Recently, Holt Creek Jerseys conducted a survey* that included several questions about what customers are looking for in choosing grazing genetics for their grazing dairy, and the results are in: Most customers want to use semen from A2A2, Grass-fed bulls with high butterfat percent and longevity.
Other traits that were shown to be desireable were Polled, Butterfat Volume, and Calving Ease, all of which are traits that Jerseys are known for, and which Holt Creek Jerseys has been selecting for since we started breeding Jersey cattle almost 30 years ago. Our A2A2, Grass-fed bulls come from our oldest cows that can calve unassisted on pasture, maintain body condition, produce high-butterfat milk, and breed back to do it all over again, year after year after year.
When asked the question, “When choosing a bull or semen to use in your herd, how important are the following traits in making your decision?” 67.5% of respondents chose the A2A2 Beta Casein milk protein as “Extremely Important” in making that decision. 50% of respondents stated that using 100% Grassfed bulls was extremely important to them. The Polled trait was rated Extremely Important by 37.5% of respondents. Interestingly, Dam-Raised and Line-bred bulls are extremely important to more customers than outcross genetics and aAa Weeks analysis numbers. All responses to this question are broken down in the chart below:
Production Traits: Butterfat is King
Regarding Production Traits, Butterfat is the most desireable genetic characteristic. 60% of respondents rated Butterfat Percent as extremely important to them, with 37.5% of respondents rating Butterfat Volume as extremely important. Protein Percent and Volume were the next highest-rated traits, showing that overall, the high-solids milk of Jersey cattle is valuable to customers. In fact, Milk Volume was rated as exremely important by only 7.5% of the respondents. Clearly, when selecting A2A2, Grass-fed bulls, most customers value quality over quantity. See the breakdown of responses regarding production traits below:
Reproductive Traits: Longevity Tops It All
Reproduction is vital to the profitability of a grazing dairy. In fact, the Reproductve Traits portion of the survey garnered more “extremely important” votes than any other portion. With 75% of the respondents rating Longevity as extremely important to them, it was the single highest-rated trait of all those identified in the survey. A cow that can live, produce, and reproduce well into her teenage years is a profitable cow. At Holt Creek Jerseys, we use the sons of long-lived cows like this when collecting semen to offer our customers. Calving Ease is also extremely important to a majority of the survey respondents.
Over the 30-year history of Holt Creek Jerseys, we have seen many breeding trends come and go. Some traits, such as A2A2 beta casein, once regarded as a fad that wouldn’t last, still remain important and have only grown in demand over time.
More commercial dairy producers are looking to a grass-based system of management as a way to increase their bottom line. Many of these same producers are focusing on milk quality and fertility, rather than on high-volume, high-maintenance cattle that cost too much to own.
Small-scale dairy producers, including micro-dairies, farm-label creameries, and family milk cow keepers, have realized the value of healthy, vigorous, low-maintenance cattle in producing high-quality milk for their value-added products and direct-to-consumer milk marketing efforts.
This is why Holt Creek Jerseys selects A2A2, Grass-fed bulls from maternal cows that can calve unassisted on pasture, raise a strong, healthy calf, and breed back repeatedly for many years. Our goal is to offer bulls that provide the total package of desired traits to help take your herd’s performance to the next level and increase your profit per acre.
*Survey method: A link to an online survey was sent via email and social media to existing subscribers and followers of Holt Creek Jerseys. The survey was voluntary, and no incentive was offered in return for completing the survey. The survey was open for 18 days. 40 respondents completed the survey during that time.