To make sure their animals have the same desirable traits from generation to generation, farmers rely on livestock genetics companies for selective breeding. This means choosing outstanding livestock breeding stock that meet customer demands for high-quality cattle and swine.
Many of the most prestigious names in the industry are headquartered in Ohio, as is one of the nation’s premier labs, the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL) of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
“I think the reason major livestock genetics companies migrate to Ohio is due in part to our lab,” says State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey. “We have a knowledgeable staff capable of getting accurate test results in a timely fashion, and we provide ready access to real-time information.”
Plain City, Ohio-based Select Sires, the largest cattle genetics company in North America, produces more genetic product at one location than any other cattle genetics company in the world.
Also using the services provided by the ADDL is Hendersonville, Tenn.-based PIC International. PIC, an international leader in providing superior swine breeding stock to the global pork chain, has several locations in Ohio. Two of the top U.S. swine artificial insemination facilities, Birchwood Genetics and Lean Value Sires, are also located in Ohio.
“Our lab is set up so that veterinarians can go online 24/7 to access test results,” Forshey says. “Turnaround time is a big issue, especially in terms of exports. There’s a limited amount of time to coordinate the testing and get the paperwork completed to meet the international health requirements.”
Ohio exported approximately 30,000 cattle in 2012 and all were tested at the ADDL.
Among its North American competitors, Select Sires has a 35 percent market share domestically and 27 percent market share internationally. This market leadership is made possible by the local service to dairy and beef producers provided by the nine farmer-owned and controlled cooperative members that comprise Select Sires.
“Select Sires provides a strong sire lineup based on the untiring work of its sire analysts in procuring the best bulls from across the United States and Canada,” says Dr. Don Monke, vice president of production operations.
Monke says Ohio is a good fit for Select Sires for several reasons.
“Central Ohio is a great location to grow the corn silage and grass hay fed to its bulls,” he says. “A specially formulated pellet that supplements the forages is prepared in central Ohio. By being located in the eastern region of the Midwest, Select Sires can transport bulls from East Coast states, the Great Plains states or states within the Great Lakes region within two days.”
The testing available through the ADDL is also an important factor.
“Select Sires exports more than 4 million breeding units of semen annually to more than 90 countries,” Monke says. “To achieve the biosecurity required for this extensive international marketing program, Select Sires must conduct thousands of health tests on its bulls annually.”
That makes the company a major customer of the lab services, and the consistent submissions of test specimens provides regular work and financial assistance to the lab, which in turn provides a basis for the lab to offer a wide array of diagnostic procedures to consumers across the state.