With high gas prices and little perceived genetic diversity is there really a need to have 5+ different semen salesmen coming in the lane? This has been a tricky question for many years. They all want a piece of your genetic dollar, but are they taking up too much of your time to just shoot the latest company line and share the local community gossip?
As technology has changed how most breeders get their information, there really is no need to get all the information from the “local” semen salesmen. In the past. in order to get the latest sire proofs or daughter pictures. You needed to get a shiny brochure with all the fancy pictures to determine what sire you would use. Today most breeders already know who the latest top sire is and have looked at daughter pictures online or in the trade publications. It has gotten to the point where you can even order your semen online and have it shipped to you.
Gas is not getting any cheaper, and trust me those nice fancy F-160’s or GMC Sierra’s don’t come cheap. Hence, the change for some AI companies to switch to Ford Rangers. Add up a $40,000 to $70,000 a year salesmen, plus truck, plus gas, plus insurance and that trip in the lane becomes very costly. Ultimately, this cost is paid by the breeders through increased semen costs. Do you really want to be paying extra so the local semen salesmen can drive a fancier truck?
In the past, each semen salesmen had a very distinctive product line. Semex had your type and “balanced cow” sires, ABS and Select had your production sires, and the International sires had your outcross pedigree’s with high components. However, that has all changed. Looking up and down each of the major A.I. companies sires line-ups shows little genetic diversity. They all try to offer something to everyone. This has blurred the line between the companies and only made the need for less of them to come in the lane.
Probably the biggest cost that most breeders don’t think about is how much time it takes to talk to each semen, seed, equipment, ag-products person that comes in the road. Now I understand that on the typical operation can be pretty lonely. Not too many other breeders are coming in the lane, and social interaction at times can be limited. Trust me I have been there. In my career, I have had the opportunity to cover a sales territory and I know how long this can take. I understand that these people coming in the lane can be a great break. However, you need to ask yourself which ones bring value and which ones waste time.
As the role of a semen salesmen has changed, they are now more breeding advisers than salesmen. The “good ones” understand when to spout the company line and when to say it like it is. It’s these ones that bring you value and earn your trust. The ones that keep pushing their newest or most expensive sire are just wasting your time. Maybe it’s time to start telling those time wasters,” Hey instead of coming every week/month, how about you just wait until I call you?”
The Bottom Line
There is no question that the semen sales game has changed and I am not just talking about genomics. Technology, gas prices, and limited time have breeders asking themselves “Are there too many semen salesmen coming in the lane?” The answer really comes down to whether you feel they bring value, or are they just making a social call. Your time is too valuable to be wasted on social calls. Next time it feels like your local semen salesmen is just wasting your time, throw him a real pitchfork and say, “Let’s both get some value out of this time!”
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