Thursday, April 29, 2021

How to optimize your gains from genetic selection


CONCEPTIONS            Dairy route newsletter                       June-July 2020


The late Paul Harvey would say to this, “now for the REST of the story.”     All you hear in print and from semen salesmen is “genetic value [which implies high rank on a trait index].    This is the visible half of the story, because the money it has generated purebred breeders and AI bull studs has driven the industry’s selection focus for decades.

When you breed each cow, you want to see improvement from matings in future replacements.    Just staying “the same” means less future income to meet inflation in our future expenses.   The biggest reason for herd expansion in each generation is the need to increase income per farm if the net profit per cow in real spending power has not increased.    

The genetic evaluations and especially the Genomic data is NOT a calculation of what changed from one generation to the next (“intergenerational change”) but is a history of how the known progeny set compared to same generation “contemporaries” (same age herdmates) which they call “intragenerational deviation”.    Back in the 1960s, geneticists could not figure out how to compare daughters to dams in an era when herd averages were rising from newer equipment and better feeding, so they quit trying.   Since then the main factor added has been pedigree (“parent average”) which has compounded over generations to where “sire stack” now drives the Genomic bus (at 40% of the published values).

What is the true influence of “pedigree” on animal performance?

Last I checked, a pedigree starts with a sire and a dam (the bull you use on the cow you have).    ALL genes contributing to the resulting calf come only from those two mates.     Extending that pedigree out to grandparents, great-grandparents, et al may be more intellectual exercise than biologically determinant, but within Genomics, the extended “sire stack” is all weighted in to the calculated result.     The individual differences of the cow side of that ancestry are ignored.   Yet they have contributed 50% of the total genes passing down to your new heifers.    A strong maternal line (either in cows or bulls) can definitely change the result from the predictions of a sire stack, and we work with that variation in our herds every day – until we go to breed them.

Is there any usable system for managing “intergenerational change” in our favor?

I KNOW you get tired of me talking about the benefits of the “aAa” Breeding Guide, but this is exactly what the system does for you – (1) identifies the qualities your cows possess that will influence 50% of each mating you make; (2) identifies the qualities of bulls who will match up to her in a complementary way, so that (3) you harvest genetic potential that is only a prediction of average historical results in the data which genetic evaluation present you.

Simply put, “aAa” fills a void that genetic indexes were not designed to do – predict results from any individual mating.    This is why scientists call it “population genetics” and focus on progeny from bulls, rather than cows  ( “A cow doesn’t produce enough data for statistical accuracy”… )

What is the chief gain of using “aAa” breeding guide alongside sire selection concepts?

Genomics and genetic evaluation give “values” that depend on cows achieving “normal” length Productive Life.    The majority of GPTA- PL values are imputed from theoretical models because the bulls being marketed are not old enough to have tested progeny (or if they have any, their lives are still in progress, not completed for accurate measurement).     So again, historical data, pedigree sires, and a lot of other biased assumptions go into those calculations that may not fit your herd or the cow environment you have developed.

Users of “aAa” claim many benefits, but one of the most commonly mentioned is “aAa cows just last longer” [have less physical injury, less trouble calving, breed back well, stay healthy].     Zoetis has put out a lot of recent data to show that cows who remain functional at maturity produce 30% more milk than first-calf heifers – that is a benefit greater than even the highest GPTA Milk rated sires can produce.      You can benefit financially from a more mature herd.     

Looking at one of the first herds I ever analyzed, who still uses aAa, started with 80 cows at a 16,000 pound 3.2% bf herd average (ECM 14,000 pounds) 25 years ago.    Today there are 350 cows at a 25,000 pound 4.0% bf herd average [ECM 28,000 pounds] and a 13.5 month calving interval.    They had a cow reach 234,000 pounds lifetime from a first-generation aAa mating!     In 25 years they only ever bought 12 heifers and 1 cow when flirting with going registered … so this performance gain and expansion has all come from homebred natural increase.  

What proof can you offer that any of what you say here is true?

Toward the end of his life, Mr Weeks (founder of “aAa”) obtained data from Holstein USA to see how his concepts affected the results of dominant population genetics theories.    Looking at every Holstein heifer registered born in 1980 (nearly 250,000) they found 70% of these had production records that could be compared to their dams also on test.    On the average, these Holsteins of 1980 represented 41% “aAa use” (ie, how compatible on “aAa” was the sire vs the maternal grandsire?).     Sire selection preferences in the herds only using indexes were clearly the reason for only a 40% “match” (the industry loves breeding “likes to likes” which is where inbreeding depression starts).      

