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Pride and Prejudice: The Downfall of the “Pedigree Breeder”

Not to sound like a Jane Austin novel, but the pride and prejudice of purebred dairy breeder’s are leading to their own downfall.  It’s human nature for people to have pride but when that pride leads to prejudice against others that leads to trouble.  Unfortunately, pride and prejudice are preventing many purebred dairy breeders from facing the truth in the current dairy genetics industry.

Recently I wrote an article, Dairy Breeders vs. Genetic Corporations: Who are the True Master Breeders? explaining how it is only good business sense that is leading to less and less genetic sales for many dairy breeders.  Their future is not looking bright as larger genetic corporations are investing heavily in the very top 0.1% genomic animals and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).  Their significantly greater capital is giving these genetic corporations a distinct advantage over the average breeder.  As expected, this article got diverse reactions.  They covered the  full range from those in A.I. organizations and on the industry side  that quickly acknowledge that this is happening  to those “traditional” breeders who   bury their heads in the sand and deny that it could ever happen.

It is that latter head-burying reaction that has led us to today’s situation.  You see it’s exactly because breeders have so much pride in what they do that they are not able to accept the truth.  This has led to a severe bias for the capabilities of the great breeders from the past and prejudice against the new age geneticists who arm themselves with numbers, genomic tests and formulas.  The resisters site situations from the past where breeder’s outperformed the A.I. companies with sires as Goldwyn, etc. that would have never been selected by A.I. geneticists.  However, as we have said many times before here on the Bullvine, you can always find the odd case to prove your point but you have to look at the big picture across the whole industry to see what the true trends are.  When you do that, the picture painted by the current situation, with the introduction of genomics and significant corporate dollars does not look so rosy for the breeders.

Now don’t get me wrong, pride is not a bad thing.  There is such a thing as possessing positive pride, meaning to have self-respect, confidence, honor, and integrity.  On the other hand, negative pride is defined as showing arrogant or disdainful conduct and haughtiness.  Unfortunately, I have been seeing that pride from many pedigree breeders.  They arrogantly think that the industry will survive because they are better than or smarter than someone else is.  That arrogance has led us to this situation, where top end cattle prices went from record numbers just a year ago to a place now where many high-end genomic index heifers are not selling for much more than commercial cattle.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

We are all guilty of being quick to judge something.  However, when we let that quick judgment affect our lives in a negative way, and are too proud to admit and change our prejudice, we are leading to our own downfall.  Such was the case with many dairy breeders who were too quick to write off genomics as a fad or declared that it was not going to work.  Yes, it is not a perfect science.  It is a tool that, when used correctly, can greatly accelerate the genetic advancement in your herd.  By letting prejudicial judgments and misunderstandings affect breeding programs, breeders have allowed the large A.I. companies and genetic corporations to get so far ahead that it is almost impossible to catch them or to prevent the inevitable.  While many purebred breeders have sought the wealth and esteem that comes with producing the next great sire, the tragedy of it is that their pride and prejudice could completely derail such a happy ending.  Pride and prejudice makes an enduringly successful novel because readers never lose hope that good sense will prevail in the end.  Let’s hope that in 200 years, the purebred dairy industry will look back on commercial success that survived its own too quick rush to judgment.



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  1. Will the next round of breeding be producing an F1 or hybrid female that has top yield, great components, good health and longevity? What would a commercial dairy pay for a replacement heifer that had these traits? Are such female already available if we look (Hol x Swedish Red; Hol x Jersey; Hol x Nor; ?). I have seen how pig breeding changed and even beef cattle breeding over the last 6 decades. Is dairy breeding actually lagging behind?

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