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top13of2013In an industry where a few major players dominate the world market, it can be very intimidating for new participants about to enter the marketplace.  I can still remember working with David Eastman and Albert Cormier when they launched GenerVations.  At that time, there was no such thing as genomics, and even though we had the #1 LPI sire, Champion, we still took a lot of heat about the reliability of his proof.  However, I learned then, as I know now, fortune favors the bold.

Fast forward 12 years and things have significantly changed.  Genomics has leveled the playing field.  Any company can market their genetics with the same level of confidence as those of the large A.I. companies.  For years everyone has talked about how, in 2013, the A.I. industry would change drastically when new players enter the sire sampling market, as a result of breeders being able to sample their own bulls.  However, the reality is changes have already started.  Since the introduction of Genomics back in 2008, there have been four significant players enter the A.I. business:  AI Total, DairyBullsOnline, Jetstream Genetics and Trans-America Genetics (TAG).  They have all made a significant impact on the A.I. industry in a short period of time.  Each has gone about their strategy in a different way but each has had their own level of success.

The AI Total Story

Since partnering with AI Service Zuid-West Friesland (A company that provides insemination services for Dutch dairy farmers) in 2010 Jan De Vries and the AI Total team have been very aggressive.  Many years in the embryo business (Diamond Genetics and Eurogenes) have provided them with a base of marketing operations that has served them well (Read more: EUROGENES: You Love It.  They List It!).  Looking to service the producer market, AI Total looks to produce productive, functional, healthy and sustainable cows.  For De Vries this means looking at sires that excel in traits such as calving ease and DPR, while not being too large in size for the environments in which they are housed.

At the moment AI Total owns about 15 to 20 bulls that are housed in Europe, and carry sires from GenerVations, Jetstream Genetics and others.  A highlight of their current lineup is Hood MOM Emmet, the Man-O-Man son from Tramilda-N Baxter Emily VG-2yr, the dam of the popular North American sire Epic.  His 2nd dam is Wabash-Way Evett-ET (VG-86, 2y) who is a Shottle daughter, out of Crockett-Acres Elita-ET (VG-87 DOM 2*) and followed by nine VG or EX dams.  Emmett sires cows that are not too big, transmit favorable components and have strong fitness traits.  These are all heavily sought after by producers around the world.

In an industry that requires bold moves to be successful, De Vries and his team are not afraid to make them.  By working in many different aspects of the dairy genetics marketplace, Diamond Genetics/Eurogenes and AI Total are able to stay ahead and be trendsetters instead of followers.

The DairyBullsOnline Story

Starting out in the R&W market but getting sold on polled, Bryan Quanbury and Roy MacGregor have been extremely aggressive in developing DairyBullsOnline (Read more:  They’re Sold Polled).  They are promoting polled genetics as the solution that saves labor, reduces stress and improves consumer image.  “We know the breed will not be polled in 10 years, but we believe in 10 years bulls that transmit the recessive horn trait will be very hard to market.  Today there are about a dozen polled bulls over 2000 GTPI.  Next year that will double.  We expect that trend to continue for some time.”  Bryan Quanbury and Roy MacGregor.

By leveraging technology both on the web through its marketing and social media platforms as well as by using technology for shipping semen internationally DairyBullsOnline is able to operate at much higher efficiency.  This enables them to pass benefits back to the producers and breeders that they source their genetics from (Read more: A Wake-Up Call to All-A.I. Companies).

Despite what they lack in market share, they are able to attract unique genetics through offering seed stock breeders a much higher royalty percentage.  A great example of this is the sale of Kulp-Dale Golden PP-Red semen for $10,000 a dose, where the proceeds went straight to the breeder (Read more:  $10,000 a Dose Polled Semen).

MacGregor and Quanbury have not been afraid to blaze their own trial.  Not worrying what others would say about them, they have had a clear vision and have executed their plan very effectively.  They knew polled before polled was cool.  Being trend setters has it’s rewards, as anyone looking to get into polled in a significant way will certainly have to take a serious look at DairyBullsOnline and the trend setting moves they are making.

The Jetstream Genetics Story

With the arrival of Genomics, Jeff Butler and the ownership team at Jetstream, saw the opportunity for small AI-organizations that focus on top genomic genetics.  Having already heavily invested in some of the top genomics females in the world for his Butlerview operations, Butler already had a source of some of the most elite genetics in the world (Read more: Exciting Times For Butlerview).

