Committed to the improvement of the breed by breeding for health, temperament and better structure in dogs that have the ability to herd.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Popular sire syndrome

I swear I have no idea where all these thoughts have been festering ;)

In beef and more specifically dairy breeds of cattle where there is a hugely large portion of the national herd bred via artificial insemination with frozen semen...... popular sire syndrome is a huge topic. With as many cows in the registered herd (not to mention 2x as many that are unregistered, but 'grade' (purebred but no papers), the population should have 2% or less inbreeding coefficient. Holsteins in particular last time I checked had a 9% inbreeding coefficient. WHY? Many farmers tend to buy the most popular bull at the time in hopes of capitalizing on its milk, protein or API numbers, and beef farmers breed to popular bulls in hopes of getting offspring worthy of showing or selling as seed stock to other farmers who do not do AI.

This leads to several things. First thing is the quality of the breed (if that bull is a good producer) is increased. This also goes to prove the bull as a long term producer, the quality of his replacement females, and long term 'family' line in the breed. The second thing it does is brings up ugly recessive things to the surface. In a way its good to get it out in the open, but because of the use of Angus in the Simmental breed to get the polled (lack of horns) and solid black color, they were used. This brought in several diseases that should only have been genetically expressed in the Angus breed.

Down the road so many people have used these bulls that they are screaming for out crosses to go to. Something to open their lines back up. Some of us, who don't typically use the popular sires for many of the above reasons keep plugging away doing our own thing. We are the seed stock producers that the AI companies look for....hoping to find something unrelated to the bulls they have been advertising and promoting. And then that bull becomes popular and the circle continues.

One of the first things I saw in the Cardigans is the overall lack of breed uniformity. Sure they all looked long and low from a distance but head pieces, fronts, rears, coat texture its all over the board. Coming from a livestock perspective the quickest way to fix that lack of uniformity is to breed to the same sire. And I see this alot and yet it seems as though overall the highly used dogs still do not stamp themselves on their get in every instance. I understand that one calf is easier to get to uniformity than 8 puppies but farmers usually have 50-500 cows and all their calves look identical when using the same bull. That is what buyers at the auctions love....the uniformity in look, size, color and pattern (or lack of i guess).

I've watched many people's breeding practices in the past. Some breed to every top 10 or 20 dog available. Some to every old 'great' dog that still has frozen semen available. Others only breed to what is local or in the own home. And others yet find dogs that no one is using to keep the diversity open in the breed (amongst other reasons of course). I like to take gambles. I have used dogs that haven't had many litters. I use young dogs. Does that mean I don't like the top dog or heavily used stud dog? No. But I also don't want my dogs to be exactly what everyone else is breeding for either. Sure that might say 'breed uniformity' but I truly believe that with a small gene pool already we need to not all be using the same dogs.

So how does one go about breed uniformity when everyone prefers a different look, and popular sires may or may not stamp themselves on to their get?

I find it so odd that a breed that is so small in numbers has so little uniformity. Surely regional areas or kennels themselves have uniformity but how do we get to overall breed uniformity without sacrificing our genetic diversity that we have by not using the same 5 dogs?

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