What About Genomics?

What About Genomics?

We invariably get some form of this question. Our response is respectful yet definitive. First of all, we do not rashly proclaim that the study of the function, and inheritance of the genome (definition of genomics) is worthless. It has its place.

The problem with genomics in the Holstein industry today is this: The one main fault of the index system has always been that it “bottlenecks” genetics of the breed. Let us explain. When ‘Bull A’ comes out at the top of the pile in terms of TPI, PTAT, etc, he is understandably used heavily on the highest-ranked indexing females. Their resulting offspring are then obviously the top indexing cattle as well, from which the next generation of young sires and donor dams will result.

In the last 5 years or so, genomics has only compounded and accelerated this dilemma. Open up any major stud catalog, and you will find that many of the top young genomic bulls share the same sire or maternal grand-sire.

Herein lies the beauty of pedigree breeding: There are myriads of different matings that have produced great, long-lasting cows.

In our 2017 catalog you will find 31 bulls with 29 different sires and 26 different maternal grand-sires. It is understandable that a great bull or cow will show up multiple times in a good pedigree, but if we lose the diversity of genes in the purebred Holstein…only bad things can happen. Secondly, instead of identifying which “true performers” can effectively transmit their genetic potential to the next generation, genomics has only increased the number of bulls whose sires are unproven and whose dams have never had an udder between their legs.

Once again, this is our view. You are most certainly entitled to yours.