Select Sires Inc. announces the debut of StrataGEN, a unique, sequential breeding system that offers optimal use of genomic insights to help dairy producers achieve individual breeding goals while also minimizing inbreeding.
StrataGEN uses genomic insights to categorize both daughter-proven sires and young sires into one of five unique genetic lines, based on common traits they've inherited from their ancestors, as confirmed by individual genomic testing. Each line is identified with a single color orange, blue, green, yellow or red, for easy understanding and implementation into any dairy breeding program.
Following an initial consultation with a StrataGEN specialist, a herd's probable, existing genetic base is evaluated and long-term herd goals are considered to develop a three- to five-line rotation of sires that will provide the greatest genetic intensity with minimized inbreeding.
"Inbreeding and the potential financial losses it causes, is a real problem in dairy operations today," says Jeff Ziegler, genomic program manager at Select Sires. "With the intensive use of genomics now being applied to sire selection, the risk of inbreeding is even greater. However, a program like StrataGEN allows us to use this technology to actually reduce inbreeding by creating a minimum number of genetic lines that are very closely related and then crossing those lines with others that are much different. It brings heterosis back into the breeding program without the need for crossbreeding."
Inbreeding occurs when closely-related animals are mated. Effects of inbreeding include decreased cow health and vigor, lower lactation production, reduced reproductive performance, decreased calf vigor, increased calf morbidity and mortality, as well as a much higher risk of recessive genetic disorders. Research has indicated that for each 1 percent inbreeding increase in a herd, performance is impacted by:*
- -24 Lifetime NM$
- +.36 days of age at first calving
- -13 days Productive Life
- -790 pounds lifetime milk production
- -25 pounds lifetime protein production
- +.26 month first calving interval
All of these issues add up to have a significant impact to a dairy producer's bottom line.
"We know that dairy operations need highly-effective programs to help them take advantage of genetic technologies," notes Lyle Kruse, vice president U.S. market development at Select Sires. "StrataGEN is the first program of its kind that allows these technologies to be used in a simple to implement and easy to confirm system that allows each herd to uniquely develop their protocol. Using all sires from one line for the first generation makes it easy to switch to the next desired color or line for the next generation, without concern or consideration for individual pedigree evaluation; StrataGEN will have done that for them," he continues.
"The StrataGEN program is something we've been developing since genomic testing technology was perfected," says Ziegler. "For several years and even multiple generations, we've been carefully mating and sorting bulls specifically designed to fit each of the five lines. It is exciting to now bring this program to the market."
All bulls used in the StrataGEN program have been or will be proven through Select Sires' progeny test program, with special emphasis on increased production, moderate body size, and the ability to maintain body condition score and fertility. StrataGEN is a breeding program designed for multi-generational commitment, allowing each generational cross to become more uniform in genomic make-up, thus allowing optimal performance with minimal inbreeding.
Based in Plain City, Ohio, Select Sires Inc. is North America's largest A.I. organization and is comprised of nine farmer-owned and -controlled cooperatives. As the industry leader, it provides highly fertile semen as well as excellence in service and programs to achieve its basic objective of supplying dairy and beef producers with North America's best genetics at a reasonable price.
StrataGEN is a trademark brand developed and owned by Select Sires Inc.
* Cassell, B.G. Effect of inbreeding on cow performance and mate selection in dairy cows. Western Dairy Management Conference, April 8-10, 1999, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA p.188-195.