Horned cattle are more prevalent in the global dairy population because few producers are choosing to select genetics for polled cattle. Genetic selection for production, health, and conformation traits have historically trumped the selection of polled genetics. It was kind of one or the other—but not anymore! 

Times are changing as the desire to create polled cattle increases. Public awareness of dehorning practices is a main driver in recent polled genetic selections. Naturally hornless cattle appeal to off-farm consumers from an animal welfare perspective, but as a producer, eliminating dehorning promotes calf welfare, reduces management practices, and increases safety for those working on dairies.  

Polled: The Dominant Gene 

Most do not realize the polled gene is dominant. In simple terms, animals with one copy of the polled gene and one copy of the horned gene will not have horns. The illustration below demonstrates the breeding outcomes of using homozygous or heterozygous polled bulls. It is important to note that if you are working towards a polled herd, you can use a heterozygous polled (single P) sire with 50% of the resulting calves being polled. You can also use a homozygous polled (double PP) sire, resulting in 100% of the calves being polled. This means you can create a naturally hornless animal in one generation. Because the polled gene is dominant, this allows us to create polled animals faster than if the gene were recessive. 

The ABS Polled Lineup 

The results of the December National Genetic Evaluation showed the strength of the ABS polled sire lineup. It might be time to consider polled genetics as the potential demand is expected to increase. Prepare for the future demand of these genetics with ABS Global’s dominate lineup of polled sires who possess the genetic qualities you see in mainline sires.  

If selecting polled sires to eliminate the need for dehorning, consider bulls such as 29HO20517 Perfect-P or 29HO20695 Memphis-P to start. However, ABS is proud to offer more than 50 polled sires to our customers in North America. You can view our entire lineup on Bull Search.  

Our entire lineup exhibits strength, depth, and quality built for many different customer systems and milk market opportunities. Not every national evaluation or industry popular sire will fit the specific needs of your dairy. Nor will it suggest the right female to mate with the right sire. That’s why ABS suggests utilizing a custom index to identify the genetic progress you wish to make.  

Creating a custom index weights the appropriate traits that matter to your dairy and helps you drive genetic progress faster. Working with a partner like ABS gives you access to assistance in creating breeding programs based on your custom index like implementing the winning game plan strategy of sexed genetics and beef.  

Contact your local ABS Genetic Advisor today to discuss your custom index and selecting genetics that maximize your dairy’s profit.  

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