From when to plant, fertilize or harvest our crops to what sire to use, breeders are always looking for reliable assistance. For most dairy farmers, there are two things they love to complain about. One is the weather and the other is bull proofs. No one ever says that predicting the future is easy. Sure we put more credibility into Al Roker’s weather forecast than we do the one given by the young blonde, who seems to be there more for eye candy than for knowledge set. But the question remains, “How accurate is either weather forecast?” At the Bullvine we decided to look at how the genetic evaluations system compares to the predictions of meteorologists.
In many ways Dairy Cattle Genetics and Meteorology are very similar. Both use complex mathematical models to predict the future. The formulas and complexity of these models make most people’s heads spin. But after all the numbers and formulas are calculated, who does the better job?
To compare these two prognosticators we looked at the accuracy of the average 3 day weather forecast from the National Weather Service last year and compared them to initial genomic proofs of young sires and then to a bull’s first daughter proofs. What we found was that the average 3-day weather forecast is accurate, within e degrees, 71.19% of the time. For genomic young sires, we know that the average sire with a 50K test compared to a proven sire is about 72% reliable. So the average young sire’s proof is as accurate as a 3-day weather forecast. Sure things can change quickly but more than 70% of the time you can rely on the information to be accurate and 95% of the time you can expect a genomic tested young sire to perform at least within 20% of their expected values. (Read more: The Truth About Genomic Indexes – “show me” that they work!)
When comparing a next day forecast to that of a 1st crop proven sire, we find the advantage for accuracy goes to the geneticists. The next day weather forecasts for the national weather service’s jump up to 87.24% accurate to within 3 degrees, and 1st crop proven sires with a genomic test are 90% accurate. To put things into perspective. A non-genomic tested young sire’s proof is as about as accurate as a 7 day weather forecast. Both are well below 50% accuracy and are more or less only good enough to forecast a general trend.
The Bullvine Bottom Line
Sure there are those who prefer not to use genomic young sires, when it comes to their breeding programs. However I would hazard a guess that they are also using the Farmers’ Almanac, instead of the weather forecasts, to predict when to plant their corn or harvest their hay. (Read more: Dairy Breeders vs. Genetic Corporations: Who are the True Master Breeders?) For those breeders that are willing to let a little science help them to make their job easier, genomic proofs have considerably improved the accuracy. Today’s average genomic young sire is about as accurate a prediction of performance as a 3-day weather forecast. Accurate enough to make informed decisions, but not able to guarantee that a freak storm won’t come in and change things.