The 3rd Annual BC Genetic Marketing Workshop was held on February 22, 2018, at the Quality Inn & Conference Centre in Abbotsford, BC. Hosted by the BC Holstein Branch, the event was well attended by enthusiastic breeders from the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island.
Greg Dietrich started things off with a presentation on his work with the Progenesis program at Semex, where he is the Internal Program Manager. Greg is involved in all aspects of the operation from matings and purchase of donor dams to calving and raising the Progenesis calves. Three main facilities including: a farm with a facility for housing and calving in recipients, another where all the Progensis males and females are raised until weaning, and the main milking herd at Character Holsteins are all utilized with the program under Greg’s management.
In his talk, Greg stressed the importance of following strict SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) and protocols with staff so that when there is a breakdown, problems can easily be identified. There are between 1200-1500 calves born in the Progenesis program each year, so “it’s important to have strong communication between employees and management, and protocols in place so no details get missed,” said Greg. He also touched on creating a culture in the work place, saying, “staff needs to become a part of the culture at the operation, geared towards the same goals and committed to working together. The process takes a lot of work, but it helps a lot with staffing.”
Holstein Canada’s Morgan Sangster, Western Field Service Rep, and Jeanette Van der Linden, Extension and Education Specialist, walked through some important new features on the Holstein Canada website. They touched on calf registrations, creating web accounts, and how to view and understand individual benchmark reports for your herd.
Following lunch, Dave Eastman spoke to the group about deliberately spending money on the right bulls that match your breeding goals and appeal to the specific markets you want to reach. Dave’s marketing background is extensive from his involvement with GenerVations Inc., which was sold in 2014, to his current work with Validity Genetic Testing and his partnership in Vogue Cattle Co. Dave says it’s important to identify your market first and then go from there. For example, at Vogue he selects bulls for great type and a full pedigree, competitive genomics, polled or homozygous polled and A2A2, with red or red carrier being an added bonus. Vogue Cattle Co. regularly participates in shows which Dave says is important because you always want to stay in touch with the market place. In his opinion, you can easily break into international markets if you use bulls that translate well across all systems and do what you can to create more customer friendly products (ex. A2A2 milk). He said, “don’t necessarily think of what you’re doing now, but where you want to go in the future with your genetics. Don’t wait for people to call you and inquire about your embryo’s, find out what other countries are buying and make that product.”
Dr. Rich Vanderwal, Abbotsford Veterinary Clinic, gave a brief overview of the advantages and process of IVF and was the joined by Greg and Dave on a panel which also included Jeff Kooyman of Westcoast Holsteins. The panel shared their thoughts on IVF Donor criteria, how long a heifer should typically be IVF’d for if she’s started at 6 months old, the pro’s and con’s of using Sexed Semen for IVF flushes, the quality of fresh vs. frozen IVF eggs, and concluded that there are several tools available to dairy producers who want to improve their genetics and that its more cost effective the ever before.
The event was sponsored by Westgen, Select Sires GenerVations, AgWest Veterinary Group Ltd., Clearbrook Grain & Milling and the Westgen Endowment Fund.