Business Profile: COBA/Select Sires

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COLUMBUS –Dairy and beef breeders know to turn to COBA/Select Sires for the best genetics to get their cows and heifers pregnant.

The farmer-owned cooperative celebrated 2007 as its 11th consecutive phenomenal sales year, according to general manager Bernie Heisner.

In 1997, COBA sold 670,884 units of semen. Ten years later, in the same market area, the company sold 1,566,994 units of semen.

The cooperative is owned by more than 4,300 member-farmers and features semen from 1,780 bulls, both dairy and beef, plus related reproductive services aimed at getting cows pregnant in the most efficient ways possible.

Heisner said the business continues to see increased demand for its Select Check technicians who visit a herd every day, check for heats, breed the cows and assist the dairyman in reproductive performance matters.

Sexed semen sales have also grown in a remarkable fashion and, most importantly, the past year was marked by decent milk prices for the dairymen served in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“It looks like 2008 will be a year that starts a new era in livestock agriculture and perhaps agriculture in general,” Heisner said, noting there are many uncertainties and challenges with significantly higher feed and fuel costs.

COBA has had a very strong first quarter in 2008, and farmer-directors recently approved a 2008 Customer Appreciation Rebate program. This rebate program will credit each COBA customer’s account in October 2008 with an amount equal to 10 percent of their semen purchases from January 1 to Aug. 29, 2008.

The cooperative believes this a responsible action to assist our customers in a financial way, Heisner said.

Demand for sexed semen continues to grow since COBA/Select Sires first offered this product for use on dairy heifers in 2005.

To give an idea of the acceptance of sexed semen by COBA customers, Heisner said through the first four months of 2007 sexed semen sales accounted for 4.3 percent of semen sales. Through the first four months of 2008, sexed semen accounted for 11 percent of sales.

Select Sires has been actively involved with bovine genomics.

“It is exciting that the entire bovine genome has been mapped and we expect USDA will begin including genomic information in the bull proofs that are released in January 2009,” Heisner said.

Select Sires is already having young bulls tested for their genomic info prior to bringing them to the stud for sampling, with the belief that actions will allow for a continued bright future in genetic leadership in the future.

“In terms of finding the best genetics to help dairymen breed more highly productive cows with increased longevity, bovine genomics is probably the most significant breakthrough in dairy cattle breeding since multiple herd sampling and herdmate deviations were introduced in the 1960s,” Heisner said.

As a cooperative, COBA receives excellent feedback from those farmers who have been elected to serve as directors and delegates, according to Heisner.

Management attempts to listen closely to the needs and concerns of member-owners, and recognizes the value in its team of individuals who care about and enjoy assisting dairy and beef producers achieve their goals.

In addition, COBA employees work together to provide effective and efficient service, and return profits to member-owners in the form of patronage dividends. Over the last 10 years, COBA has returned on a yearly basis an average of 10.4 percent of semen purchases in patronage.

“We plan to continue to listen closely to our member-owner-customers and respond to their wishes and needs as best we can,” Heisner said. “The past 11 years of record sales have indicated that if Select Sires provides top genetics and COBA has competent, caring people to provide efficient and effective service, our sales grow.”

COBA/Select Sires is 1224 Alton Darby Creek Road, Columbus, OH 43228. Representatives can be reached by calling 614-878-5333; e-mailing coba@cobaselect.com or online at www.cobaselect.com or www.selectsires.com.

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