Advanced genetic technology is not confined to the crop production arena, as evidenced by the pens, new housing barns, office building and labs at Nebraska Bull Service, four miles north of McCook.
NBS, owned by Brian and Donnetta Schafer of Culbertson, is a state-of-the-art livestock genetics company with multiple services. Custom semen collection is its primary service, with NBS having the capability of holding 120 bulls on-site. Some bulls remain for several years, and others are brought in for just one collection. “At our custom semen collection center, we bring in the bulls, collect semen, and process and store it in straws in our liquid nitrogen tanks,” says Brian.
Semen is returned to clients for their use or marketing, but NBS also offers the option of locating buyers for its customers’ bull semen and shipping it via UPS throughout the United States or around the world.
At a glance
• Nebraska Bull Service is a livestock genetics company.
• The operation’s primary service is custom semen collection.
• The Schafers also offer an embryo transfer service.
Seedstock producers account for 80% of the semen collection business, and the remaining 20% includes commercial cattle, rodeo stock and wildlife such as Big Horn sheep. NBS has more than 400 local, state and foreign customers.
Brian says bulls range from those worth $3,000 to $4,000 to bulls valued at $200,000. “They are primarily Angus, but we take in all breeds.”
The couple met at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan., when Brian was an animal science major, and Donnetta was earning a degree in accounting. “We never imagined this is what we would be doing,” Donnetta says, “although we did expect to be involved in agriculture of some type.”
NBS has existed for 50 years.It was begun by Vince Herrick in Wellfleet in the early 1960s, and then sold in the 1980s to his brother and sister-in-law, Ted and Lula May Herrick. The Schafers bought it in 2000 and moved to their present site in 2001.
The company, which has 11 employees, including an on-staff veterinarian, also has a sexed semen service. Semen is shipped to Sexing Technologies, a lab in Fullerton, which sorts it to produce either male or female offspring — with 90% accuracy — and sends it back.
“This is our first year with sexing semen,” Brian says. “It’s pretty new technology for our customers.”
Additionally, the Schafers have an embryo transfer service in which they flush embryos from a customer’s cows and transfer them to their own recipient herd. They got into embryo transfer by buying Frontier Genetics International, which had been located in Curtis. “This is a growing part of our business,” Brian says.
Another new offering is invitro fertilization, a service that extracts unfertilized eggs from cows, fertilizes them in a petri dish and incubates them until they get into an embryonic stage.
A full-time veterinarian has been hired for these latter two services and to manage bull health and testing at the facility.
NBS also has begun an artificial insemination service for customers’ cattle.
ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Brian and Donnetta Schafer have expanded Nebraska Bull Service since they moved their business to McCook 10 years ago.
This article published in the July, 2011 edition of NEBRASKA FARMER.
All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.