Cottage Farm Genetics opened its doors in April 1990 as one of the few full service reproduction centers in the Southeast. At the time, they could house 15-18 bulls comfortably. Through the years, they have expanded – today, they can continuously house 38 bulls – and now, plans are in the works for another expansion that would allow Cottage Farms to house 50-55 bull at peak capacity.
Wesley Klipfel, manager of the facility, credits this growth to a very important goal at Cottage Farm Genetics…customer satisfaction.
“We are in the customer business,” he says, “our number one priority is to make our customers happy.”
Along those lines, Klipfel, a Colorado native and graduate of Colorado State University with a background in reproductive physiology, says that the comfort and safety of their customers' bulls comes first, and that played an important part in the development of the facility.
“I designed and built the facility,” Klipfel remembers, “and when we were in the planning stages, the biggest concern was always the safety and comfort of the bulls.”
Cottage Farm Genetics is owned by the Stonecipher family, Lowell, Mary Ann, Rick and Scott, who also own one of the most respected Beefmaster herds in the country, Cottage Farm Beefmasters. Through the years, the Stoneciphers have also produced some of the most popular bulls in the Beefmaster breed. Due to the popularity of their bulls, the high demand for semen, and the continuing need for a quality semen collection and bull housing facility in the Southeast, the Stoneciphers decided to open their own reproduction facility.
“The Stoneciphers have always been leaders in the industry,” Klipfel says. “They saw a need here in the South for this kind of facility and wanted to give cattle producers the services they needed without having to drive all the way to Texas. That's how we got started here.”
Almost nine years later, Cottage Farm Genetics stands as one of the premier full service reproduction centers in the Southeast. Services include: complete custom semen collection; comfortable, modern and safe housing for bulls being collected; semen storage and distribution; artificial insemination; embryo transfer; breeding soundness evaluations (BSE); hoof trimming, cosmetic surgical dehorning and other maintenance procedures.
A new service offered by Cottage Farm Genetics is live cattle ultrasound. Klipfel says there has been a heavy demand for this on- farm service. Producers use ultrasound to scan large groups of yearling bulls so they can determine carcass merit and predict carcass EPDs.
“We have several customers utilizing this service on large groups of yearling bulls that they are getting ready to sell,” Klipfel explains. “We can predict the bulls' carcass merit and determine how well cattle with their genetic base would do in the feedlot, without having to slaughter the animals.”
Klipfel estimates he spends about 25 percent of his time doing on-farm work for customers. Besides the ultrasound work, Klipfel also does semen collection and breeding soundness evaluations on the farm. Cottage Farm has also set up two satellite stations, one in South Alabama and one near Jackson, Miss., where customers can meet Klipfel to have their bulls collected.
“This has worked really well,” Klipfel says. “We have several customers who would have to travel 8-10 hours to get to our facility in Tennessee. With the satellites, we can provide them will services for their bulls, and they only have to drive 2-4 hours.”
For the past few years, Cottage Farm Genetics has partnered with the University of Tennessee at Martin to offer A.I. schools in April and October. According to Klipfel, these schools have become very popular, and are just another part of the customer service program that they put such heavy emphasis on at Cottage Farm.
If Klipfel is not on the road collecting bulls, he is at the Cottage Farm state of the art facility, working on semen collection or quality control.
Gina Gaines, who has been at Cottage Farm Genetics for seven years, is the lab manager, and is in charge of all of the semen processing and evaluation after collection and before freezing. Klipfel then evaluates all of the semen post-freeze himself, and sets a high quality standard to, once again, insure customer satisfaction.
“I'm proud of the fact that we can say that we have had an extremely low incidence of problems with semen through the years,” he says. “As a matter of fact, the whole time we've been doing this, we have only had 10 or 12 calls about semen quality.”
It is the high standard of service and quality that have helped Cottage Farm Genetics' customer base grow each year. Klipfel estimates that over 60 percent of their business is from referrals from happy customers.
“We have very loyal clients,” Klipfel says, “and we try to do everything they expect to maintain loyalty.
“That is the bottom line for us…if our customers want something done, we find a way to do it!”