Hitting a Grand Slam with SUNY Cobleskill

Hitting a Grand Slam with SUNY Cobleskill

SUNY Cobleskill’s dairy program, in partnership with Premier Select Sires and Select Sires Inc., produced a bull calf that was genomically tested and ranked number three on the global Jersey Performance Index™ (JPI™) list. The calf initially had a JPI of +181, ranking him within the top ten globally. His JPI then increased to +197, earning him his number three spot.

“This really was a win-win-win for the school, Premier Select Sires, and Select Sires Inc.,” said Jim Wood, Premier Area Sales Manager serving SUNY Cobleskill. “We knew there was potential to create some great calves because they were coming out of some high-end animals, but to rank this high was a great surprise for everyone involved, and the kids think it is the neatest thing.”

Wood has been working with SUNY Cobleskill’s dairy program for many years, but until recently, the program only focused on Holstein cattle. Thomas Poltynski, Director of Farm Entrepreneurial Operations at SUNY Cobleskill, said that the organization now has plans to install two robotic milking units, and have a robot for each a 50-head Holstein herd and a 50-head Jersey herd.

“Our goal is to transition to the robots in the next few years,” said Poltynski. “When we decided to create a Jersey herd, we did not want to buy Jerseys due to biosecurity risks. Jim Wood mentioned embryos as an option to get better genetics without the biosecurity concerns.”

Wood began working with Herby Lutz, Dairy Sire Analyst for Select Sires Inc., to allow SUNY Cobleskill to purchase embryos from Select Sires’ Jersey Aggressive Reproductive Technologies™ (JART™) program. The school began with female sexed embryos, but experienced lower than desired pregnancy rates in the herd.

“Prior to this effort we had done limited work with embryos in our Holstein herd,” said Poltynski. “We decided to switch to using conventional embryos, and to our surprise and excitement, this bull came out of the first batch!”

7JE2236 Cobleskill S-S-I Bestball 753-ET was born January 18, 2023. The calf’s sire and maternal grand sire are both exciting Jersey sires from the Select Sires lineup: 7JE2007 JX BESTBALL {5} and 7JE1758 JX THRASHER {6}, respectively. Select Sires purchased the bull calf from SUNY Cobleskill and brought it to the Select Sires Calf Campus in April.

“It’s really cool when things like this work out, and it excites a lot of young people and an institution that is establishing a Jersey herd in their dairy program,” said Lutz. “We look forward to putting in more Jersey embryos at SUNY Cobleskill to help them grow their new Jersey herd, to go along with their Holstein herd that is a great Select Sires herd.”

Select Sires asked the students of SUNY Cobleskill’s dairy program to name the bull calf. The students pooled a list of three names and presented them to SUNY Cobleskill’s president, Dr. Marian Terenzio, to make the final decision. The official name of the calf will be 7JE2236 JX Cobleskill S-S-I Best GRANDSLAM {6} -ET.

“I’m going to steal some words from Jim and Herby…we hit a home run with this calf,” said Poltynski. “It was our first time with conventional Jersey embryos. To get a bull with those numbers is impressive.”

Poltynski said that some of the program’s first Jersey embryo females are now pregnant to Select Sires bulls, including two that are due in July that were bred to 14JE2069 JX DIVE {6} and 614JE2114 URI. He and the students look forward to the barn renovations over the next three years so they can continue improving the herd’s genetics and implementing the robotic milking system. Poltynski said he looks forward to continuing the college’s relationship with Premier Select Sires and Select Sires Inc.

“Premier and Select Sires have been great partners for us at SUNY Cobleskill,” said Poltynski. “Jim has always been willing to serve as a guest speaker for our dairy classes or the Dairy Cattle Club, and Premier teaches artificial insemination courses on campus. We’ve also had several students serve as interns at Premier. We look forward to working with Premier moving forward.”

SUNY Cobleskill is very near and dear to Wood’s heart, as he graduated from the college in 1982 and has worked with the SUNY Cobleskill dairy program for many years since.

“This school and program have done a lot for my job and my family,” said Wood. “When things like this bull calf happen, it makes you wonder why you’d ever want to retire. It really makes things fun and exciting,” said Wood.


™Jersey Performance Index and JPI are trademarks of the American Jersey Cattle Association. Jersey Aggressive Reproductive Technologies and JART are trademarks of Select Sires Inc.