1980 cows that represented an 80% aAa match averaged 2500 pounds MORE than Momma did per lactation.  ( An 80% “percent use” average on aAa is the goal we use in herds that analyze. )

1980 cows that represented a 20% match averaged 4000 pounds LESS than Momma did in her lactations.     Most such cows had much fewer reported lactations than those at 80% match, and who her sire was (ie, how famous, how highly ranked) was no help to changing this data.

This simply demonstrates that making a complementary mating is as essential as using bulls who have genetic value according to your expected economic opportunities and production management system in place.     The “mating” side of the equation brings forward the prior adaptability of your cows to your environment.   The “genetic selection” side requires you to find bulls with the traits that can prepare for the financial value of your production.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

To cut or not to cut … is that the question?


CONCEPTIONS            Dairy route newsletter                       June-July 2020

First cutting hay is well in progress as we “speak”: you may already be done when you read this.   Weather change has made it hard to live up to Grandpa’s rule “first cutting needs to be done by Memorial Day” (ie, the end of May).     Grandpa’s reason for this was his preference for alfalfa + orchardgrass mixed hay.    The push for clear alfalfa seedings changed our rules to “once 10% of alfalfa plants show buds, it”s time to cut”, a time more affected by spring temperatures.

Now that those seeking optimum balance between nutritional quality, tonnage and seeding life have returned to mixed hay/ haylage plantings (18# alfalfa, 2# red clover, 10# grass) we get that same question again.    This seems complicated by the seeming differences between varieties of alfalfa as to how intensely you can manage cuttings (there are 28 day varieties and 35 day also).

The overriding rule, however, is to cut according to the stage of the grass.     The perennial type of grasses are all “cold season” (ie, grow best spring and fall, go dormant in summer heat) so as to maintain living root systems in the winter.     Once grasses have headed out (“gone to seed”) any regrowth in that season is inhibited.    You lose the window to optimize their feed value and you lose tonnage over the full harvest season.   

Will it hurt alfalfa to be cut pre-bud?     As this primarily occurs in first cutting, NO – you still will have enough moisture in the late spring soil (and cooler evenings) for it to recover.    In the heat of the summer, with the grass going dormant, you see more alfalfa and less grass and cutting by the alfalfa maturity is just fine.    Entering the fall, where you have now set yourself up for one more cutting (than you would have had delaying for the alfalfa in the spring), you will again see the grass came back and the thatch you leave at the end of the season provides the same cover benefits to next year as you get when planting cover crops after fall harvesting row crops.

Interseeding into thinner or winter kill spots in alfalfa stands

There are many options. Keep in mind, if you only want a crop this year, sudangrass (BMR-6) or sorghum-sudan (BMR-6) hybrid cross offer the best feed value, except seed supply is short.    A second option is Hybrid Millet (Prime 360) and seed supply is in better shape this season.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Is this problem “management” or “genetics” ?


CONCEPTIONS  Beef cow-calf newsletter                         May-June 2020

While we are generally familiar with lethal gene recessives (eg, the THC and PHAC conditions that float through Shorthorn and Maine-Anjou sires) we are less aware of how to tell when we are dealing with some other genetic weakness.    First, in the case of lethal recessives, calves are either aborted early, are born deformed, or stillborn—and you can see the deformity.     When this happens, you know the sire you used AND your cow you bred are both “carriers”, which warns you on any future breedings to avoid use of carrier bulls on carrier cows.    In the case of sales opportunity for breeding stock, it may even be prudent to consider use “terminal cross” matings on such cows, producing only steers or slaughter heifers.

However, there are lots of other issues where the line is harder to see between a “management” issue you can fix, or a “genetic “ issue that requires compensatory mating to prevent.    How do you tell?     Except with really small herds, the secret is to ask these questions:

“Do all or the majority of cows express this problem?”    If you say YES then you face a management problem; if you say NO then you are seeing a genetic issue.

Management of cow fertility

The quality of fertility in your herd has three focuses:   (1)   genetics—did I select breeding stock from easy breeding cow lines and masculine sire lines?    (2)   herd health—did cows clean quickly and thoroughly after calving, is my vaccination up to date to reduce respiratory interference in the next conception?   (3)   nutrition—do my cows show healthy body condition and strong heats at the time to rebreed?

