Design Cows for your Operation

What’s trending? What’s this month’s fad? What is the next latest and greatest? All are phrases we use to describe the latest changes in an industry. In agriculture, it is hard for us to predict market swings, potential regulation changes, or consumer trends. However, we have more tools available today to help us weather the storms of change. The best tool in our toolbox is genetics.  

[LEARN MORE: Genetic Audit]

While hopping on the flavor of the month genetics train is not the genetic strategy we suggest, we do suggest being aware of environmental, efficiency, social, and economic change signals and focusing on traits that correlate with the high profit impact when changes occur. 

Today, we have genomic testing technology and a whole host of data collected every day on your dairy which allows you to better cross-reference the traits in your dairy with the profit impacts of change. With this information, you can identify genetics behind cows who thrive in your operation and milk market. Design your cows specifically for your production system and be better prepared for selection changes by being aware of market signals.  

Think about the following areas we have seen change in recent years.  

  • Environment  
  • Feed-efficient and ‘green’-friendly 
  • Economic efficiency  
  • Milk market 

Are your genetics prepared to handle change? 

The most important thing to remember when selecting genetics is that your genetic selection should correlate with your profitability. Choosing to use the most popular bull in the industry might not be the best fit for your operation. Chasing a consumer trend when there is no opportunity for you to sell for a premium in your milk market can be costly. Make genetic selection on traits and in production areas that benefit you in terms of profit. Breeding for either the average or unknown is dangerous to the genetic makeup of your herd and can be costly to breed for if it is not the best fit in your system or market environment.  

[LEARN MORE: Genetics Management System]

Remember, genetics stay in your herd and compound year over year. The latest industry fad or industry genetic indices might not fit your herd, or ultimately, lead you to strong genetic progress. The latest trend could come and go as fast as tomorrow. Sticking to a plan while being aware of change should be your focus.  

At ABS, we support developing a custom genetic index to rank sire selection and your herd’s genetic on relevance for your operation. A custom index allows you to make genetic progress on traits that matter to your herd while giving you the flexibility to adapt to future changes in the market that impact your profitability. You have tools available to design cows who excel in traits that specifically influence your dairy’s economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Reach out to your local genetic advisor to discuss implementing a custom index in your herd.  

Build a dairy herd that suits YOU, not one that suits the industry. 

Learn more about creating designer cows for your operation by reading our article originally published in Progressive Dairy. 

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