some people know the "Roundtable Polled Genetics", which was published in the Red Bloodlines and can be seen on my website:
I now asked the same questions to some other polled breeders around the world, to publish the results here. Today I will start with Arron Doon Holsteins form Canada:
Roy Mac Gregor - Arron Doon Holsteins
Millbrook, Ontario, Canada
We have been breeding R&W Holsteins at Arron Doon since 1982. Today our herd consists of 60 cows, and about 60 young stock, of which about 15% are R&W, and a very large majority of the rest are *RC.
Have been interested in the polled gene for many years, but was always a little skeptical, (my own ignorance) and didn't really get involved much until visiting the Burket-Falls, and Hickorymea farms in I believe 2001. My skepticism after those visits was no longer an issue, there really is good Holsteins that are polled.
Currently only milking 3 polled, with about 10 polled young stock, but many more are on the way.
Q: Explain your background and experience with polled dairy cattle.
My background in polled breeding is limited, as it only started after visiting the herds mentioned in 2001, and the purchase in partnership with West Port Holsteins, of 2 cows from Hickorymea.
An E.X Aerostar, and a V.G Leadman Judge. Have since purchased many embryos from Hickorymea, from their top families, as well as used a few polled sires on some of my own top cows.
Q: Do you feel the role of polled genetics has evolved over the past 10 years, stayed about the same, or decreased in scope?
It is most defiantly evolving, many top herds in Canada have been taking notice, and so have the A.I's. The closer the polled gene gets to the top of the population, the more interest it creates.
Q: What should breeders and producers realize about the polled
The sky really is the limit. Many breeders here are still not aware that polled genetics are available, and some still believe that polled Holsteins must not be pure, or that they trace back to a beef breed. After explaining that the polled gene is dominant, and that good ones do exist, most become interested very quickly. When you get polled offspring from the top LPI, or TPI bulls, they are not just daughters from a good sire, they are POLLED daughters of a good sire. Same concept as having 2 full sisters, 1 B&W, and 1 R&W, we all know which one is the easiest to market. I believe there is unlimited marketing potential for polled genetics.
Q: What do you feel are the biggest challenges and/or disadvantages of using and selecting for polled genetics?
The biggest challenge in my opinion, is to get the "stigma" of polled genetics removed from breeders, and A.I's who up to this point have not been open minded enough to try it. The biggest disadvantage is simply the small population.
Q: What strategies or approaches are you considering to address
challenges you have identified?
Getting polled offspring from top LPI/TPI sires, from deep and different cow families. Aggressive flush program on my top polled cows, and heifers.
Q: Do you feel polled genetics have a stronger presence and/or greater opportunity in Red cattle?
Without a doubt, mostly because those interested in R&W Holsteins have always been by pure necessity more open minded, about the sires they used. Seems fairly obvious to me that up to this point almost all the top polled families have some red in there, because their breeders have also been interested in R&W's.
Q: What sire or bloodline do you feel has had the greatest impact on
polled genetics today?
Burket-Falls, and Hickorymea
Q: In your opinion, what is the top polled family or cows you work with?
Hard to say that I have one that stands out just yet, but I am working on it.
What bulls have you used recently to extend the polled genetics?
Talent, Sept Storm, Marmax, Durham, Buckeye, Goldwyn, Final Cut, Oswald-P, Tenafly-P, and Dudley-P.
Q: What excites you the most about polled genetics?
The fact that the polled gene is becoming more popular almost daily.
Breeding R&W's has always been a very exciting and profitable alternative for me, but it has also been very challenging as well. 10 years ago the sires available to the R&W breeder were very limited, but ever since the bull Rubens appeared on the scene, it has really taken off, today the choices are plenty, and the interest has never been higher.
I feel it is the same for polled breeders, now that Oswald-P has appeared on the scene the interest has increased significantly, because of this the choices will be much more interesting, in a very short period of time. Unlike the red gene, polled is dominant so with some effort, I believe breeding for polled will without question become very profitable, and it will become much more than just a niche, or novelty market. The advantages of polled, are obvious, and the benefits are real, from a labor, and management standpoint, as well as for humane reasons.
A big "Thank you" to Roy! Please visit his homepage at http://www.arrondoon.com or better visit his farm, as I have done last fall. You will find a lot of interesting polled genetics there.