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Select Sires celebrates 50 years

Progressive Dairyman Editor Peggy Coffeen Published on 20 August 2015

chichester center

Select Sires recently rolled out the red carpet to ring in its 50th anniversary.



From across the country and around the world, nearly 500 dairy farmer cooperative members headed to Plain City, Ohio, on July 15 to take part in a historic day that included facilities tours, guest speakers and bull viewing.

See more photos of the event in this slideshow.

Learn about Select Sires history in this video.

holstein bull calf

Visitors were privy to a peek at the up-and-coming bulls housed at the nearby Calf Campus. Here, baby bulls come in between 35 and 45 days old.


Most of these calves are born at Trans Ova Genetics in Iowa or Genetic Futures in Wisconsin and are the offspring of the 200 donor females owned by the cooperative.

Phil and Kathy Marshfield

They are kept in individual pens until weaning, then moved into an adjacent barn’s group pens of two or three.

Next door to the Calf Campus, nearly 600 mature bulls call Darby Creek home. Between 3 and 5 years old, these animals have been sampled but are not yet on collection. About three-quarters of the dairy bulls here are Holstein and the remainder Jersey.

Dick Thorbaun and Dick Chichester

These were just two of the cooperative’s 13 different sites, which collectively house nearly 2,000 bulls. According to the director of research, Dr. Matt Utt, the focus for the future is on meeting a growing need. “We are collecting more and more bulls, with more and more demand out of younger sires, especially with the genomic era now,” he said.


David and Heather Burton family

One of the highlights of the celebration was the bull parade, emceed by Charlie Will, Holstein sire program manager. More than a dozen of the cooperative’s most notable names made a rare public appearance, including Valentino, Planet, Shamrock, Mogul, Gold Chip and Bradnick.

2015 not only marks the golden anniversary of the breeding cooperative, but it also celebrates 50 years since the birth of one of the Holstein breed’s most influential sires, Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation (EX-96-GM).

Andrea and Jason Goff and Todd Mason

Former company general manager Dick Chichester reflected on the impact of this bull, stating, “There are more Holstein cattle in the world today with his genes than any other.”

Also on the agenda were updates from Dr. Ray Nebel, Clif Marshall and Jeff Ziegler, which included a report on efforts to improve fertility on the male side through research and technology, and on the female side through rumination and health monitoring. PD

PHOTO 1: At the Chichester Center, visitors viewed the arena where semen is collected and the laboratories where it is analyzed, processed and stored. Between 120 to 150 bulls are collected daily, with each collection yielding approximately 300 straws.

PHOTO 2: Are these the faces of the next big names in A.I.? With a GTPI of 2788, Wa-Del Yoder Bandares-ET is the highest-genomic bull calf in the barn. Behind him, his penmate, OCD Eraser-P 32694, is the top polled calf at the site with a GTPI of 2594.

PHOTO 3: The celebration was an especially exciting day for Phil and Kathy Marshfield of Marcellus, New York, breeders of Mountfield SSI Dcy Mogul-ET. For the first time, they saw in person the bull they had sold as an embryo out of their cow, Mountfield Marsh Maxine-ET VG-88. Little did they know at the time, Mogul would go on to rank among the top TPI bulls in the world.

PHOTO 4: General Manager David Thorbaun (right) was joined by his predecessor, Dick Chichester (left), to emcee a lunchtime reflection of the cooperative’s history and achievements over the last half-century.

PHOTO 5: The David and Heather Burton family from Virginia chose the celebration over their county fair. “We didn’t want to miss this,” Heather said. “This is once-in-a-lifetime.” Children David, Hope and Luke enjoyed touring the facilities.

PHOTO 6: Dairymen from far and wide converged on the historic day. Flying in from the Southwest were Andrea and Jason Goff from New Mexico and Todd Mason from Oklahoma. Both men are board directors for COBA/Select Sires. Photos by Peggy Coffeen.

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