My husband works as a seed research & sales specialist for Growmark FS.  His work-world is dominated by corn, soybeans, wheat and various cover crops.  He’s amazing at his job and much like us at All West, dedicates his time and energy to serving his customers and always learning as much as he can.  So it’s no surprise that we have seed bags and field signs and weigh meters in our garage.  This summer, as we were doing some cleaning, he came across some soybeans that had fallen out from a piece of equipment and on a whim, he informed me that he was going to plant these in the back flower garden.  Yes…exactly what I had imagined to be growing in the flower bed…soybeans!

Wouldn’t you know they poked through the ground and within weeks had grown VERY well!  In fact, I’d say they’re going to be a bumper crop for our little slice of tillable dirt.  And that got me thinking…

These backyard soybeans had no competition, except for some Black Eyed Susans and a dahlia.  They were fertilized, had no weeds to overcome, had no other soybean plants to compete with, were protected from the west wind, and watered during the driest of weeks.  They are soybeans just like the variety that’s grown next door to us, but they’ve lived completely different lives to date.  Is it fair to compare their outcome this fall?  Not even close.

How does that relate to the dairy industry?  We all know that after proofs, one of the most “exciting” lists to come out is the new young sire list.  Who’s got the next big one?  Who is siring the bulls of the future?  What should we be using now to get a jump on the rest of the industry?  Who can get there first in this genomic frenzy?  As a result, many people scramble to find the newest Top 200 TPI Genomic Young Bulls list provided by Holstein Association.

When you first look at the list, it seems as though all is good.  They’re all registered Holstein males with outstanding genomic proof numbers.  On paper, they look equal.  On paper, it looks like a fair comparison.  But just like the soybeans, the “field conditions” are a little different.  They’re not facing the same competition, or in many cases, they’re not all “even in the field!”

If you look at the Top 200 TPI Genomic Young Bulls list again, you’ll see there are some bulls highlighted.  These are the ONLY bulls that have semen available.  The bulls that aren’t highlighted don’t have semen available.  What happens when they’re finally old enough to be collected?  Their proof numbers MIGHT not be where they are today, so it could be an entirely different looking list.

So of the first two pages of the list, where 90-some bulls appear, ONLY 25 have semen available right now.  There are only 25 logistical choices for you as a breeder to use right now.  There are only 25 options that you can use for a flush right now.  You get the point.

We’re not down-playing the exciting POTENTIAL of the other bulls on the list by any means.  In fact, it’s fun to look at what COULD be coming in the next year or so.  But when you’re talking about bulls that you can use right now in your breeding program, maybe the list ought to contain bulls that are available and are making semen, because those are the bulls that truly have genetic merit today.

We’re pretty sure the backyard soybeans will “yield” extremely well for us, but we’re not racing to contract any beans with the local feed mill just yet.  It’s fun to see what you can grow in ideal situations, but the true test of any bean, or any bull, is to get out there and compete with the elements and compete in the freestalls, and compete in the proof numbers.

When you’re ready to take it to the field and talk about real results, your All West team is ready and willing to SHOW you what our genetics can do.  Future genetic possibilities intrigue us, but the apples-to-apples comparisons in your freestalls and drylots hold a lot more excitement for us.

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