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♦ Jersey GENESIS
♦ Jersey GENESIS

Scott Carson, Dairy Procurement Specialist, Genex

When the GENESIS Cooperative Herd was initiated more than 25 years ago, the goal was to create a source of dairy genetics that would be free of environmental biases – biases that distorted the performance level of some material lines within the Holstein breed. Overall, that goal remains in effect still today.

While the intention is the same, GENESIS has undergone numerous changes, most notably impacted by the advent of genomic evaluations. Genomic evaluations demonstrated the unparalleled genetic excellence of GENESIS and made GENESIS the envy of the artificial insemination (A.I.) industry.

Change is expected to happen, but 25 years ago few people would have predicted the need to expand GENESIS to a breed other than Holstein. However, times do change. In the last decade there has been remarkable growth in the Jersey breed as commercial dairy producers have embraced the little brown cow's production efficiency.

In 2011, Genex created a committee tasked with evaluating the sustainability of Jersey breed growth and formulating a strategic plan to ensure the cooperative's product offering would keep pace with demand. All data indicated Jersey breed growth was not only sustainable, but could accelerate. Among other initiatives, the committee recommended the incorporation of Jerseys into the GENESIS Cooperative Herd.

In Cooperation
In 2012, the cooperative began to further develop a relationship with Aardema Dairies in Idaho. At the time, the dairy was already committed to milking about 50% Jerseys equating to close to 15,000-head.

Speaking about the attributes of the Jersey cow and their decision to milk Jerseys, Aardema Dairies manager Jordan Leak comments, "We appreciate the Jersey's ability to stay healthy and breed back quickly. We like their efficiency in producing high component milk with less total dry matter intake."

In 2013, the dairy officially joined GENESIS as a cooperator herd. This expanded relationship seemed logical as both John Andersen and Jordan Leak of Aardema Dairies have a passion for genetic improvement and share the cooperative's vision of the profitable dairy cow – whether black, white or brown.

In Jordan's words, "GENESIS and Aardema Dairies have very similar breeding goals. Joining GENESIS was an easy fit as we were already doing embryo work on our own elite females. Adding GENESIS animals has only increased our pool of elite donors and allowed us to make longer strides in reaching our breeding goals as well as supplying bulls to a great company."

With the addition of Aardema Dairies, Genex instantly had access to a population of Jerseys rivaling any in the world. Through extensive genomic testing the Aardema population has proven to be as rich in genetic quality as expected. Today, 6% of the top genomic JPI™ and genomic Cheese Merit (CM$) females in the breed reside at Aardema Dairies.

Seek and Find
As Aardema Dairies joined GENESIS, the Genex dairy genetics staff also began a nationwide search for additional elite Jerseys that could add quality to the Jersey GENESIS herd. The objective was to obtain heifers of high genetic quality and pedigree diversity from commercial herds where environmental biases would not be a concern. Genex purchased 12 heifers through private treaty and at public auction. Each was given the opportunity to produce multiple offspring through embryos transfer as heifers.

The first purchase, and still the most impactful, was DP Dimension Wesley1468-ET from the Moss family of Desert Park Jerseys in Jefferson, Oregon. Wesley already has two sons in stud for future release. Her daughters by 1JE00711 PLUS and 1JE00794 ZAYD will calve in early 2016, putting the second generation of GENESIS-bred Jerseys on the ground just 30 months after the first GENESIS Jersey.

Of the 12 females, eight are already in milk. Seven have been scored and each is Very Good, led by Wesley at 87 points.

Making a Genetic Impact
GENESIS has already succeeded in producing bulls that will sire profitable daughters for the cooperative's members and customers. With the August sire summary, two Aardema bulls were added to the lineup; 1JE00902 Aardema 4025 ETHAN and 1JE00903 Aardema 4057 MARCUS are solid, profit-based sires.

Additional bulls have arrived in stud too. Co-op AD Zayd BAILEY{6}-ET, a song of DP Dimension Wesley 1468-ET, is scheduled for activation as a genomic giant this fall. 1JE00929 Co-op AD WISDOM, an October 2014 calf will be sued as a mating sire this fall before QUANTUM™ sampling. 1JE00930 SPUD, a promising Badger son, should reach QUANTUM sampling in early 2016.

Another Co-op AD (Aardema Dairies) prefix bull that is in stud has stolen the spotlight. In mid-April, 1JE00935 Co-Op AD WORLD CUP-ET ranked as the number one Jersey bull for both CM$ and JPI. He held this rank for three months, May through July. However, nothing lasts forever in the genomic era, and in August, WORLD CUP was displaced from the top of the JPI list. He still stands atop the CM$ list, outdoing the next bull by $20. WORLD CUP should have semen for contract matings before the new year.

Aardema Dairies has proved to be the ideal partner for Genex as the GENESIS herd has expanded to the Jersey breed. In just four years, Jersey GENESIS has grown from a long-term goals to a tangible reality with breed-leading genetics. For years to come, members and customers will come to benefit from the profitable, breed-leading genetics from Jersey GENESIS.

August 2015