Established in April 2012, theirs is the shortest story of these four bold, world-changing companies.  Nevertheless it has certainly been a very eventful one fourteen months.  Roger Turner, Sales and Genetic Manager for Jetstream Genetics, reports that it has exceeded expectations (Read more: Turner Moving Genetics Forward at Jetstream).

At the moment, Jetstream has about 15 bulls that are housed in Wisconsin.  Turner, a 15-year veteran in the AI industry, expects that number to increase by about 15 bulls per year.  A highlight of the Jetstream lineup are the Cash brothers, Farnear Cashcoin and Cashmoney, sired by the now popular proven sire Observer from MS Chassity Goldwyn Cash VG87 2yr, who is out of the 2012 Golden Dam Finalist Regancrest S Chassity EX-92 (Read more:  Regancrest S Chassity – 2012 Golden Dam Finalist).  Other popular sires include Colt 45 RC who is the top available type polled sire in the world.

Similar to AI Total and Diamond Genetics, Jetstream and Butlerview partner to be a complete genetics company.  In the Butlerview program, there are some of the most well-known cattle in the world, including the extremely popular show cows REW Happy Go Lucky and Cookview Goldwyn Monique.  Jeff Butler is definitely not afraid to make bold moves.  He has put his money where his mouth is and is blazing new trails in the dairy cattle genetics marketplace.  A clear example of this is how Jetstream is leading the way in online semen ordering (Read more: New sires available on easy to use Jetstream online order system).

The TAG Story

Of the four new AI companies profiled here, Trans-America Genetics (TAG) is certainly the oldest of the group, with their first sires already receiving official daughter proofs.  The road has been an interesting one for Patrice Simard and the TAG team.  Since starting TAG with Alan Bryson almost 5 years ago, there have been ups and downs, but the hard work is starting to provide dividends for all involved in the journey

Indeed the highlight has to be the success of Ronalee Toystory Domain.  Domain is the Toystory son that was among the top Genomic sires in the world for a long time and has now successfully transitioned into one of the top daughter proven sires.  This achievement is very important for a young AI company as breeders watch to see how their genetic programs turn out.  Success like this has positively helped TAG grow in the international marketplace (Read more: TAG Continues to Grow on the International Scene).

Talking about genetic programs, TAG is another company that has the complete genetics marketplace covered.  However, unlike the others, TAG does it all under one brand and has been well-rewarded from the great publicity this has received.  Many of their Genomic Giants Sales rank at the top of the yearly sales lists (Read more:  The 2013 Genomic Giant Sale was a Giant Success!).

Aggressive and energetic does not begin to describe the team at TAG.  They have had to weather the trials and tribulations of starting a business and investing your heart and soul into it, but the rewards are starting to pay off as the TAG brand is catching the eye of breeders around the world.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Starting an AI company is not an easy task.  It takes years before you receive your first daughter proven sire, and distribution can prove to be a nightmare. Add to that the fact that you`re under a microscope as everyone is judged each move you make.  In order to get ahead, you have to be bold and aggressive. Anything else will result in failure.  Fortunately, for these four AI companies, their progressive moves are turning heads and putting good fortune boldly in their path.


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A Wake-up Call to All A.I. Companies

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Lately, there has been a great deal of discussion regarding March 2013 when dairy breeders will be able to genomically test their own bulls.  (Read – How Genomics Is Killing the Dairy Industry)  One thing for sure is that it is forcing many Artificial Insemination companies to re-think their corporate strategy.

Probably one of the greatest areas for executives at the AI companies to look at for examples on how to position their companies is the retail industry.  There are many similarities between A.I. and retail, especially considering the need for product differentiation as well as being a service organization.  Three great retail examples to look at are Wal-Mart, Apple, and Amazon.


If you look at the large artificial insemination companies, you can already see that many of them are heading toward the Wal-Mart model, where they try to offer the highest quality product at “always low prices.”  Companies like Alta Genetics, ABS Global, Accelerated, and CRI have identified the largest portion of the marketplace, the commercial producer.  This is where they can sell the highest volume semen and maximize profit not through the semen prices they charge but rather through how efficiently they can operate.

Similar to the Wal-Mart, one stop shopping model, many of these A.I. organizations now try to be a complete solution to their customers offering such services as, herd health, feed & nutrition in addition to their genetic and reproductive services.