The latest observer to note the inefficiency of much popular breeding today when it comes to reproduction is Johann Zeitsman (author of “Man, Cattle and Veld”).   In his observation of range cattle in both the Americas and Africa, the test of cow and bull fertility has been rebreeding when on grass, without the “bandaid” of the feedlot grain supplementation.    Even if you do feed grain to promote fast growth on your market and show cattle, it can hide slow fertility character in the momma cows.    Maintaining body condition from high digestibility forages is an indicator of the higher natural fertility cow and seems to give optimal reproduction.

Managing pastures for fertility

“Permanent” (perennial plant varieties) pastures have always been a cost-control input for efficient cow-calf feeding.    The concept developed from England and its culture of developing smaller frame, moderate size breeds on lush pastures, such cattle could breed, calve, nurse a calf to weaning and rebreed without grain.   In the Americas, when the scientists took over, they went to Europe seeking larger frame breeds to get heavier weaning and fed-cattle weights, assuming that it was cost-effective to drylot house and creep feed such cattle for the added gain.    On a “net profit” basis, measuring cattle weight sold per acre utilized, it is hard to see a clear advantage to large frame cattle (except when feed sells at a discount to the cost of raising and harvesting it).    Good, dense grass paddocks feed well.

Whether breeding smaller or larger frame cattle, however, a basis on digestible forages rotated so they can be harvested in their optimal vegetative state helps us maintain competitive growth rates at lower costs, often crossing small-frame cows with good milk to large-frame bulls with good post-weaning rates of gain.    The resulting phenotype from such crosses is often attractive to both club calf and feedlot buyers, representing “hybrid vigor” in the differences between genotypes of cows bred vs bulls used (it is not necessary to crossbreed to get hybrid vigor).

The insemination process

When you only do this once a year, it is easy to be a little rusty at the beginning.   Keep in mind you have these objectives:  (1)  Put daily effort into accurate heat detection, so as to inseminate at the optimal time;  (2)  Thaw and prepare the semen in the correct way, minimizing temperature drops after the gun is loaded;   (3)   Get the breeding gun inside the cow within fifteen minutes after extracting it from your storage tank;   (4)    Pass the AI gun through the cervix just into the uterus, no further, and release the semen (the sperm cells will find their way). 

If you need a copy of the full description, such as I use for breeding training, just call and we will send it.     Here is a drawing of what goes on inside the cow:


The rest of it is up to the cow (and the weather)

Cows can lose embryos any time their body temperatures go too high, so keep the need for water and shade in mind where recently bred cows are eating,

We  are  now  in  the  season    when the cows need to be breeding


A few ideas enclosed to stimulate your thinking and observation as you begin your AI season.     At this point we are still getting shipments from CATTLE VISION every two weeks, so if you need semen to complete your season, call (989) 834- 2661 or tell Gene when you see him on the route recharging your tank.


Mich Livestock Service, Inc         ph (989) 834 2661          For the Best in Bulls”

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Does the AI industry approach sire selection logically? (A comparison of two bulls)


The advent of Genomic selection brought into view the two opposing approaches to selecting sires, both for new AI bulls and for how dairymen address mating their herds.    Genomic sire selection is based totally on how bulls rank on the “in vogue” selection index.     Over half of all dairymen, however, still base sire selection on a matrix (screening list) of desired traits.

Perceived competitive pressures have all major AI studs sorting their bulls (old and new) on the rankings for GTPI [Total Performance Index, Holstein USA] or GLNM$ [lifetime net merit value, AIPL-USDA].    This often makes it harder for those dairymen who have trait focuses to find their best sire choices.     Useful sires get removed from promotion lists because some newer bull has a higher Index “rank” from Genomic estimation, but may be “better” than their replacements.

Comparing two “outlier” sires from International Protein Sires

The current high PTA Milk bull (ranking GTPI bull) at IPS is 566H1261 Jo Dandy.   Still available (although not featured) from IPS is 566H1185 Barnstormer, who is among the highest of IPS bulls once Zoetis’ “Wellness Traits” are considered.   As you follow down the following columns comparing these two, which would you use?

Thursday, April 15, 2021



CONCEPTIONS   Dairy Route newsletter                           Winter 2019-20

Sonny Perdue (and most of those with whom he is talking currently) just have it all wrong.     Consumers do not care how BIG your dairy herd is: consumers only care how GOOD your milk is.    The era of government price and acreage controls that drove all agriculture in a “pooled” commodity direction is all but over, and the recent Dean Foods bankruptcy announcement is only one symptom of what will emerge as the big picture.

