U.S. college graduates with expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, or the environment are in great demand but are expected to fill only 61% of the expected annual job openings. While most employers prefer to hire graduates with this expertise, they will be forced to look elsewhere because the forecast calls for more annual job openings than can be filled by these graduates, according to a recent report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
GENEX is doing its part in encouraging youth to pursue agricultural careers by offering the GENEX Collegiate Scholarship Program. A minimum of four $750 scholarships will be awarded to deserving candidates who can answer yes to the following questions:
› Are you planning to be enrolled in a two or four year college in fall of 2019 and looking for help to pay for it?
› Is your degree program in an agricultural field?
› Do you have an active role on a GENEX member's farm or ranch?
The deadline to apply is April 1, 2019, so download the application and get started today!
“GENEX leads change,” stated Huub te Plate, GENEX Chief Operating Officer, in his address to delegates at the cooperative’s annual meeting Jan. 23 in Bloomington, Minnesota. “Throughout history, we have delivered key innovations and led industry changes. If we stop changing, we stop leading.”
During his management report, Huub spoke of the changes the cooperative underwent in 2018. The most significant was the formation of a new parent company URUS, through the combination of Cooperative Resources International and Koepon Holding BV. The combination, completed in October 2018, was the culmination of a yearlong process which included a milestone vote of support by GENEX delegates.
“This combination of a cooperative and a privately-owned business was an industry first. It has resulted in an organization of enormous scale - second to none in the cattle artificial insemination industry – and holds many opportunities for GENEX members and customers,” stated Huub.
He went on to explain that areas, such as the genetics program and semen production operations, have been centralized under URUS. Centralizing these activities enables the creation of efficient production facilities to maximize the quantity and quality of semen produced.
Other business changes during the year included the divestiture of CENTRAL LIVESTOCK and the transition to GENEX as a global brand.
GENEX experienced below budget results for 2018. “The U.S. was challenged with continued low milk prices and issues with other commodities,” noted Huub. “These same dynamics that affect your farm or ranch profitability level also impact your cooperative and created an operating environment that made achievement of the budget difficult.”
Also impacting revenue was the industry’s shift to using beef semen on dairy females. “Targeted breeding programs using GenChoice™ sexed semen along with beef semen appear to be a long-term trend. In fact, beef into dairy sales quadrupled throughout the year. This, however, displaced use of conventional dairy semen,” stated Huub. “On the bright side, GENEX is positioned to help you make informed strategic breeding decisions through use of our Calf MathSM and Beef x Dairy programs.”
The international market showed some recovery from the previous year with retail operations in Brazil, Canada and Mexico gaining market share. The dairy market in Brazil was in crisis and sales figures reflected the difficulty, yet beef semen sales were strong. The Mexican dairy industry struggled as well, though herd care product sales and increased interest in beef A.I. showed huge opportunities. Among other major markets, GENEX dairy semen sales growth was realized in China and Russia while they struggled in Argentina. Beef semen sales in Argentina were solid.
Through all the change and the global economic turmoil, GENEX council President John Ruedinger, a dairy producer from Van Dyne, Wisconsin, expresses optimism for the future. “Through all this, we need to hold fast to our cooperative business status and mentality. We need to do more than brand GENEX as a cooperative. We need to remain relevant to members by asking for their feedback and responding to their needs. We need to ensure the next generation of producers is involved in and driving their cooperative’s future.”
John concluded by saying the decision to form URUS is one delegates should be proud of. Their foresight and vision to create a new company means the future is bright and the vision is clear for GENEX.
Members Elected to GENEX Council
Also at the annual meeting, five cattle producers were elected to three-year terms on the cooperative’s 13-member council.
Casey Dugan of Casa Grande, Arizona, was elected to his first term. Casey, a graduate of Northern Arizona University, is owner of Desperado Dairy and a third generation dairy farmer.
Re-elected to the council were Daniel Tetreault of Champlain, New York; Lamar Gockley of Mohnton, Pennsylvania; Kay Olson-Martz of Friendship, Wisconsin; and Jody Schaap of Woodstock, Minnesota.
Following the annual meeting, the GENEX council elected officers. Those holding officer positions for 2019 include:
› John Ruedinger, Van Dyne, Wisconsin - president
› Bobby Robertson, Tahlequah, Oklahoma - first vice president
› Harold House, Nokesville, Virginia - second vice president
› Ron Totten, Stafford, New York - secretary
Push™ calf nutritional paste was released about four years ago and its following of loyal users has continued to grow. One of the first individuals introduced to its benefits was Brad Johnson, GENEX Director of Beef Genetics. He wrote about his experience shortly after trying the product. Here is his story from 2015.
My wife, Lindsay, and I have a small herd of Angus and Red Angus cows outside of Shawano, Wisconsin. Earlier this year the GENEX Communications department, gave me two tubes of Push™, a new protein and energy paste for calves. My mission was to get a photo while I was administering a tube to one of our calves for the upcoming advertising campaign of this new product. “No problem.”
We calve our heifers in February and the cows primarily in March and April. February in northeast Wisconsin is cold and snowy while March and April are cold, wet and muddy; neither time is ideal, that’s for sure. In fact, Lindsay has occasionally threatened to find a more patient A.I. technician so we can calve when it’s warmer! We built a few temporary calving pens in a pole shed and rotate cows in and pairs out. It works okay as long as we’re prepared.
