It seems like everybody is claiming to have the number one sire of this that or the other thing.  The number of different sires out there claiming to be number one is scary.  There is the #1 TPI sire, or #1 TPI sire with semen available, or the #1 proven TPI sire.  The list goes on and on.  The challenge for breeders is in trying to decide who you can believe.

Everything is New and Light

Remember when the word “New” or “Light” was trendy in the promotion of consumer products?  It seemed like every company was coming out with a “New” product or a “Light” version of the double chocolate peanut butter marshmallow cookies.  There were no laws to stop them from making their claims originality and fewer calories.  Because it helped drive awareness and sales, everyone jumped on the bandwagon.  That was back in the 70`s and 80’s before there was the development of marketing ethics that helped change all that and protect consumers from  those  false or misleading marketing practices.  The problem is that this process hasn`t yet happened in the dairy genetics marketplace.

You can’t be blamed for what you don’t know for sure.  Can you?

Don’t get me wrong. I understand why a breeder gets all excited when he gets back a  genomic test  on his sire and finds out that the bull  has an astronomical TPI, LPI, or NM$.  Instantly the claim is broadcast that the bull is Number 1.  Well there are many issues with this.  First, how do you know that someone else out there did not get a higher test result on the very same day, since the full lists are only published every three months?  Also how do you know that when your results do come out on the official list that they will hold?  Many times I have seen these sires drop due to regression formulas or very recent snippet developments etcetera.  With less than 159 points (7%) seperating the top 100 gTPI sires. the differences are very minimal. Is it ethical to push the limits and make claims now and beg “forgiveness” later or not at all?  After all you can’t be blamed for what you don’t know for sure.  Can you?

Can there be three top dogs?

But then here is the bigger issue for me that happens when A. I. companies start making these claims.  And this is the one that I have seen playing out more and more often recently.  Over the past week, since the last genetic evaluation release, I have seen three different press releases come out from major A.I. companies. Each one of them claimed to have the #1 TPI sire in the world.  Doesn’t being number one mean that there are no others?  How can there be three #1 TPI sires? No one should make performance claims unless they can back them up. It’s like our competitors to have a larger readership and influence. Consistently share our numbers through Google and Facebook analytics.  But the others like to use words and “third party tools”.  If you can’t back it up with real numbers don’t say it.

Why is there a lack of accountability in the Dairy Genetics Marketplace?

This all comes back to the issue that there isn’t an enforced code of marketing ethics in the dairy genetics marketplace.  This is not a new issue.  For years we here at the Bullvine have been advocating the development of a Marketing Code of Conduct that would cover these very issues as well as other issues such as photo ethics.  (Read more: Introducing the Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct and Who’s to Blame? Why is there a lack of accountability in the Dairy Genetics Marketplace, No Cow Is Perfect – Not Even in PicturesDairy Cattle Photography – Over Exposed, Has Photo Enhancement Gone Too Far? and Dairy Cattle Photography: Do You Really Think I am That Stupid?)

Do we breed dairy cows or ostriches?

The problem is that, to date, none of the major A.I. organizations are willing to put their butts on the line to be the first.  They respond like those photographers who are so worried about losing business that they just go on doing their current practices.  This has led to distrust and producers are tuning out marketing claims and are not even bothering to look at professional daughter pictures anymore.

Lack of Leadership

As our efforts over the past year with professional livestock photographers prove, they have no desire to regulate themselves, even if it’s in their own best interest to do so in order to save their industry.  The same is true for A.I. organizations. They seem unwilling to develop and adhere to a marketing code of conduct that would bring credibility back to their marketing claims.  Then, looking at the powers that be, such as NAAB or CDCB, or CDN in Canada, they also seem to prefer to bury their heads in the sand, instead of addressing the issues at hand.  This leaves the average breeder defenseless against false or misleading claims.  The practice of inflating claims or exaggerating appearance in advertising is threatening to cloud the credibility of the entire dairy industry.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Your reputation is your organization’s greatest asset.  (Read more: In the End, All you have is your Name!)  The longer organizations such as the A.I. centers go without establishing a clear level of marketing ethics, the more they are damaging their own credibility.  You don’t have to look any further than the professional dairy cattle photography industry to see how looking the other way or ignoring the issues can harm an industry.  The time is now for the leaders in the dairy cattle genetics industry to step up and take the Bull by the horns and be the leaders that this industry needs.  In leadership who is the real #1?

To get a copy of the Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct please click here.

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