Of course you want economy of scale in your operation, where you can create it, but you also want to be a “least cost” producer (the way to stay healthy in any commodity production system)- while you also want to be a “premium product” producer (which means, look to the future, not the past, in production goals).

Consumers are rejecting our lowest nutrient density dairy products in favor of those that offer more of what health-conscious Americans are seeking.   Your genetic selection and mating program can aid in generating you premiums.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Selection for “Longevity” leads to greater profitability

 CONCEPTIONS   Dairy Route newsletter                           Winter 2019-20


We have now had “Productive Life” (GPTA-PL) genetic values on both Progeny Evaluated and Genomic imputed sires for three decades, which were to guide us into more profitable, lower turnover rate herds for the 21st century.    We are now 20 years into that new century, and the genetic base for “Productive Life” has barely gained three months from 1990.    The average US cow still only produces milk for a bit over two lactations, barely exceeding the length of time we rear them.

What are we losing from short cow herdlife?    Mostly, we lose the extra 30% gain of production from first lactation yield to mature age lactations, observed (says Zoetis in the studies for their “Wellness” health traits) in those cows who do calve a third, fourth, fifth time.    To put this into perspective, 70 pound heifers should become 100 pound cows when they mature (five years of age).    

Why are we not achieving the extra 1.5 lactations promised by the theory supporting “PTA-PL”?   Because at the same time, we have “accelerated” the genetic potential for faster maturity of production (calve earlier, milk harder) – and alongside of that, biology gave us “faster aging”.    Cows still continue to grow and develop after their first calving, but their physical quality has less “constitution” to stay healthy and functional into maturity.

Productive Life has basically screened out the sires who sired the shortest herdlifes—usually a generation after they have been widely used through AI—but has not identified sires who will have an impact on lengthening functional life.    In effect, the range of “plus” PL that exists in those sires who rank the highest on ranking indexes (even though PL is included in calculations for Net Merit and other indexes) is not significant at its estimated 15% heritability as a “trait”.

Heterosis vigor, Compensatory mating effects, Genetic selection effects

Calculations for “expected future inbreeding” began around the same time as “productive life”.   Until Genomic selection superceded pedigree and phenotye selection for AI contract matings, human intervention kept efi% below the supposed “danger” level of 8.5% inbreeding.    As we progress into our fifth generation of Genomic selected sires, utilizing full sibling females as ET donors for the elite ranked males, this control is gone.    As a result, individual herds are now experiencing “inbreeding depression” basically as a glass ceiling on new heifer production.

“Heterosis (Hybrid) Vigor” is observed when animals of differing genotypes are cross-mated to generate a production generation of milking females.    You accomplish this either by outcross mating within your breed, or crossbreeding with a different breed.     What is observed within Genomic selection is, the opportunity to find outcross mates at the elite level has disappeared.  Virtually all Genomic matings for future sires and donors are well above the 8.5% ibc level. 

Genomic selection and avoiding inbreeding at this point are basically incompatible goals.   The process of mating “by numbers” to accelerate the index values requires “likes to likes” matings

(page two- continued)

The landmark Dutch study of Holstein sires used on Dutch Friesian cows published in 1997 is still definitive in explaining inbreeding depression a result, not of pedigree ancestors shared in common, but of “single trait” selection over a multiple (three or more) generations.    Whether a single trait (in their case, PTA Pounds Protein) or an unchanged composite index (TPI, NM$, JPI, LPI, BW), the underlying genotype that produces the single response loses many desired genes that counterbalance the “marker” genes on which we focus, after each generation.   The desired “heterosis” effect within pour matings just disappears.

 As for compensatory (phenotype characteristic) mating, its contribution to avoiding inbreeding effects has been proven by generating as much production gain intergenerationally as has been documented through sire summaries intragenerationally.    The largest study of the “aAa” effect (across 240,000 Holstein cows born in a single year) showed that “likes to likes” mating caused an average of 5,000 pounds loss per lactation (thus a shorter herdlife) for these cows compared to their dams—and irregardless of their sires’ PTA Milk values.   

So what is the solution?

First—if not already doing so, have your cows “aAa” analyzed to identify the physical genotype for each of your cows.     Grouping those results into patterns of needs in common, you will end up with six to eight “types” of sires needed to provide effective “compensatory mating”- which will provide the heterosis response needed for physical vigor and environmental adaptability.

Second—establish your “trait matrix” of the Genetic “traits” you wish to increase in your herd, based on current “real time” analysis of your herd records for production and reproduction, and the current economic trends in the milk market (for example, favor bulls +bf% and +pr%).  

