 25%.4 UdderLife™ OptiShield™ teat sealant can help protect your cows as they enter the dry period. With minimal air in the tube, a partial insertion tip and a syringe that’s easy to push, it’s an easy solution to keep new bacteria out your cow’s udders and away from your investments. Shield your bottom line. Contact your GENEX representative today about UdderLife™ OptiShield™ teat sealant or click here for more information.  Godden, S. et al. (2003). Effectiveness of an Internal Teat Seal in the Prevention of New Intramammary Infections During the Dry and Early-Lactation Periods in Dairy Cows when used with a Dry Cow Intramammary Antibiotic. Journal of Dairy Science, 86(12), 3899–3911.


2 How much does mastitis cost dairy producers annually? (n.d.). The Cattle Site. Retrieved April 14, 2020. 3 Ruegg, P. (2005). Premiums, Production and Pails of Discarded Milk. How Much Money Does Mastitis Cost You? UW Milk Quality Milk Money. University of Wisconsin, Madison. 4 Rabiee, A.R. and Lean, I.J. (2013). The effect of internal teat sealant products (Teatseal and Orbeseal) on intramammary infection, clinical mastitis, and somatic cell counts in lactating dairy cows: A meta-analysis. Journal of Dairy Science, 96(11), 6915–6931.

Rather than gaining profits, you lose money with mastitis. That loss comes in a variety ways: 2 31% milk production losses 24% veterinarian and drugs 18% discarded milk 4% excess labor demand 23% premature culling Even if you can't see the symptoms of mastitis, your investments could still be in danger. Subclinical mastitis can cost you up to $110 per cow annually.3 Subclinical mastitis cannot be detected by just looking at the milk, but, can be noted by a higher somatic cell count and can usually be revealed through a diagnostic sample. Identifying subclinical mastitis is crucial, as the greatest economic losses are attributed to high bulk tank somatic cell counts resulting in loss of quality premiums and overall lower milk production.

Shield your investment. Ask your GENEX rep for UdderLife™ OptiShield™ teat sealant. HORIZONS



Your Once and Done Calcium Supplement RumiLife® CAL24™ nutritional supplement makes your life easier! With both fast and sustained release calcium sources, you can give her two boluses at once for 24 hour coverage.

Ask your GENEX rep for RumiLife® CAL24™ today! 888.333.1783 // www.genex.coop

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