When it comes to their genetic offerings, the key here is that they are selling shelf space.  No longer is it as much about the product they are selling, as it is about the complete package they are trying to offer to the commercial breeder.  That means that they are looking to provide  a consistent product rather than seeking  to have the #1 TPI or LPI sire.  Therefore, they do not have to go out and source the top sires but, rather, they need to provide consistent reliable genetics that can help advance their commercial partner herds.  This means they will not have to get as aggressive on their lease deals and can still focus on their efficiencies and volumes as opposed to the ultra-aggressive sourcing of top gPA TPI and gPA LPI sires.

Once the world’s most dominating retail entity, there is no question that the Wal-Mart model works, Although  it was once believed that only one company could survive and thrive in the ultra-competitive big box store world.  The recent performance of companies like Target does hold out some hope for the many A.I. companies looking to battle for this large market segment.


In  contrast to the Wal-Mart model is Apple.  The most admired company in the world has built its market position through developing, marketing and direct selling their own unique product to what most would consider a niche market.  They key part to this model is having a very clear vision who your marketplace is and developing an extremely differentiated product in the eyes of their customers. A.I. companies that seem to be emulating this model are GenerVations with their work with the Lylehaven Lila Z and Wabash-Way Evett families, JetStream Genetics with their work with Regancrest  S Chassity, and Select Sires through their Aggressive Reproductive Technologies (ART) program, though to a much larger audience that the first two (Read – Select Sires vs Semex: A contrast in Cooperatives).

Similar to how Apple has received widespread criticism for some of their own business practices, companies like Select Sires have received criticism for owning females (Read –Should A.I. Companies Own Females ). Though as the Apple model demonstrates you need to have a distinctive product in order to survive. The biggest thing that all three of these companies have learned is that, in order to compete in this ultra-competitive marketplace, they need to cost effectively source their genetics.  That means producing their own sires and accelerating their rate of genetic advancement so that they can have a product that is unique in the marketplace. (Read – The Genomic Advancement Rate – The Battle for Genetic Supremacy)

There are two main lessons I think many of these A.I. companies can learn.  First always be innovative and at the front of the marketplace.  If you are not pushing the front end of product development/sire sampling, you will fall behind your competitors and get lost in no man’s land.  The second lesson is that you have to control the license to your product.  Apple has never allowed other companies to come in and license their product.  They also did not create the iPhone or iPad and then the next day let their competitors take their products and designs and create their own versions knock off versions.  Companies that did allow this to happen, like Microsoft, have developed much larger market share, but have fallen on financial challenges. For A.I. companies that means you need to control your young sire sampling so that you have the next generation of genetics before your competitors do.  While some would say that is not fair, in order for these companies to compete they have no option but to do so.  While having negative sentiment in a small segment of  the marketplace is not ideal, the risk of not having a differentiated product is a much bigger gamble.

More recently, I have seen the emergence of online semen retailers akin to the model.  Companies like DairyBullsOnline in North America and Dairy Daughters in the UK, are able to compete not on their size and scale, or their own distinctive product (though DairyBullsOnline does have a strong segment in the polled and red and white market) but rather through their efficiencies.  These companies do not have large facilities with great numbers of staff, but rather they are extremely efficient in their operations and source their product direct from breeders or smaller A.I. organizations.  Leveraging technology both on the web as well as for shipping semen internationally these companies are able to operate at much higher efficiency, passing benefits back to the producers and the breeders they source their genetics from.  Despite what they lack in market share, they are able to attract unique genetics through offering seed stock breeders a much higher royalty percentage.

The interesting part about this model is that Amazon was able to stay competitive and fight off many competitors by developing private labels and exclusive marketing arrangements, including being the online e-tailer for many large retail companies.  As many of the organizations are forced to get more efficient will they be able to reduce costs and develop their own platforms that will take away the advantage these companies have?  You can already see it in the retail world with traditional companies like Wal-Mart and Best Buy committing significant resources to their web properties.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The artificial insemination world is changing very rapidly.  While many companies have already identified what part of the market segment they are going to try to occupy, others seem to be taking a sit and wait approach.  The problem is, if they have not already identified whether they are going to be a Wal-Mart, Apple, or Amazon, it is too late, as many of the other companies already have a significant head start.


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