Whenever a new sire tops the list, or a cow wins a big show, everyone sees the prefix on that animal. However, just because you bred that animal does, that make you the true breeder? More and more you are seeing top animals that have just one generation bred by the breeder. Does that make them the true breeder of that animal?
With the amount of top cattle that are being bought and sold, you are seeing more and more pedigrees that have different prefixes in each generation. While at one time we used to see five, six, or more generations all with the same prefix, now it’s not unusual to see six different prefixes in six different generations.
While I am all for the trade of dairy cattle because it’s what makes the genetics market go around, should the last breeder on the pedigree get all the credit for breeding that animal? As we all know you cannot make a great show cow or top index animal in just one generation. It takes generation after generation with a clear goal in mind and a smart breeding strategy to breed the next great one. Yet, when we look to give awards, assign master breeder points, etc. we give all the credit to whoever’s name is on the prefix.
While it’s not a slam-dunk to buy a cow and breed the next great one, buying into a well thought out, established cow family can certainly accelerate the process. We see it more and more as many top herds look to diversify and add new bloodlines into their operations in order to provide the genetics that their particular market demands. Does that make them a master breeder or a smart businessperson?
In some cases these top herds have had to buy into new cow families because their main cow families are not ranking at the top any more. This begs the question whether they are really master breeders or a master buyer? I know it’s a tough question and I would say, of the main top herds today, many of them have generation after generation of their own breeding.
The same debate is true for show cattle. Look at the cows that are winning at Madison and the Royal. How many of them are bred and owned? A large majority of the time, the original breeder sold that animal years ago, and it could be on its fourth or fifth ownership group now.
While breeding a top show cow or high genomic animal takes a lot of work, I wonder if we give enough credit to the generation after generation it took of smart breeding to achieve that end result. Are we too quick to simply look at the current prefix on the animal and let the breeding recognition stop there? Today’s buzz words are “repeatability” and “sustainability” so I ask, “What is the mark of a truly great cattle breeder?”