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.

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