As I listen to breeder-to-breeder discussions and read the information that is produced and shared, I am asking myself “Have we lost our breeder minds?” Most of the details or information shared is about what non-breeders think. Organizations, media and governments have different agendas and goals than breeders have. The Bullvine feels strongly that breeders need to make their voices heard in defining the genetic systems and services that are absolutely necessary for future success.
The Gravy is Gone
Where once breeders could sell animals for good prices, the premiums are gone and there are minimal, if any, margins for selling average breeding stock (Read more: Who Killed The Market For Good Dairy Cattle? and An Insider’s Guide to What Sells at the Big Dairy Cattle Auctions 2013). Where once breeding a top proven sire would mean a nice royalty check, that farm development or retirement money is no longer there. And, furthermore, buyers who once bought replacement animals from breeders have moved to using sexed semen and cross breeding and they now have their own reproductively efficient replacements.
Adjusting to Reality takes A C T I O N
Breeders are seeing a much different industry today than even just five years ago but they have not adjusted their business plans accordingly. Getting to the future in this era requires something other than following the past. Sexed semen, sexed embryos and cows with a hundred plus daughters are here. Genomic information has moved the focus to young animals (Read more: Genomics – Opportunity is Knocking, Genomics at Work – August 2013 and The End of the Daughter Proven Sire Era). Breeding decisions must be extended to include many more profit determining traits. And that only gets us to 2014. What will the industry look like in 2020 and beyond? In today’s terms that is only three to four generations of females away.
The Future – Bright & Sunny or a Tornado?
The Bullvine hears both scenarios. Some breeders have accepted that genomics is a very useful tool for their niche and plans. They see light at the end of the tunnel for themselves. Other breeders are asking questions – “Why have purebreds? Why test? Why record? Why participate? Why more traits? …Why, Why, Why?” For them they are in a tornado. Some of those breeders have already cashed in and moved on in their careers. For those that remain in the breeding industry where are they being given support, representation or help?
We can learn from the Past
Breed societies were formed about a century ago to provide service to breeders in authentication and representation. Breeders set aside their individual ideas or priorities for the collective good. They elected peers to represent them on boards that set policies, established recording systems and set the breed direction necessary to get us to where we are today. That took work. We need that kind of work today. It isn’t just holding down a seat at a board table. It means representation. It means vision. It means proactive leadership.
Does the collective good concept still hold today? Cooperative A.I. organizations, formed 75 years ago by breeders, are in some cases being run as primarily as large corporations. Is the breeder voice being voiced? Being lost? Being heard?
Time for Breeders to Speak Up
So what has happened to our minds and our voices? Have they gone into hibernation or gone silent? Are we only huddling with likeminded breeders? Are we stuck in deep muddy ruts? Do we give good input to our elected officials?
Breeder organizations need to be looking to the future. Meetings seem to be the same old crowd talking about what’s wrong with the future. Breed promotion is, often, tied to the past not the future. It’s all about tradition in a time when we are in revolution. Meetings are boring and ignored by innovative breeders. Discerning breeders take the time, when they have it, to provide input to boards, researchers and politicians. They often catch up or link up during a break time in their busy days.
If breeders do not work collectively and take action to position breeds then the move to bigger corporations setting the rules will win the day. This has happened in poultry and swine.
You can be Heard 24-7
Not everyone has time for meetings. Holding office is time consuming. Dairy breeding is 24-7. There are ways to communicate 24-7. Several ways in fact. Social media is ready to carry your message whenever you are ready to give it. Some breeders may say that they prefer hard copy or face-to-face communications. But today that is passé.
The Bullvine Bottom Line
It is time for breeders to spend time, energy and resources to develop positions and make their wishes known. That will not happen by complaining to each other. It is time to stop leaving the action to others. Our future is in our own hands and key pads. The time for sitting back and watching is long past. Are you speaking up for the future of breeds and tomorrow’s breeders?