Selecting Holstein bulls on the basis of single or limited traits, therefore ignoring potential weaknesses in key areas, is a short-sighted strategy in the context of building a herd for future profitability.
Bullsemen.com managing director Nick Kirby
So says Bullsemen.com managing director Nick Kirby, whose longstanding commitment to a ‘no holes’ approach to dairy cattle breeding is borne out in his company’s ‘minimum standards’ approach to semen marketing.
Having introduced minimum standard recommendations for £PLI, Production, Type Merit and key fitness traits during its formative years, Bullsemen.com has now raised the bar following January’s base change.
“The base change has created an ideal opportunity for us to review our minimum standards,” explains Nick Kirby, “and with the strength of our stud building all the time we have taken the important step of increasing the required level of the key criteria.
“For example, our minimum standard for PLI was £100, which would have become £65 allowing for the base change of -£35. Our new minimum standard is £80PLI, which is in effect a substantial increase. The same applies to Type Merit (now +0.8) and Production (now 100kg) and we continue to operate with no negatives for udders, legs & feet and longevity.”
Nick Kirby points out that only about 15% of Holsteins available on the UK market are capable of satisfying these minimum standards criteria and says that all too often marketing and promotion focuses on limited criteria.
“Most breeding companies still promote individual bulls on the basis on one or two traits only, and a lot of industry listings are also single trait - sometimes promoting bulls with significant flaws in their proofs. This means too many herds are being built with inherent faults that will take years to breed out of the herd.
“There is still sufficient choice available if dairy farmers apply minimum standards and take a ‘no holes’ approach and this will lead to more sustainable and profitable herds in the future.”
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