Trans Ova Genetics: Outstanding Care for Calves with High Genetic Potential
Drive past Trans Ova Genetics in Sioux Center, Iowa and it looks like any calf-raising facility with rows of calves in hutches. Spend any time there and you’ll quickly realize it’s a unique place to be.
Trans Ova Genetics
provides reproductive services for dairy and beef herds. These services include embryo transfer (ET), in-vitro fertilization (IVF), sexed-semen, genetic preservation and cloning. Clients bring their animals to Trans Ova Genetics to “advance and extend superior genetics.”
Live calf program
The hutches at Trans Ova Genetics are home to animals in the company’s live calf program. Through this program, embryos are implanted into beef recipients that have been tested for several diseases, including BVD and Johne’s Disease, and gestated to full-term onsite. Immediately after birth, calves are transferred to their own pens and receive four packs of colostrum replacer, equaling 240 grams of Ig. Once they are dry, they are moved to an outdoor hut.
For the first 10 days, the calves are fed two quarts of Calf’s 1st Choice milk replacer twice daily. They’ll transition to three quarts per feeding after 10 days. They are also introduced to a 22-percent starter and water immediately. Through the live calf program, producers are guaranteed a live calf at 30 days of age. They are available for pick-up by the customer when they are still on the bottle, between 30 and 45 days of age.
Managing calves with high genetic potential
The live calf program is managed by two calf program managers, five bottle feeders, three cow handlers, a night observer, and five to 10 part-time assistants. Employees at Trans Ova Genetics understand the immense responsibility they have for caring for these calves with high genetic potential. That’s why team members are onsite 24/7 and veterinarians are always on-call.
Employees pay specific attention to the basics of calf raising. Small wheels fastened to the outside of each hutch help monitor intakes. Purple tags attached to the hutches indicate when calves are bumped up to the bigger feeding. Sanitation is also a key factor. All bottles are sanitized between feedings. In addition, hutches remain empty for at least a week to prevent any potential spread of pathogens between calves.
Although Trans Ova Genetics has multiple locations throughout the U.S., the live calf program will only be offered at the Sioux Center, Iowa facility in 2012. Situated on the plains of western Iowa, calves have little to no natural wind blocks to protect them from the elements. To lower the incidence of frozen ears, provide additional calf comfort and offer employees a more comfortable work environment, Trans Ova Genetics is transitioning to new calf barns for the live calf program.
Four new barns were custom designed to fit Trans Ova Genetics’ needs. They measure 128 feet long by 32 feet wide with 60 individual pens per barn. Sand bedding is placed over 3 inches of pea gravel and 9 inches of red gravel. Between calves, the top 2 inches of sand will be removed, a layer of lime applied and 2 inches of new sand added. Deep straw bedding is placed on top to allow for nesting.
A gap between the pens and the sidewall allows for ventilation at the calf level without worry of an outside draft negatively affecting calves. A vent in the ridge of the barn allows for an air exit and tube ventilation keeps wind velocity between 60 and 80 anemometers at the calf level to promote good respiratory health. An electrical outlet can be accessed from each pen to hang heat lamps if necessary.
Although the science is complicated, the vision of Trans Ova Genetics is rather simple: “Multiply Success.” Five values guide Trans Ova Genetics’ business and team member actions: customer satisfaction, integrity, excellence, teamwork and balance. From attention to detail to state-of-the-art facilities, the innovative company has a policy of continual improvement as employees work toward the mission “to become the global leader in the application of innovative genetic and reproductive technology.”