By Michael A. Sokolowski, President, AlphaGenetics, Inc.
We have two concerns:
1) the USDA, not bull studs, must be the sole statistical reaper & printer of all bull proof information;
2) the TPI formula needs to change immediately.
First, the US government has removed funding for USDA from all bull summary sire work. USDA was the “gold standard” in the world for amassing dairy cattle productive data, and is the most credible source of dairy sire info in the entire world. One suggestion is have all dairy bull studs pay for the funding of USDA sire proofs. We need a non-economically profiting group doing this.
Secondly, the major consensuses of dairymen feel cows are getting too sharp and frail and lack body capacity. Go with the facts: genetics for more cow strength of chest, bone substance, constitutional vigor and also to strengthen immune systems will make lower SCC. Today’s TPI formula will lead to thinner, frail cows with increased infertility, higher SCC and greater culling. Many herds cull out 30-50% cows/year. How long will they stay in business? Heritability for productive life is 8%, daughter pregnancy rate only 4%. Somatic cell inheritability? Nearly 50%. Breed to 2.4 to 2.8 low SCS sires and you’ll get more lower SCC cows. Current TPI formula gives only 10% of total emphasis to PTAT type, & only 12% of PTAT is udders! Remember “no udder, no cow.” Production is the basis for 43% of TPI. How will cows fare & last with even less emphasis on durable body strength & capacity so less expensive corn and soybeans are needed? The average cow only lasts about 1.8 lactations. We need more bulls like Shottle and Goldwyn – for more longevity and high components and low SCC. So what can you do?
1. Contact your congressmen & senators today at 202-225-3121 and politely ask them to a) sponsor a bill making dairy bull studs fund USDA Production Summaries, and b) force the USDA to collect and publish this data as they have in the past, but with no taxpayer funding.
2. Contact the Holstein Association USA, Inc. at 800-952-5200 and politely demand that they change the TPI formula to a formula that is at least 50% based on PTAT, 35% production, 23% SCS, 1% CE, and 1% DPR, since over 50% of milk is due to feed and management. Let’s build a “Gold Standard.” Then, together, integrity as an industry will be our greatest strength.