This past week I was asked to speak at a local county annual meeting about how breeders could “leverage the power of the internet to sell their genetics?” Great topic, but my problem was I could not lie to them.
As I walked in the room, I saw breeders that I had previous connections with. I had dated their daughters, been given my first cattle clipping assignments and had visited with them many times when I was first selling semen. Suddenly it came all rushing in on me how much the market has changed. Sure I could teach them how to set up a Facebook page and keep regular updates on their website. My problem is that focusing on those topics would not have done much for them.
Why you ask? You see the #1 rule of great marketing is to have a great product that people want. Everything turns on this. Am I saying that these breeders don’t have great cattle? Actually the exact opposite is true. In the group was the breeder of the #2 available LPI sire in Canada (FREUREHAVEN NIAGARA Read more – December 2012 World Wide Holstein Genetic Evaluation Highlights). The fact is, there is no demand for the product that these breeders have to offer. In the meeting, Ralph Freure commented “ In the past, when a bull like Niagara came out the breeder of such a bull would have their phone ringing off the hook for embryo orders and bull contracts. These days, other than the A.I. company that sampled him no one called.” Why is that?
Well, the answer is, it’s because, these days, unless you have a 2300 TPI or 3000 LPI cow or heifer, no one is interested. Take our analysis of the recent big sales (Read more – An Insider’s Guide To What Sells At The Big Dairy Cattle Auctions) you will notice that while polled gets some interest and selling a pick from a show cow that is currently winning at the big shows, anything else is just not in demand.
Gone are the days where you could breed a 5+ generation VG or EX cow and expect to get top dollar when selling her or her progeny. As I listened to the group discuss recent changes to the point system for the Canadian Master Breeder awards, I found myself thinking two things. First: the passion these people have for dairy cattle is outstanding and second do their breeding goals fit with their management goals? And that is what I talked about.
While we all want to breed that next great show cow (Read more – 7 Sires to Use in Order to Breed the Next World Dairy Expo Champion) and we all have a different definition of what that great cow would look like (Read more – The Perfect Holstein Cow) the big thing is will either of these goals pay the bills anymore? Or, is it more important to breed cows that are most profitable where it counts…..the milk check? (Read more – Fact vs. Fantasy: A Realistic Approach to Sire Selection)
During the discussion about the requirements for the Master Breeder Shield one of the comments was that a cow should be 15% above the national average in order to qualify for points. This more than anything demonstrated for me how disconnected we have become from what actually pays the bills. Are you telling me that production is not a key component in a great breeding program? Are we saying that having a narrow type focus is all that should be the measure of a great breeder? WOW!!! Dairy breeders are business people? They have bills to pay and kids to feed. The number one revenue source on the farm is the milk check not the livestock sales. And trust me that trouble free GP83 2yr old that milks 12,000 kgs (25,200 lbs) pays a lot more bills than the high maintenance VG-87-2yr old that milks 9,000 kgs (18,900 lbs).
The Bullvine Bottom Line
You can argue that genomics has killed the market for `good` pedigreed cattle and that IVF has flooded the marketplace. To some extent both are true. But I would add another aspect for you to consider. The recent financial stresses in the world have opened many breeders’ eyes to what pays the bills. Breeders are business people first and, as a result, their expenditures and even their breeding goals have changed. Have yours?