Yesterday was Father’s Day and our focus was on what our fathers do for us. For fathers no longer with us, yesterday would have been all about the memories. For some fathers, perhaps, it was about how successful they have been as fathers.
Future Bovine Fathers
Dairy cattle breeders know all about the importance of great fathers when it comes to creating the next generation. The breeders of future generations of dairy cattle will have the opportunity to feed the world high-quality protein and fat. For this article let’s focus on the protein that consumers will be needing in the milk products they purchase. Let’s also consider the possible ways that consumer needs will impact the selection of the bovine fathers that breeders use to produce future generations of cows.
Recently there has been considerable positive media coverage on cheese.
Elizabeth Crawford on June 15, 2015, article entitled “Cheese could be the next health food, industry expert suggests”. Author Crawford’s summary from her research concludes that “The tide may be changing for cheese, as science helps re-position the dairy food as a protein-dense, calcium- rich, healthy snack rather than as a high-fat and high–sodium food to be enjoyed in moderation”. Now, isn’t that a breath of fresh air for the dairy cattle industry!
It Could Very Well Go Beyond Cheese
Also, hot off the press on Friday was the announcement of the Dairy Innovation Forum to be held Wednesday July 29, 2015. It will be a free-to-attend online 60-minute forum. An expert panel of milk product innovators and marketers will address the following:
- How difficult is it to launch a new dairy brand?
- What are the hottest new trends in dairy?
- What’s natural? And does it matter?
- What keeps you awake at night?
Although many breeders may question the importance to them of such a forum, it will provide food for thought for leading edge breeders or geneticists at breeding companies who are considering what will follow a2 Milk (Read more: 12 Things You Need To Know About A2 Milk) and Greek yogurt. Both of these products focus on the protein in cows’ milk.
In the next five years, there will be other new products that are built on the presence of unique proteins in bovine milk. It is not a “what if situation”. It is only a matter of time until milk with certain protein combinations will be given a premium farm gate price. That means big bucks when it comes to farm profit.
The Impact on Bovine Fathers
With the protein in milk garnering much attention, the genetic merit of service sires currently being used is essential. Well, not just important, the sires need to excel.
The Bullvine recommends that breeders interested in having hard-working, long-lived, trouble free cows make the primary selection criteria for their service sires – protein yield (Protein), length of life (Productive Life) and total merit (NM$). (Read more: Mating Recommendations)
Differences do exist between breeds for what the genetic merit of active sires are. For Holsteins, the top sires have 60+ lbs Protein, 5+ Productive life and 750+ NM$. For Jerseys, they are 45+ lbs Protein, 5+ PL and 200+ NM$. Some breeders may wish to include in their selection criteria DPR, SCS, inbreeding level (Read more: The Truth About Inbreeding) and polled (Read more: Polled Genetics: The Cold Hard Facts). However, that will limit the progress that their herd will make for protein, herd life and total merit. Sires are now rated for beta casein and kappa casein, in demand by some cheese producers. It could very well be that other proteins will be identified as necessary in the future to make other specialty milk products.
The current top five active Holstein protein sires that do not have negative ratings for DPR or SCS are:
- Jedi (7HO13250) 79 P, 6.0 PL and 859 NM$
- Supershot (224HO02881) 70 P, 7.5 PL and 853 NM$
- Supersire (7HO11351) 68 P, 6.5 PL and 834 NM$
- AltaStratify (11HO11462) 68 P, 6.6 PL and 777 NM$
- Superman (200HO07846) 67 P, 5.4 PL and 783 NM$.
How Do Your Current Service Sire Stack Up?
There is no time like the present for breeders to compare the sires they are presently using. If those sires do not favourably compare, the best decision could well be to dump the semen from the lowest half and replace them with top protein sires. The $25 to $50 lost per dose of semen dumped may be small in comparison to the money lost in the milking daughters four and more years down the road.
The Bullvine Bottom Line
If the milk that you plan to sell in the future needs to be protein rich, then the sires used today need to be top of the line. Compromising in sire selection is like not doing the best we can for our children. Fathers, in the house or in the barn, need to do their best.