I get it! Change freaks some people out. Even though “Change” is a broad term it affects our lives in many specific ways. Our brains expect certain things to stay the same. The old saying might be right, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!” But we are not talking about dogs, we are talking about the dairy industry and things are changing – rapidly! As Winston Churchill said “To improve is to change. To be perfect is to change often.” In order to excel in the dairy industry, you cannot be afraid of change, but rather must embrace change.
The dairy breeding industry is going through the most tumultuous time in its history. Between genomics and IVF the industry has been turned on its head, flipped over and slapped on its butt. As if that wasn’t enough, all of these changes have started a chain reaction of even more changes. However, as Niebuhr once said “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Many breeders would rather fight than switch. . They are unwilling to accept the fact that even if they refuse to change, the industry around them has changed and is moving on.
Genomics is a game changer
Now I am not saying you have to run out and use all the hottest genomic sires, and start IVF’ing all your top cattle. What I am saying is that you need to take the time to look at what is going on around you and plan how that is going to affect your dairy breeding program. This all starts by knowing your goals. If your goal is to have a Master Breeder herd, or make money selling young stock then yes you best start to embrace these changes.
I know there are many that would tell me that becoming a Master Breeder herd has nothing to do with the use of genomics. However, I would beg to differ. You see many are still confused about exactly what genomics is. Genomics is the technology that allows you to accurately predict what a sire’s (or heifer’s) breeding ability will be (Read more: How much can you trust Genomic Young Sires? and The Truth About Genomics Indexes – Show me they work! ). IT IS NOT AN INDEX. It is a TOOL and that is the message that I wish more would understand. You can use genomics to breed a great show cow. It’s not just for top index animals (Read more: Does Genomics Belong in The Show Ring?). I think if more people took the time to understand this single difference, they would start to use genomics effectively. You can use it to do type mattings all the time, and in fact, it can be very good at helping you do it.
IVF is a game breaker
The technology that I really think is changing the game for those who are looking to make money selling genetics is IVF (Read more: IVF: Boom or Bust for the Dairy Industry). IVF has given breeders the ability to cross their top animals to a greater number of sires and produce many more progeny. The problem this causes is that now there is an abundance of supply in the marketplace. With greater supply at the top end and not having an equally greater demand, the prices for all sectors in the marketplace are forced downward. In the past, when embryo exporters were looking to fill orders, they were held to a threshold of +2500 LPI or +1,900 TPI. Now since there is so much more supply at the top end, their threshold has risen to +3,200 LPI or +2,500 TPI. Have a look at our recent analysis of the public auction of live cattle. You will see that the very top cattle draw the high prices and then the prices drop significantly. (Read more: Who Killed the Market for Good Dairy Cattle?) This produces mixed emotions for me. The breeder in me that sees the potential to get so many more progeny from different sires from my top animals. But then there is the business man in me that sees that due to the massive influx of animals from the top few animals, there is less market for the rest. Recently I have also become concerned that it is making breeders lazy. They don’t work as hard to decide what sires to cross cows on since the only people who are really making money at this are the companies selling the service, as opposed to the breeders that are using the service.
The Bullvine Bottom Line
The key lesson here is that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Instead of being afraid of genomics and fearing the change it’s making, take the time to see how it can actually help you achieve your personal breeding goals. I am definitely not saying change your breeding goals. I am saying that you should consider how this new tool can actually help you achieve them. If you don’t like something, change it. If you cannot change it, change your attitude.
Not sure what all this hype about genomics is all about?
Want to learn what it is and what it means to your breeding program?