Third—for each of the six to eight “aAa” groups, find bulls to fit that possess the trait values you established for genetic selection, and use them accordingly.

Fourth— evaluate each generation for progress on your genetic goals.     I do not mean average GTPI or GNM$ values, as Genomic testing would do (and which will act to cull your best mature cows from your breeding herd) but ACTUAL REALIZED production and fertility.     Save future replacements from the cows who are really doing it for you—sell all others as surplus to your needs, thereby reducing your cost of replacement rearing.

As your cow herd matures (in age and productivity) you will find that fewer replacements are needed.   You will have an ACTUAL gain in “Productive Life” in your herd, as the scientists had predicted when they dreamed up the measurements.    They only erred (and continue to err) in only accepting one “IDEAL” genotype as necessary to sustained progress.    You will need to find “outcross” genotypes for those “aAa” groups that do not match the one “ideal” phenotype that Genomics is producing—but this will maintain your herd heterosis vigor well into the future.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Is the straight beef breed still superior to the dairy beef influx?


CONCEPTIONS  Beef Cow-calf route newsletter            March-April 2020


Of course it is.     Perhaps some of the less popular continental breeds have genetic lines that are too similar to Holstein growth rates and frame sizes to be much different, but the modern Holstein’s dairy selection is so specialized that the ability of Holsteins to gain muscle efficiently from the typical beef cow-calf feeding sequence does not exist.

In fact, if you have not been to a deacon calf sale in the past two-three years, you would know that the market value of the Holstein deacon bull calf has fallen by over half.    Any calf in the deacon pens that looks like it has Beef breed inheritance will bring twice the price of Holsteins.   The calf buyers know from their experience, that those “beefy” genes in that calf will aid them in efficient feeding and an earlier age of marbling to market grade.     Holstein steers from the modern, Genomic-selected “dairy type” breeding may have to be fed for 24-30 months to get the same marketing value from the quality of beef represented.

Of course, at that age, they will weigh more “live weight” (even if they cut out a lower percent edible).   The Wisconsin packing industry is notorious for seeking extra-heavy carcasses such as a two-year-old Holstein steer usually represents.    Good for them, if someone is willing to take a steer through two winters of stored feed – but this is exactly what the growing environmental movement (fixated on “global warming”) sees as wrong with our cattle industry, beef or dairy.

Taste rules in the freezer beef and “grass fed” marketing systems… Not carcass size.   Many of our dairy customers who used to offer freezer beef by the half have quit, because no one has a freezer big enough to handle a Holstein side of beef.    No one wants to store beef in a freezer longer than six months (a year at most) and no one wants to trim another 10% off prior to the frying or broiling or grilling (unless they have a kennel full of hungry dogs??)   

It is expectations for taste and superior grilling properties that keep the buyers paying that 10% to 20% premium for the Beef breed steer over the Holstein steer.     As for dairy-beef crosses, the one that wins all the “blind taste tests” and has a superior feed conversion as well, is Jersey x Beef breed.     Here you can get natural finishing of the carcass by 18 months of age and also be just the right size to sell into the freezer beef market.

Are you operating a feedlot?    If you have extra room, you have probably considered or tried out some of these Holstein x Beef cross deacons already.     We would be greatly interested to learn what your experiences are with them.   

The telling evidence, however, is that when anyone quits dairy and converts to beef, they also convert to Beef Breed momma cow stock.    So what does that tell us?     The advantages are so many—higher natural fertility, better maternal instinct, easier body conditioning while nursing a calf, better forage utilization.    These are  genetic selection qualities  that should already be a part of your breeding program for replacement females.     Holsteins are quite lacking today by comparison, in these genetic characteristics.    

Mich Livestock Service, Inc  **  Ovid, MI 48866  **  ph (989) 834- 2661

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Use of Beef sire semen on Dairy cows does this impact your business?

 CONCEPTIONS  Beef Cow-calf route newsletter            March-April 2020


Individual national dairy AI marketing systems are reporting gains of a million or more straws of beef semen sold per year the last two years—to “dairy” herds!!

Does this help you financially?   Not at all – unless you have semen collected on a bull that any neighborhood dairy herds will buy from you.

They are not buying elite breeding quality bull semen:  they are mostly buying “calving ease” Angus at more commercial level prices.    The calves born mostly go to the deacon sale rings, bull or heifer.     Someone buys them to feed up to feeder size, then they enter that market, possibly competing with beef-breed feeder steers you have raised to sell.