This year Heifer #351 decided to calve outside on a cold, windy January day, about 10 days early! Upon noticing the newborn, I quickly shuffled the new pair to the shed, snapped on a LIFEJACKET™ calf coat and began my normal new calf processing routine. I remembered the tube of Push™ nutritional paste stowed in the back pocket of my coveralls, so I gave it to the calf. Either it was too cold and windy for the photographer or two young kids were occupying her time, but we didn’t get a photo taken. In short order the calf was up and nursing and showing great vigor, so I felt pretty confident I’d gotten to the new calf in good time. About two weeks later, the calf’s ear tag fell completely out as her ears continued to get shorter and shorter from the frostbite she’d suffered. It was then I finally realized how much stress the calf had experienced. One tube of Push™ nutritional paste left.
Heifer #312 spent several nights in the calving shed because the vet called her A.I. bred, but it soon became apparent she must have been bull bred. She was the last heifer to calve. I was tiring of 2:00 a.m. checks, so I was glad to see when she started calving at 10:00 p.m. I went back inside with intentions of giving her two hours. After the two hours it was clear I’d be assisting this delivery. Long story short, #312 delivered an 87 lb. bull calf with moderate help. Not the worst pull ever but stressful for the calf nonetheless. While Junior, the newborn calf, laid there sprawled out not doing much of anything, I again thought of the Push™ nutritional paste in my back pocket. He looked like a calf that could use a pick-me-up. Should I text the sleeping photographer to wake up, get dressed and come out into the cold to take our picture? What would any sane husband do? I opted to let Lindsay sleep. Fast forward 10 minutes and the calf was up drinking happily, thanks in large part to that tube of Push™ nutritional paste. I consider Junior a great advertisement for Push™ nutritional paste and for using proven A.I. sires on your heifers! Zero tubes of Push™ nutritional paste left.
The next morning, I called and ordered a box of Push™ nutritional paste. While these two examples aren’t the most difficult calving experiences I’ve ever seen, I am confident Push™ nutritional paste works, and it helped these two calves get up and going. I’m going to make sure I’ve always got a tube of Push™ nutritional paste in my back pocket when calving season rolls around. Now if we could just get that darn picture taken…
When the weather is warm you pay close attention to semen handling, but are you careful during the colder winter months as well? It seems semen handling procedures often become a bit more relaxed in cold weather.
You might think that since the semen was frozen, it’s no big deal to expose it to the chilly wind or to delay putting it in a pocket right away. However, it’s important to always handle semen carefully no matter the outside temperature!
Here are a couple points to consider while handling semen this winter:
1. Liquid nitrogen still evaporates in cold weather, so don’t forget to put the cork back on your tank as soon as you are done pulling out the straw.
2. Regularly measure your tank’s liquid nitrogen level, just as you should in the warmer months.
3. If your fingers are wet due to snow or ice, they are more prone to frost bite. Be sure your fingers are dry when touching semen canes, or wear milking gloves to avoid getting your skin stuck to the canes.
4. Pay attention if using the warm water thaw method. It takes just seconds for the semen to freeze again if it is windy outside.
5. Always warm up your A.I. gun. If you have a gun warmer, use it!
6. Make sure to allow more time for semen to thaw when using the Pocket Thaw™ method.
7. As always, slowly push the plunger into the A.I. gun while depositing semen.
For best results, think twice about how you handle semen outside the tank during winter weather!
Balanced production. Healthy cows that stay out of the sick pen. Cows that breed back quickly, and cows that are the right size for facilities. This is what you’ve asked for, and this is what GENEX strives to provide.
Feedback from you – GENEX members and customers – formed the foundation of the Ideal Commercial Cow™ (ICC$™) index. Originally launched in August 2014, the ICC$™ index has been proven the go-to index for creating problem-free, high-profit animals for commercial operations. It’s comprised of five easy-to-use sub-indexes driven by science-based data and directly tied to dairy economics.
“The ICC$™ index is probably the largest step forward we have seen in meeting the commercial producers’ needs,” comments Don Bennink of North Florida Holsteins. “The index really looks at the characteristics commercial producers – those making a living from their dairy herd – need from their cattle for maximum profit.”
With the December proofs, the ICC$™ index for Holsteins was updated to meet your needs. Changes included a renewed focus on healthy cows through the transition period, a re-balancing of Fat and Protein weightings and an updated focus on fertility and functional commercial conformation.
The sub-index weightings shifted slightly with the Production Efficiency (PREF$) sub-index now at 47% (previously 46%) and the Fertility & Fitness (FYFT$) sub-index now at 14% (previously at 15%).
Down to the Details
One benefit of the ICC$™ index is its ability to flex to meet the evolving needs of your commercial dairy. Based on current milk markets and customer feedback, the PREF$ sub-index had a significant shift in weightings, namely increasing the importance of Fat. Fat is now weighted at 29% (an increase of 10%) and Protein at 26%.
The other big update was in the HLTH$ sub-index where a Transition Health component was added, emphasizing the importance of breeding healthy cows. Transition Health encompasses four critically important health traits: Metritis, Ketosis, Displaced Abomasum and Retained Placenta. These four traits come from the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) and are proven to be economically important to your operation. Livability, also from CDCB, was added to the HLTH$ sub-index too.
Rounding out the changes are slight re-weights within the FYFT$ sub-index and a refocusing on functional udder traits within the MABL$ sub-index. The Calving Ability (CABL$) sub-index did not change.
The updates made to this proprietary GENEX index are an exciting reflection of its ability to evolve to meet your ever-changing needs. This commercially driven index and economically driven sub-indexes are the ideal combination for any operation.
Connect with us to learn how our world-class cattle genetics, progressive reproductive solutions, and value-added services can advance your operation. Click here to contact us today!