Trent-Way Genetics: Smart RC Strategy Leads to Rapid and Powerful Results

No wonder this red factor cow is popular all over. Besides scoring VG-87-2yr and displaying 3009 gTPI, she is also an outstanding producer! Trent-Way Essay-RC is a Parfect daughter out of a VG-87 Altuve, followed by an EX-90 Resolve, VG-88 Racer and a VG-88 Mogul out of Morningview Super Roxy EX-90.

In a nicely hidden valley, about 60 km southwest of Madison in the American state of Wisconsin, we find the relatively new breeding enterprise Trent-Way, owned by Trent and Kelsey Hendrickson. But: certainly not hidden are Trent-Way’s breeding achievements. Thanks to an expert breeding program, the red & white genetics at Trent-Way are being spread around the world with ever increasing speed. And prepare yourself for much more, as is evident from all the breeding dynamics that we currently find at Trent-Way: A prominent and inspiring source of Red Holstein genetics.

Jan Bierma Han Hopman

Certainly you have heard of Jeffrey-Way, the breeding operation in Wisconsin with a remarkably high percentage of EX cows, as well as the T family, which for numerous generations already has provided valuable Holsteins. This is where Trent Hendrickson (as a son of Jeff and Kate Hendrickson) grew up and gained valuable experience in elite breeding. In 2011, Trent and his wife Kelsey decided to start on their own, at Blanchardville, a half hour west of Jeffrey-Way in Belleville. And what happened next is nearly unbelievable. The rate at which Trent-Way is garnering national and international recognition is astounding. Precisely the solid training back home turns out to be the springboard for a finely tuned breeding strategy, which in a relatively short amount of time led to top results on the Red Holstein front. Already within six years, the powerful RC transmitter Trent-Way-Js Ronald-RC appeared – today good for more than 6,600 daughters in twelve different countries, the sire of Aprilday McDonald-P-Red, and the maternal grandsire of the Nr.1 Red Holstein sire in Germany, Redford. After that, notable results followed one another in quick succession. Today we find both the Nr.1 gTPI milking red factor cow (Essay-RC, 130,000 lb/59,000 kg 4.9% 3.5% in four lactations.


Time now for the earlier mentioned Trent-Way Essay-RC, the current star in the herd and in demand everywhere. As a two-year-old, this Parfect daughter is already good for VG-87 and a projected first lactation of 305d 2x 35,555 lb/16,161 kg 4.69% 3.40%; 7,000 lb/3,182 kg above the herd average! Thanks to her gTPI of 3009, Essay is also popular as a bull dam. Four sons went to AI, and another two will leave soon. The oldest of them is Trent-Way Exclusive-Red (<Network-Red; owned by Select Sires), good for 2933 gTPI, +2.11 gPTAT, and an entirely faultless linear profile. He is a bull that Trent is very enthusiastic about: ‘I think we already have almost 100 pregnancies by him on the way.’ That enthusiasm is no surprise, for those who see Trent with his Essay. The young Holstein breeder is extremely delighted with this Parfect daughter, originating from a VG-87 Altuve daughter from the Roxy family. Precisely that family background is of essential importance to Trent: ‘I truly believe in cow families. You know where I come from, the T family back home breeds so strong and solid. For this reason, cow families are so foundational to me. When I use bulls, I certainly want to know which cow family they come from, and how the dam and grandam performed. No matter how high the figures are on paper, we only want to work with pedigrees that we believe will be able to deliver a truly outstanding cow.’

With this approach, Trent went to work at the time – and immediately focussed on Red Holsteins. ‘That is 100% of our focus. Certainly, that is challenging, because the gene pool is much more limited than with black and white. Nevertheless, you see that a lot of people prefer Red Holsteins. But… hardly anyone wants RC animals, while it is precisely the RC animals that are essential for breeding the best Red Holsteins.’


Right: RC animals are indispensable to Red Holstein breeding and that is also why Trent is happy with a bull like Salvatore-RC. ‘Salvatore is the best bull to appear on the scene in Red Holstein breeding in the last ten years. We find his name in nearly every outstanding red family that displays production power,’ says Trent, who also immediately draws attention to the other side of the coin: ‘Very quickly you need to guard for animals with too much Salvatore blood. We see that already with Ranger-Red. Now that we have used him so much, you need to pay attention with his sons.’

Now back to the popular donor cow Essay-RC, who is now pregnant, but still active for IVF every two weeks. Trent uses primarily conventional semen with her and is counting on about 60 pregnancies. But: Essay is not the only outstanding Parfect daughter in the herd. ‘The Parfects are performing superbly here. Two other Parfect daughters that we are using for breeding are Trent-Way Resbit-RC and Reassure-RC. Both will be classified in the near future, and from them we have Hayk sons who will leave for Select Sires.’


How does Trent select his sires? ‘First I look closely at the pedigree and the maternal line, which must be reliable. After that, I consider somatic cell, milk (+1500/2000 lb), a linear profile that is quite oriented to the right, a longer teat length (especially important for Red Holsteins) and good longevity (PL). I place less weight on DPR (daughter fertility). Often you see less milk then, and you need to sacrifice a lot to reach a high DPR. As such, a slightly negative DPR is already good enough for me. I also pay attention to kappa casein BB, which I find more important than A2A2. For Red Holsteins, BB is hard to find.’ In terms of conformation, Trent aims for about +2.00/2.50 PTAT. ‘I am disappointed with bulls that have very high PTAT figures. Often they have too much stature, as the formula does not work correctly in this case. You really don’t need +4.00 PTAT, more than +2.00 is good enough,’ states Trent firmly.


In December 2011, Trent and Kelsey started with 46 cows and 20 head of young stock at their new location. Today they have 367 cows with an average of 28,483 lb/12,947 kg (with 2x milking) and 450 head of young stock (extra in connection with lots of ET work). In the herd, 95% are born from ET. Annually they sell about 150 milking cows to other dairy farmers and about 100 herd bulls to other farms. In 2022, seventeen bulls left for AI, and in 2023 there were twenty. In the meantime, Ronald-RC and Rompen-Red are appreciated progeny proven sires. Right: Trent-Way has truly made a flying start. How does Trent explain this start? ‘To be honest, ten years ago we did not dare to dream of where we are today. I think that our focus on balanced breeding and strong, honest cow families has been of tremendous importance. And we were fortunate to have good sires at precisely the right time, such as Parfect.’

And we will freely add two additional aspects: knowledge and passion. The splendid strength of Trent-Way, from which the true impact is nowhere close to being seen yet.

Trent-Way Genetics, USA

Trent and Kelsey Hendrickson with their children Trevor, Grace and Lee. (The youngest, Jeffrey, is not in the picture.)

Located near Blanchardville, southwest of Madison, Wisconsin Owned by Trent & Kelsey Hendrickson 367 milking and dry cows, 450 head of young stock, 100 young bulls 250 acres/100 ha pasture, 700 acres/280 ha corn and alfalfa TMR of corn silage, alfalfa haylage, dry corn, and protein concentrates Production: 2x 28,483lb/12,947kg 3.97% 3.32% 68 EX cows, BAA 109.5 Current sires: Exclusive-Red, Reward-Red, Rompen-Red, Fireball-Red, Peyto-RC, Punch-RC, Redlea-RC, Tentastic, Pace, Phoenix, Pazzle

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