The debate is back! While Artificial Insemination companies have owned females for many years, with recent dominance by some AI breeding programs on the TOP GTPI list in the US and the upcoming ability for breeders to sample their own bulls, the debate is at the forefront again!
Over the years there have actually been many examples, with mixed results when A.I. companies have owned their own female bloodlines.
The biggest reason this issue is coming up again is because genomics is changing the prominence of industry sires with no daughter proof data, and virgin heifers are now in heavy demand as for contract matings. Genomics has deceased the risk to such a level that it can be very economically viable for these A.I. companies to invest in top bloodlines and increase their genetic advancement rate faster than their competition. By being able to control the matings on these top females and use top (often unproven ) genomic sires on these virgin heifers they will be able to greatly increase their rate of advancement over their competition, and in fact fast than even top breeders. That is because they will have access to their own top genomics young sires sooner. They can use them on contract matings far faster than any breeder can. This gives them a distinct competitive advantage over both other A.I. companies and over breeders.
A.I. companies owning females seems to be a very touchy issue for many breeders. While many of these companies are perfectly within their rights legally, it comes down to a question of public perception. Many companies, such as Semex, have taken a very vocal position that they do not own females. Given that Semex is a member owned co-operative, it’s understandable that they do not want to be in competition with their breeders, many of whom are the top suppliers of sires to many A.I. companies worldwide. However, Select Sires is also a federation of nine farmer-owned-and-controlled cooperatives. You could not have two more extremely opposite positions from two very similarly owned companies.
Genomics has changed the breeding world. However, it has also created a wild wild west environment where both breeders and A.I. companies are figuring out what the new world will look like. Will A.I. companies be nothing more than service companies that deliver genetics from many sources (much like a Wal-Mart) where they are more based on quality of service and customer experience than the genetics they have to offer? Will more and more top breeders try to increase their own profits and sample their own sires? (Watch www.thebullvine.com for articles on these issues coming shortly) The important thing to note is that some A.I. companies have taken early steps to control the source and supply top genetic animals to their customers. The world is changing and so will the inter-relationship between breeders and A.I. companies, in many cases they are no longer just a customer they are now a competitor.
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