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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: What Not to Look for in Advertisements for Genetics

Authors
item Powell, Rex
item Sieber, Martin - NAAB
item HUBBARD, SUZANNE

Submitted to: Nuestro Holando
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 1999
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Some advertisements claim to compare countries as sources of genetics but fail to present any data on genetics. Statements that emphasize average phenotype or trends may be true, but they are not the information on which breeding decisions should be based. Whether the trend described in an ad is phenotypic (such as 305-day average actual milk yields) or genetic (such as breeding value of cows), emphasizing progress is often a strategy used by those trying to catch up. Nearly every country in the world is currently improving the genetics of its dairy cattle population more rapidly than the United States because those countries are starting with animals of lower genetic merit and are using U.S. genetics to improve the merit of their animals. Beware of marketers and advertisements that only stress trend but not current level, especially if the measure is phenotypic. Instead of using phenotypic averages or trends to compare countries, a more meaningful measure to compare is the estimated genetic merit of bulls from various countries on the same scale for traits of interest. The International Bull Evaluation Service (Interbull) in Sweden currently calculates evaluations for yield traits on many different country scales. International evaluations for conformation (type) traits will also be available soon. If you really want to find out how bulls from different countries compare, look at the Interbull results on any one country scale. Choose one that has familiar terms and definitions for genetic expressions and units. Clever advertising attracts our attention, but be careful to identify the content so that irrelevant facts do not influence your breeding decisions.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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