Monday, April 4, 2022

Building equity value into a dairy herd in today’s commodity world

In one week during an “aAa” customer schedule across north central Ohio, I discovered two Holstein herd owners with the same novel idea: select on gene markers for two premium milk categories (not just one). In other words, they were now requiring all service sires to have the A2A2 gene markers for “Beta Casein” (milk digestibility) as well as the BB gene markers for “Kappa Casein” (cheese yield).

These dairies are in the Dalton (125 cows) and Orrville (250 cows) area of Wayne County Ohio, where land prices and absentee landlord ownership make herd expansion nearly impossible. Thus it takes a premium milk marketing strategy while reducing external input costs to increase returns on investment. In their part of the world, there are processors seeking higher value milk, either for bottling (for the Cleveland market) or for cheese making.

Is it hard to find Holstein bulls worth using who are A2A2 Beta Casein? Not any longer, at least in the programs we offer, a third of the sires are known A2A2 (the expected Holstein percent of A2A2 animals is 25%). Is it harder to find Holstein bulls worth using who are BB Kappa Casein? You bet it is... the expected Holstein percent of BB animals is less than 10%.

If you check out the latest sire catalog from AI TOTAL you will find they feature 21 A2A2 sires and 13 BB sires. Nine of these sires are both A2A2 Beta Casein and BB Kappa Casein. So far we are stocking these:
515 HO 381 I AM RED PP GTPI is 2646. Net Merit $ is 657.

724 HO 2005 NIPIT PP *RC GTPI is 2685. Net Merit $ is 577. 288 HO 237 ADAWAY GTPI is 2809. Net Merit $ is 743.

It is not unusual today to find the Red & White and *RC sires have advantageous gene marker profiles. An example of an A2A2/ BB combination at INTERNATIONAL PROTEIN SIRES is: 566 HO 1321 CATCH ON PP RED +.13% bf and +.10% pr. Low SCC 2.66. Calving ease 1.6%

It is much easier to find A2A2 Beta Casein and BB Kappa Casein together in Jersey bulls, but if you also add in PP (“Pure Polled”=homozygous polled) it gets harder... yet both International Protein Sires and Triple Hil Sires, as well as Sustainable Genetics have several such combines.

Anticipating new market opportunities is a good strategy, and the A2A2 and BB opportunities are only available by focusing your genetic inputs. If this appeals to you, we are happy to be of help in identifying and sourcing bulls with unique gene marker traits.

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