Attention Deficit Disorder (also known as ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are terms used to describe patterns of behavior that appear most often in school-aged children. Children with these disorders are inattentive, overly impulsive and, in the case of ADHD, hyperactive. They have difficulty sitting still or attending to one thing for a long period, and may seem overactive. When I talk to many breeders about their breeding strategies, I see many of these same characteristics. They have difficulty attending to one thing for a long period, are overactive in thinking about just what sires to use and often end up making impulsive decisions.
There is No Quick Fix
As a young child, I had many teachers wanting to tag me with those three magic letters, ADD, to explain my behavior. You see I was not engaged with my schoolwork. I would get bored and decided to be loud and disruptive. It was not until I found a teacher who recognized this behavior in me, and knew that they needed to engage me more that I began to realize my full potential. The same is true for your breeding program. Instead of looking for a quick fix or making an impulsive decision, in order to gain maximum results you need to have a clear plan, with achievable goals.
Over the years, there have certainly been some major trends in the dairy cattle breeding world. First, it was breeding for production, then for component/protein yield, followed by longevity. More recently, the trend has moved more towards health and fertility. Moreover, while all these traits are important factors in any breeding strategy, you need to understand that you cannot achieve your breeding goals overnight, and even with the introduction new technologies such as of genomics and IVF, it still takes years to achieve the results of your breeding decisions.
The Opportunity Cost of Your Breeding Strategy
Often, what sire to use comes down to, “What sire I have in the tank?”, or “Who is hot just now?” or “What sire could I buy the cheapest?” The problem is all of these factors end up costing you much more money than you could ever realize. You see what sire you have in the tank or who is cheapest may look like economical decisions, but that is just looking at it from the cash out of hand today and does not consider the long-term opportunity cost. The impulsive decision you make today will affect your herd for generations to come. That is why there is no such thing as semen that is too expensive. (Read more: Semen Prices Are Never Too High).
The time and effort it takes to develop a sound breeding strategy may be the most effective use of time you will ever make in your herd. You see you can never take back a breeding decision. So every day that you are operating without a solid breeding strategy that compliments your management style, you are costing yourself money. (Read more: Let’s Talk Mating Strategies and gAa® – Genetic Animal Analysis – Dairy Cattle Breeding Made Simple)
A World of Constant Change
Just like how video games took children’s focus challenges to completely new levels, genomics has caused breeders heads to spin. It does seem like monthly there are new sires to use. Yes, official lists are only available 3 times a year, but the second an A.I. unit has a new hot sire, they are quick to let the world know. Either through official channels or through the unofficial network that is the semen salesmen. The challenge is that you can barely get the semen in the tank before there is a new hot sire that everyone tells you that you should be using instead of the one you just purchased. Sure, this is great for driving up semen sales, but what is it doing to your breeding strategy, and your pocket book? (Read more: Are There Too Many Semen Salesmen Coming in the Lane? )
The Bullvine Bottom Line
Instead of worrying about always following the latest fad, or using the hottest new sire, you need to have a sound breeding strategy that you can stick with over a prolonged period. That does not mean that you cannot adjust the strategy as you go along. You need to remember that, even with new technology, realizing the results of breeding decisions takes years. Stop daydreaming about what the future may hold and start focusing on what you can do today.