With North American A.I. bull studs now off-limits to any outside visitors as a biosecurity precaution, Semex brought a virtual tour of its Gencor sire facility in Guelp, Ontario, to World Dairy Expo visitors on Saturday.
The tour's star is Comestar Lheros, Canada's only Excellent-97 sire, and only one of nine Semex bulls that have sold more than a million units of semen. The virtual tour takes visitors through the facility's tight security procedures right into the bull barn, the collection area and on through the semen freezing process.
It is an eye-opening experience for many of World Dairy Expo's young visitors, many of whom have never visited an A.I. bull stud, much less see a bull being collected.
As 5-year-old Lohan Sieber sat next to me and asked, "What are they doing, daddy?” I was glad his dad, Martin Sieber, had to explain and not me.
Nevertheless, the tour is a wonderful way to show and tell virtual tourists how the bulls are handled and cared for each day. And Lheros was quite the star.
Seventy inches tall at the shoulder and weighing in at more than a ton, Lheros is a lean, imposing giant that can dwarf all but the most stout of his handlers. As the tour operator says, "Lheros is as close to perfect in physical attraction as possible.”
The sire has more than 41,000 daughters in 15,400 herds. On the Canadian system, he has a estimated breeding value of +217 kilograms of milk and a Lifetime Profit Index of +719. For more information on Lheros, click here.
The tour also gave a quick look at how young sires are handled and housed through their sampling and waiting periods. "Each young bull is treated as though they are the next millionaire sire,” says the tour guide.
And well they should. Stantos Sydney, classified at EX-91, is the first of Lheros' sons to make the cut and begin his career at Semex.
And as it so happens, Lheros' owner, Marc Comtois, was selected as the 2008 National Dairy Shrine's 2008 Distinguished Cattle Breeder.
For more information on Semex, go to www.semex.com.
Jim Dickrell is editor of Dairy Today. You can reach him via e-mail at email@example.com.