The GENESIS Cooperative Herd is a progressive herd of Genex-owned cattle. Since 1989, this herd has produced elite animals, both artificial insemination bulls to profitably influence Genex members' herds and high genetic merit females to serve as the next generation of bull dams.
The GENESIS herd idea was conceived and developed back in 1989. Twenty-six years later, the positive impact is undeniable.
Below, Angie Coburn, Associate Vice President-Dairy Genetics, explains the what, how and why of GENESIS.
Q: WHAT IS GENESIS? WHY HAS IT LASTED?
A: The GENESIS Cooperative Herd is a herd of Holstein and Jersey cattle owned by the Genex membership. Co-op prefix females reside at 12 cooperator herds and five production facilities. GENESIS females are managed to develop the next generation of bulls that transmit genetic characteristics of high profitability for today's dairy operations.
GENESIS was built on a foundation of rapid genetic progress and accurate female genetic evaluations. In other words, we have focused on management of elite commercial females in a real-world setting. These founding principles enable us to celebrate this silver anniversary and claim the longest running nucleus breeding program in North America.
Q: HOW WAS THE GENESIS HERD INITIATED?
A: In 1989, with support from the 21st Century Genetics (a predecessor of the cooperative) board of directors, dairy genetics staff obtained more than 50 heifers to begin a trial. As stated in an article in the cooperative's Visions newsletter from November 1989, the trial was to evaluate use of an embryo program to "supply healthy, young bulls for the young sire sampling program that can meet the increasingly strict health requirements of the future." Obviously that trial was successful and the GENESIS herd has since been greatly expanded.
Q: WHAT ARE THE BREEDING GOALS OF GENESIS?
A: The goal stated back in that newsletter article from 1989 was "to make available higher genetic merit bulls that will return more profit to the cooperative and its members." My definition of today's breeding goals are quite similar: we select for profitable genetics as defined by our members' needs.
To effectively accomplish this objective, we have to "draw water from a deep well." In other words, we select the best females from more than 45,000 milking cows and breeding age heifers housed among the 19 sites. These donor females provide not only elite genetics, but unequaled genetic diversity. The final result is sires that provide you the opportunity to easily improve the genetics of your herd and a no fuss means to manage inbreeding.
Q: HOW HAS GENOMICS AFFECTED THE GENESIS HERD?
A: As part of the early research, nearly the entire GENESIS herd was genomic tested in 2008. The results immediately validated past efforts to breed for elite and accurate genetics. Now with genomic selection of males and females at a very young age, we are able to better accomplish GENESIS goals of faster genetic progress with shorter generation intervals. The pure speed of genomics is almost fantastic. In only a three-year period the number of GENESIS females ranking in the top 5% of the industry increased by tenfold.
Q: WHAT MAKES GENESIS GENETICS ACCURATE?
A: The facts prove GENESIS has powerful precision. In addition to the unbiased herd environments, the extensive genomic testing of GENESIS cow families and their herdmates improves the accuracy and stability of genomic predictions of Co-op prefix bulls. CRI members and customers can have confidence in the genetics they use in their herds.
Q: WHY HAS GENESIS EXPANDED INTO JERSEYS?
A: The growth of the Jersey breed is far beyond a fad and arguably the most noticeable trend in the U.S. dairy industry. In August 2013, we announced the inclusion of Jerseys, an initiative endorsed by the Genex board of directors. Through the inclusion of Jerseys, we plan to increase the availability of Jersey semen globally and develop genetics that provide maximum profit potential and adequate diversity for our members and customers. Like other GENESIS initiatives, this program complements the sire acquisitions we conduct with many valued producers. Together we can develop Jersey genetics that carry this breed to new heights.
Q: WHO ARE SOME OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL GENESIS ANIMALS?
A: Co-op RB Freddie Tinley, VG-85, is the daughter of high-ranking Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC) index sire, 1HO08784 FREDDIE. She's also the dam of the active lineup leader for ICC, 1HO11056 TROY. She's making incredible contributions to the GENESIS Cooperative Herd both in quantity and quality, with several more sons on the horizon!
1HO11056 TROY produces the perfect combination of average stature with outstanding udders. Since his release in April of 2014 TROY has held commanded respect with chart-topping places on the LNM$ and ICC$ charts.