In a recent issue of Progressive Dairyman magazine, Dr Dan Schaefer, professor of Animal Science at University of Wisconsin, challenged this trend, based upon research he has been doing since 1982 on fed Holstein steers.    He says Holstein steers make up 14% of the fed beef supply, and provide 33% of the USDA-graded “Prime” carcasses in the USA.    He thinks packers wish to stay with Holstein steers for now…  due to their predictability.

Yes, as we already know from crossbreeding to create composite and club-calf cattle, you may not get uniform results (he calls it “predictable” lots of cattle) desired by packers from Holstein x Beef breed crosses.    But does the fault of this lie with the “beef” side of the cross?    Never said in the article, nevertheless the tone of his comments implies it.

As a dairy-trained animal scientist, he may be struggling with the economics that have driven dairymen to use beef semen in quantity.    (I was on a dairy in NE Indiana recently that breeds ALL his cows to Beef bulls, due to lack of space and labor to raise replacements, intending to take advantage of the currently depressed market values for springing dairy cows should he need to replace any of his current milking herd.)     The promotion of sexed semen for dairy heifer inseminations has created a glut of dairy heifers in many herds and depressed the sale market for replacements.    Some find their way into the kill pens to be sold for beef, beyond the usual flow of culled dairy cows, and may compete with fed beef.

Can a Holstein x Beef cross compete with straight Holstein fed steers?    Of course—as many of you already know from individual experience.    The dairy industry has a different concept for “feeding efficiency” than the beef industry, equating growth rate and frame size with success.    The percentage of “prime” grade Holstein steers he quotes is dependent on full-corn feeding for over half their life, and is based upon a layer of white fat external to the muscle tissue that consumers increasingly tend to trim off before broiling (a waste of resources and an additional cost to the consumer).     The majority of beef eaters today are quite satisfied with a “choice” grade, preferring intermuscular marbling over outside fat layers.     In this our market grading system is due for some revision—especially as it views the “grassfed” carcass from breeds and cross combinations that are selling for a strong premium over commercial auction chain beef.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Creating physical and behavioral “balance” through breeding


CONCEPTIONS   Dairy Route Newsletter                 February March 2020


The cow is a physical being living in a physical environment.    While Genetics focuses on “economic” measurement, a “theoretical” cow is not guaranteed to thrive in a “real world” (as opposed to ideal) setting.   She has to be “fit”.

In this, I am not suggesting that any of the various DNA modellings of “fitness” or “wellness” or all the other current fads in focused sire selection provide that “balance” in the physique that is required for a cow to survive (let alone thrive) in a typical dairy environment.   She is even less likely to transition successfully to a different environment.    The “Ideal” genotype is designed for the “ideal” environment and is never expected to move from that in her lifetime.    Ask any dairyman with a high herd turnover, who has been dependent on auction barn cows to replace his herd—How long do purchased cows last?    The consensus is “1.5 lactations”—not very long.

Genetic evaluation is focused on finding economic advantage on the “income” side of the ledger.    It has not proven any ability to lower costs of production.   In commodity production, profits flow to the most cost-efficient, not to higher yield.

There is a breeding guide focused on producing physically balanced, thus more environmentally adaptable dairy cows.     “Balanced” cows last longer, because they lack the extreme traits that  are known to cause early herd exits.    They have more feed processing capacity within optimal body proportions, size and scale.    They handle birthing and calving recovery better, they have more consistent feed intake, they breathe easily, move easily, and stand sturdy on any surface inside the barn or outside.

“Balanced breeding” for some is a slogan based on having bulls with plus milk, plus type, plus fitness on genetic trait measures alone.    This has nothing to do with the way genotypes will combine to produce an offspring that has optimal physical function in their environment.   The real need is for the “balanced mating”, in which desired qualities of function can coexist after being inherited from a cow and a mating sire whose physical tendencies can counterbalance any weakness or extreme expression in each of them individually.

Of course, if you know me, I am describing what “aAa” breeding guide does for those who have chosen to use it as their “mating guide”, after having chosen sires selected on the package of economic traits you are seeking in this generation of cows.    “aAa” and sire selection (on pedigrees, on type traits, on index rankings, on yield and value traits) work together, neither replaces the other when the desire is to have a constantly improving herd for daily function and optimal cost of production.    

If you have already tried everything else, and still feel your herd could be better (do better), it may be time to try “aAa”.     Call for a demonstration and see for yourself.


Call us (989) 834-2661 if you wish Gene to see you or drop off anything.