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The Mark of a True Breeder

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.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

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?”

For more information check out The Bullvine Bull Book or our Genetic Evaluation Resource Center.


  1. That’s why a cow like Tamara was so rare, the ONLY… US bred & owned EX(97) pt cow. They were offered over a $100,000 or more in CASH for here several times.Their answer was alwys the same… she is part of our family. How many breeders would do othe same…very few.

    • Tamara’s mom has a different prefix and was 83 pts and then 80 pts so I think it is safe to say she was a fluke. Jacobs seems to be a farm that is developing few good families (like Spirit Valsie and others) or Crovalley seems to be consistently bring out good animals breed generation after generation by them.

  2. Luck-E, Willows Edge and Stone Front consistantly put out top placing, deep pedigreed, show winning cattle with their prefix for multiple generations.

  3. Everyone can judge however they want as to who deserves credit for breeding a great animal.  As the breeder of last years World dairy Expo Jr Champion Pappys Goldwyn Rave it was a great experience watching her develop into the Expo Jr Champion.  Raves dam carrys the famous Markwell prefix and maybe us at Pappys Farm deserve no credit for this accomplishment.  The point Id like to make is we invested in a great cow family made a good mateing on the cow developed Rave from a new born calf to a Winter yrlg won a national show with her and sold her to West coast holsteins.  If Im not mistaken that is most people goal with registered holsteins.  Rather they deserve the credit or not.

                                                                          Ted Papageorge
                                                                          Pappys Farms   

  4. I call buying into cow families opportunistic breeding and and smart business as one can always promote what they bought by slapping their prefix on the next generation. I’ve heard others call this regurgitated genetics. I will agree that this method isn’t true breeding.

    True breeding occurs where one can develop and maintain a decent family from the ground up whether it is showing, genetics, or just darn good milk cows.

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