Business profile: COBA/Select Sires

COLUMBUS — Making breeding decisions for your beef or dairy herd isn’t easy. And it’s a decision you’ll have to live with for a long time.

But you don’t have to make the decision alone. COBA/Select Sires can help.

The cooperative, headquartered at 1224 Alton Darby Creek Road, Columbus, serves more than 4,300 member-owners, providing semen of top fertility and genetics from seven dairy breeds and 15 beef breeds.

In addition to semen sales, the co-op’s trained technicians can do heat detection and breeding in high cattle concentration areas. Farmers can also use Select Mating Services to help dairy producers evaluate their individual cow strengths and weaknesses and choose a service sire for maximum improvement of the next generation — a dating service for cows, if you will.

There are also Select Reproductive Services to assist breeders in achieving reproductive efficiencies to get cows pregnant in their herds.

Built by dairymen. COBA was founded in 1946 and, in 1965, COBA was one of the four founding cooperatives of Select Sires.

The goal in founding Select Sires was to sample more young sires to create high reliability proven sires for dairyman to use with confidence.

Predicting performance. Last year, starting in January, Select Sires started offering top young dairy sires chosen on the basis of their pedigree and genomic information.

Select Sires was one of the major North American artificial insemination organizations that cooperated with the USDA’s Animal Improvement Lab in the prior decade in facilitating the research that led to USDA’s ability to more accurately predict future performance on more than a dozen important traits like: milk, protein, fat, calving ease, productive life, type, udders and feet and legs.

Tough dairy times. Although the last 18 months have been difficult ones for milk producers, COBA/Select Sires has worked in creative ways so member-owner-customers could continue to use top genetics from Select Sires in their dairy herds.

Being a financially strong cooperative, COBA was able to weather the difficult year of 2009 without cutting back on any services or personnel, said Bernie Heisner, general manager of COBA/Select Sires since 1993.

“The loyalty of our cooperative’s customers resulted in 2009 being the second best year for units of semen sold in the 63-year history of COBA,” Heisner added.

And farmers will be rewarded with patronage of 2.4 percent of semen purchases in 2009.

Major shift. Sexed semen availability since 2005 and genomic information on young Holstein and Jersey sires since January 2009 have been the most significant changes to the A.I. industry since multi-herd sire proofs replaced dam-daughter comparisons in the 1960s, Heisner said. And Select Sires has been a leader in both sexed semen and genomics advances.

While the company is taking a “cautious approach” to such new technology, Heisner said Select Sires is second to none in offering the “most fertile sexed semen in the field and the most high genomic young sires.”

Industry recognition. In early 2010, a couple of dairy leaders who have been associated with COBA/Select Sires received significant dairy industry honors.

Tom Fleming of Harrod, Ohio, current president of COBA/Select Sires, and Bernie Heisner were inducted into the Ohio State Dairy Hall of Service.

And a past resident of COBA/Select Sires, Bill Ramsey of Louisville, Ohio, was selected by the National Dairy Shrine to receive the 2010 Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder Award presented by that organization during its banquet at the 2010 World Dairy Expo.

Only one other Ohio Dairyman, Wayne Sliker, St. Paris, Ohio has received this award.

Learn more. To find out more about the services offered through COBA/Select Sires, e-mail coba@cobaselect.com, or visit www.cobaselect.com or www.selectsires.com.

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