40 YEARS OF KI SAMEN ‘PROVEN PRACTICAL BREEDING’
The last thing the established order in herd improvement wanted in the 1980s was men bursting with new plans and the ambition to succeed. But it was precisely their close links with dairy farmers at the front line of milk production and the practical view of breeding dairy cows that gave farmers better opportunities and greater choices. These men were the driving force behind the foundation of KI SAMEN. Today it is the largest, privately owned AI station in Europe with its own AI facility and dairy farm.
It is an industry-leading, family owned business with its own breeding vision based on using proven bulls and examining the practical performance on the farm of the cow family behind the bull. Following the death of Bas Engelen Sr. – one of the founders of K.I. SAMEN – his children Nancy, Ralph and Bas Engelen Jr. have continued running the company.
Leading in breeding. How?
Ralph Engelen: “We often get asked how K.I. SAMEN has managed to evolve into an industry-leading AI station in a world that consists of large cattle breeding organisations that are often cooperatives.” Ralph explains: “We have a very clear breeding vision which differs from that of the other organisations. We breed the practical cows of tomorrow; well-built cows that complement a balanced herd that functions perfectly in practice. We strive for long-lasting cows with high lifetime production; a herd that generates profits for the farmer and are a pleasure to work with. I can say that I really enjoy milking our cows.”
We offer certainty and reliability
KI SAMEN puts the bulls through their paces in practice. Ralph Engelen: “With this solid, core philosophy, we achieve proven results based on the practical performance of a sire’s daughters before he becomes a proven bull. Together with the farmers, we provide the certainty and reliability that their herd will show higher production and be more fun to work with.”
Ralph continues: “To come up with practical mating advice we take the individual cow as our starting point. Which traits need to be introduced or enhanced to improve the next generation. A wide variety of pedigrees creates enough choice for new bloodlines. And with a diverse range of bulls (aAa codes), there is always a suitable bull to ensure a balanced herd. A wide choice of breeds gives space for flexible and profitable herd management.”
The trend in practice
We continue to welcome various new customers whose breeding strategy has lost its way because of an over-emphasis on figures. These customers are looking to rediscover self-sufficiency; to regain control over the process of adding more balance to the herd. Ralph: “And that’s where our breeding technicians can help, by focusing on the cow and then drawing up an action plan together with the farmer.”
Proven top performing bulls
Proof that KI SAMEN really does improve the next generation is provided by the list of proven bulls. Ralph: “I will mention just a few proven bulls who really had immense significance for our AI station. Triosex, Galm and Echo – the names it all started with. Shogun, Lightning, Maik, Big Malki and Jorryn have proven their merit in the present generation of cows producing 100,000 litres of milk. And Slash is currently well on his way to joining this ‘Hall of Fame’”.
Being a family business is our strength
Following the death of Bas Engelen Sr., three of his children – Nancy, Ralph and Bas Jr. – took over the running of the company. Ralph: “Pride is the primary emotion, seven generations of our family have been dairy farmers on the same land. But we also want to uphold and perpetuate our father’s philosophy; we understand and experience exactly the same issues and challenges faced by other farmers.
Looking at breeding from a practical perspective is part of our DNA. And we have the advantage of knowing how to translate that into the breeding strategy at the AI station. We form a united family front, one company and one goal: to breed the practical cows of tomorrow!”
Activities 40th anniversary
Bas Engelen Jr.: “A number of activities will be organised to celebrate our 40th anniversary. The highlight will be the ‘Grasdagen’ on 22-23 June, 2023, which all farmers are welcome to attend. As well as demonstrating the machines, K.I. SAMEN will also organise bull displays and give guided tours of the AI station and dairy farm.” Nancy Engelen adds: “K.I. SAMEN is a family business and that’s a value we want to convey. We will be inviting the families of our employees to enjoy a fun family day.”
The three successors are very proud of the introduction of the ‘Bas Engelen Award’. This honour will be awarded every two years to a farmer who has contributed to improving dairy farming in the broadest sense of the word, whether in breeding but also in the public domain. The first award ceremony will take place in November 2022, 40 years after the company’s founding date.
What will the future bring for K.I. SAMEN?
Ralph laughs: “I’d rather say what will K.I. SAMEN bring the future! Our approach to breeding gives farmers a choice in an increasingly narrower world; variation in bloodlines and variation in breeds. So that together we can progress towards creating the most durable cows in a balanced herd.”