Four Misconceptions about Dairy Genetics

It’s easy to let ourselves fall into the trap of doing things the same way we’ve always done. It’s easy. It’s consistent. It’s convenient. We do things the way we always have done because we are comfortable with the outcomes we experience. Nevertheless, does that mindset really maximize our progress towards success? Insert any word you would like for progress: profit, product, efficiency, or time. The list can go on, but the statement is still the same. While doing things the same way is not wrong, the mentality of doing the same things without even looking at or entertaining new ways of doing something is.  

We sometimes limit ourselves because we don’t know our options, or we deem things unachievable because of misrepresentations. Specifically speaking towards dairy genetics, we can label genetic solutions as impossible. With today’s tools and technologies, achieving what was previously thought unachievable is now the standard in the dairy industry. 

[RELATED: Genetic Audit]

Success in the dairy industry is based on genetic progress in your herd. The speed at which you make progress is all determined on the genetics you select. Study the speedometer of genetic improvement below. 

You can see that conventional and sexed genetics will progress you herd forward. However, IVF, a once-considered relevant tool only for the most elite in special genetic marketing programs, allows you to make progress even faster. You can make an entire herd of ideal cows to optimize return on investment when using IVF as a reproduction tool. Conversely, IVF embryos do not fit into the category of doing things the same way we have always done them when considering reproduction. Some those who are uncomfortable with change might not see the value in IVF right away.  


Here are a few misconceptions you might have heard about dairy genetics.  

  1. Dramatic genetic change takes many generations: With IVF embryos, you can make dramatic change in one generation 
  1. IVF is only economically beneficial for elite genomic donors and celebrated show cows: With IVF embryos, you can eliminate low-value females from creating unprofitable calves by having that cow carry an embryo 
  1. The best industry standard index animal will be the best donor or mating sire: An industry index is not created with your specific operation in mind which means you could misidentify the most profitable genetics in your herd  
  1. Reproductive performance in the summer can only be enhanced with investment in heat abatement systems or high-fertility bulls: IVF won’t fix a broken reproduction program, but it can help with annual reproductive rates by taking some pressure off the cow’s ability to become pregnant during summer months 

While IVF is not the solution for everyone’s needs, it does challenge us to get outside our comfort zone and think of different ways to maximize success. Learn more about utilizing IVF embryos in your herd by reading our article originally published in Progressive Dairy.   

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