The Joneses and Genetics: Creating A Genetic Strategy That Keeps You Ahead

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“Keeping up with the Joneses” is commonly used to compare your success to your neighbors. Many dairy farmers compare their benchmarks with herds down the road and across the country to see where they stand or how they can improve. The desire to one-up the Joneses is only natural and typically becomes a goal for progressive herds. Producers are often familiar with industry benchmarks for production, reproduction and general business objectives, but most aren’t as familiar with industry averages for various traits and indexes. One sure-fire way to stay ahead of the genetic curve would be to use NxGEN® sires in your breeding program. NxGEN members are granted early access to the industry’s best genetics, ensuring that your herd’s genetic level is “keeping up with the Joneses” – most likely exceeding the Joneses.


By: Rick Ellerbrock, Eastern U.S. Manager of SDS, Select Sires Inc.

Creating A Complete Strategy

Many Select Sires customers have implemented strategies to help manage their heifer inventories. There are three components to a strong strategy: 

  1. Heifer inventory management
  2. Increased value of calves sold from terminal matings (beef x dairy)
  3. Mating the herd’s highest ranked females with high-ranking sires
Without the third component, the herd is only managing inventory and the premium received from saleable calves. The genetic component of the equation can be easily overlooked when developing a strategy because it takes five years to truly see that return on investment. It’s also important to keep in mind that as herds right-size their heifer inventory, there will be a finite number of replacements available each year. Less replacements coupled with a lower culling rate yields older cows. Herds with more aged cows are at a higher risk for lost revenue from health events. Focusing on elite genetics and selecting the best sires for health, mastitis resistance, fertility and productive life is critical.


Figure 1 is an example from a herd based on Net Merit (NM$). Genetic performance in the heifer groups began improving after the herd began using NxGEN sires. Their genetic merit experienced another boost when the herd began ranking their animals by genomic data and using that information in their breeding strategy.


Is NxGEN The Right Fit For Your Herd?

A common misconception of NxGEN is that it is cost prohibitive. Take these factors into account before you shy away from enrolling. 

  • There are volume discounts that are easily summarized by our genetic strategy calculators.
  • NxGEN offers some of the youngest and highest ranked sires from the Select Sires, Accelerated Genetics and GenerVations lineups.
  • Genetics can be challenging to quantify when we want to compare benchmarks with our neighbors. With NxGEN, you are guaranteed to be using the most elite sires and earlier than ever before. This early access can drive your genetic progress and profit!


Compare The Cost Benefits

When forecasting your herd’s future success, it’s important to consider what a sire is bringing to the table. Be confident that the sires you choose will increase the genetic level of the herd. Several years ago, Penn State University’s Chad Dechow, Ph.D. outlined the value of $100 of NM$ while comparing the costs of high-ranking versus lower ranking sires and considering Sire Conception Rate (SCR). Select Sires has since developed a tool that uses this study to help illustrate this value. For the example listed (Figure 2), I have compared a herd that is using a group of sires averaging $920 NM$ to the average of the current NxGEN lineup that averages $1,165 NM$. This example shows that utilizing the NxGEN lineup could provide an additional $45.47 per unit of value.

Modern dairies are managed with the utmost scrutiny. The ultimate goal is to have the most productive and efficient cow in each stall. Your Select Sires team can help create a strategy to achieve this goal. Boosting your genetic performance will keep you ahead of the Joneses.


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