Our 2019 All West Summer Intern has been anything but bored this season as he spends ten weeks traveling through our territory and beyond! Although his time with us is not ending quite yet, he is sharing the highlights of his experience so far in this issue of DiamondCuts e-news!
This summer has so far been a tremendous opportunity to expand my agricultural horizons, learn about the A.I. industry, and work with a fantastic group of people in order to serve farmers in a positive, impactful way. While I didn’t have concerns about being stuck in the office all day filing papers, I never imagined being involved in such a variety of activities and programs. No matter what region I’m in, the All West family has provided a meaningful work week that teaches me new concepts and builds on old ones.
Starting off in the Burlington office, I spent time learning what has to happen behind the scenes for inventory and products to get from the office to a farmer’s hands (or in the tank!). The awesome crew here take orders and requests from salesmen and breeders in Western and Eastern Washington and coordinates with the Select Sires headquarters in Ohio to ensure that supply matches up with demand. It can be quite a difficult task to stay on top of over 1,000 accounts in this northern All West territory, but they make it look easy. I had the opportunity to fill out order forms for Eastern Washington distribution, pack tanks with semen units and gather some of the many nutritional and reproductive products that All West markets.
In week two, I went to the “Sunnyside” of Washington and spent two weeks in the Yakima Valley, Columbia Basin, and Eastern Oregon. While I had experience working on a large dairy in high school, this was my first exposure to numerous over 3,000-cow operations. I rode hundreds of miles with salesmen Kit Watson and Alan Yost, and learned the value of consistently maintaining positive customer relations. I realized that it takes a special talent to know every eastside dairy location, the corresponding breeder routes, and farm owner or manager schedules. Alongside All West veteran Bill Van de Graaf, I visited with dairy owners about the future of dairy farming, specifically around Sunnyside. It was a great opportunity to talk about some of the major changes in the A.I. industry and how All West has increased herd profitability by providing various services alongside breeding cows. One of these programs is Select Reproductive Solutions (SRS). I learned how this works through doing a genetic audit and developing an Optimal Genetic Pathway (OGP) with various All West team members. While on a herd visit with Select Mating Service (SMS) specialist Randy Van Weirengen, I witnessed effective management in all areas of a dairy operation. The combination of maximum cow comfort, feed intake optimization, technological advancements, and consistent style of cow is impressive.
A new week meant a new area, as I headed down to Hermiston, Oregon to meet up with beef rep, salesman, breeder, and jack-of-all-trades, Clint Sexson. With the breeding barn in tow, we headed into the mountains outside of Baker City, Oregon and bred beef cows and heifers on two ranches, also stopping to check on Select Sire progeny from an Angus breeder in Bend, Oregon. Daughters of 7AN531 ENTICE sorted out as long bodied with great set to the leg, and 7AN443 BRONC cows were wide based, smooth bodied, with sweep of rib. Growing up on a dairy farm and being solely involved in that sector of agriculture, the ranching way of life and working with open range cattle is unique to me. My last two stops in Oregon involved seeing an In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) collection facility in action, and some of the Jersey breed’s elite genomic females in the donor pens at GT Heifer Ranch, and Columbia River Dairy with their 40,000 acre operation. CRD’s attention to genetic detail and value of profitable cows is fascinating, and I learned the value of data-driven genetic decisions on a dairy operation.
It was time to see dairying on a different scale and witness agriculture in California’s central valley first hand, so I headed down to the Turlock, California All West office. Working with Jersey specialist Brad Barham, I’ve visited Hilmar Cheese Company and some of the leading Jersey herds in the nation, at the forefront of the breed’s development. These dairies are maximizing profits through genetically testing heifers, sorting out top animals, and heavily using IVF to propagate superior genetics in their herds. I’m also learning how to utilize DairyComp305 specifically to gather data and run genetic audits when doing dairy recommendations with more SRS specialist team members.
My first month as part of the All West team has gone by quickly, and I have already learned much about the sales methods, products, services, and the drive to put the customer first in all interactions. I look forward to the rest of my time in California, spending a few days in Tillamook, Oregon and working more in the Western Washington area. It has been such a great experience to connect with dairy farmers, ranchers, and managers along the way, and I hope to meet many more of you soon to talk about the great things All West has to offer!