PLAIN CITY, Ohio — When officials from the genetics company Select Sires dedicated their most recent facility on June 11, it was clear the new addition will have worldwide effect.
Before an audience of breeders, farmers, county and state leaders, CEO David Thorbahn talked about the history of the company, which dates back to 1965. Today, it has grown to become the largest single production unit for bull semen in the world.
It’s from that growth, and the need to meet the demands of an international market, that he proudly unveiled two new state-of-the-art housing and semen collection barns.
“That (growth) is one of the major reasons we needed to develop more facilities, and we also needed to develop these facilities to meet every health qualification known in the world so that we can serve dairymen from around the United States and from around the world,” he said.
Each barn has 44 stalls, at a sizable 242 square feet per stall. Together, they will add about 80 additional bulls.
Modern features include total-surface rubber floor mats, automated waterers and temperature control devices.
For the bull handler, safety rails are installed for leading bulls without incident, and handler escapes are in every pen, should the handler need to get out quickly.
Thorbahn said the new barns cover several functions — animal comfort and well-being, worker safety and environmental compliance. The massive, 200 foot-long manure pit is built with a total cover, to protect the air, and is fully cemented, to protect against surface contamination. The facilities self-contain all animal waste, and water discharge.
“This expansion will comfortably and safely house some of the world’s most valuable bovines that provide superior product for customers across the U.S., as well as in 90 countries around the world,” he said.
A guided tour led at least 100 guests through the barns, where they saw the improvements first-hand. Several commented on the many comfort features, especially the rubber flooring, which was installed by Harold’s Equipment of Dundee.
Select Sires of Union County employs 185 people, most of whom work in Plain City and many who have graduated from the agricultural sciences programs at Ohio State University. Bobby Moser, dean of OSU’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, participated in the tour, to show his own support.
The value of a Select Sires bull ranges from $30,000-$300,000. There are about 1,800 bulls housed in 63 barns, consuming 3,600 tons of hay, 6,500 tons of silage and 2,300 tons of pelletized feed. Moreover, most of these fees are raised on the 1,200 acres farmed by Select Sires.
Thorbahn said the company has been presented opportunities to relocate, but has a good home in Union County.
“The people of Union County are hard working, they’re proud, hard working and very industrious,” he said. “It’s these type of people that we have here at Select Sires and that are employed in our organization.”
His comments came on the heal of an undercover video produced by a pro-vegan animal rights group, on a dairy farm just down the road. He encouraged cattle producers to stand up for their industry, and their neighbors, who he said have been misrepresented.
The event was attended by Union County Commissioner Charles Hall, Plain City Mayor Sandra Adkins, representatives with U.S. Department of Agriculture, the local economic development council, chamber of commerce and many others.