Farm Talk

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November 14, 2012

Age isn’t the measure of success at Utopia

Parsons, Kansas — To many, the perception of a successful operation comes with age and years of experience. However, the all under 30 owned and operated Utopia Genetics is quickly blowing that stereotype out of the water.

Utopia Genetics was an idea that originated between friends Kevin and Jamie Johansen, and Ian Glassman, with the purpose of building a recipient herd for raising embryo transfers calves for the purebred breeder.

“In spring 2011 we bought the main place and started with a few cows,” Jamie Johansen said.

That first spring, along with Dr. Bob Zinnikas, of 4 Corners Embryo Transfers, out of Langley, Okla., they were able to flush and implant 100 cows.

According to Utopia Genetics, the embryo transfer program is a four-day shot program used on donor cows.

“Cows are then bred on days five and six, three times,” Kevin Johansen said. “One week after breeding, Dr. Bob does the flushing and embryos are either implanted fresh, or frozen.”

Jamie explained they follow a 12-day synchronization program.

“We want to be able to breed them all in one day, so for feasibility they all calve about the same time,” Jamie said. “All ET babies are born within a 10-14 day window.”

“Right before they would come into heat, cows are covered by a herd bull. This gives the cows a second opportunity to breed if it didn’t take the first time. We then know all calves born 18-21 days after ET calves are bull bred,” Jamie continued.

Fast forward a year and half later, Utopia Genetics has taken off.

“This year we are up to 1,000 head of recip commercial cows, and 3,000 acres of owned/rented land,” Kevin said.

With the quick growth of Utopia Genetics, the operation has expanded past a three person team.

“The first year it was just the three of us, now Ian is getting married, so Kassi Bauman has joined us,” Jamie said. “And then we hired Trent Manning as our full time cowman, Raychel Glassman as office manager, and Derek Ridder, as the show and sale cattle manager.”

“Our customers have grown from word-of-mouth, so we haven’t had to advertise,” Jamie added.

Utopia Genetics calves in both spring and fall, and then embryo transfer customers buy back calves upon weaning.

According to Kevin, customer’s ET calves are determined by ear tag colors.

“Each customer is assigned a certain color,” he said. “We then tag the cow carrying their embryo with their assigned color and information. After the calf is born, it is tagged with the same color. This prevents any confusion.”

Utopia Genetics offers a range of breeds including Angus, Charolais, Hereford, Gelbvieh, Sim-Angus, Simmental, Balancers, Club Calves and Composites.

Recently, Utopia was able to expand their operation in another direction and now offers custom show and sale cattle.

“We all grew up in the purebred world, showing cattle. This summer we were able to get our show barn up and going.” Jamie explained.

The show cattle program at Utopia offers customers a service that breaks their calves to lead, as well as fitting, clipping, and even exhibiting them at livestock shows.

“We already have customers,” Kevin added.

“Utopia Genetics has grown faster than we ever thought it would,” Jamie said.

They credit much of their success and knowledge to their purebred backgrounds, support of their families, and the strengths each member of this operation brings to the table.

“We knew from the beginning we wanted a life on the farm,” Jamie said. “We were all raised on family farms and it instilled values to be hard workers and care about livestock.”

“We wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of our friends and family. It’s a lot of hard work and long hours, but we’re in it for the long haul,” she concluded.

To learn more about Utopia Genetics visit them at www.utopiagenetics.com.£

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