Experience Normande genetics
Another breeding season is here, along with a new opportunity to experience Normande genetics. Please take a look at our Summer 2013 indexes and, if it's your first time, take a leap of faith! Whether you graze or not, crossing with Normande offers many benefits. Check our the various pages of our website for more details about the breed's many strong qualities. See more information on our catalog page on how to choose our bulls. As usual, graziers are advised to focus on bulls with low stature indexes for medium size cows if they cross with Holsteins. Low stature is less important if you cross with Jerseys. Finally, do not forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for quicker and more frequent news updates.
The Normande option for sustainability and added value
Normande Genetics was created in 1997 to bring the top dairy genetics of the Normande breed to the American grassland. Because the U.S. dairy industry had long since cut its grass roots in favor of intensive, high-energy, grain-based systems, we believed that genetics here were no longer well suited to grass-based operations. That insight has been confirmed consistently in interactions with American dairy farmers, whose herds are suffering loss of functionality in fertility and longevity, owing to over-selection for productivity, and secondarily, “dairyness.”
While the U.S. dairy sire selection process has changed its position on these issues, it will take time to see results in the field. In-breeding and a narrowing gene pool for most dairy breeds worldwide contribute to the problem, so there is no easy answer to the loss of functionality.
That’s why crossbreeding or switching to another breed, better suited to low input operations, makes sense. After all, when dairy farmers switch to grazing, they want low-cost operations and low input, which means profits and margins replace production as the main benchmarks of success. In turn, genetic traits that contribute to the bottom line become essential, while selecting for milk production becomes less important.
The Normande’s traits serve the objectives of grass-based operations in two ways: lowering costs as much as possible, while adding value whenever possible. Does this mean the Normande is perfect? No, and there are some other viable options for graziers, but the Normande has outstanding attributes as a purebred or in a cross-breeding program. The breed has shown successful examples with all U.S. dairy breeds and is often included in three-way crossbreeding programs. The University of Minnesota’s new experimental organic herd will include such a cross.
Whether crossbred or purebred, Normandes in America are descendants of a well-adapted breed, developed for centuries on the permanent pastures of Normandy and bred for high-quality dairy products to serve the demanding, food-savvy Parisian market. Therefore, when evaluating the breed’s genetic traits, the Normande excels in terms of both sustainability and added value criteria. And those are the two categories most relevant to grass-based dairies.