2 Holstein Bulls Sired Almost All American Dairy Cows, And That’s Really Bad News

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2 Holstein Bulls Sired Almost All American Dairy Cows, And That’s Really Bad News

2 HOLSTEIN BULLS HAVE SIRED ALMOST ALL THE DAIRY COWS IN AMERICA

Sometimes I wonder how people in authority can be so amazingly stupid.  And this is one of those times in a big way.  It turns out that 2 bulls sired almost all of the dairy cows on American farms.  And yes, that’s kind of insane level kinds of bad news.  Researchers at Penn State made this discovery just a few years ago.  They did a little research and found all the Holstein bulls that our farmers use in the United States are descended from just two bull ancestors.  The pattern started 60-70 years ago.  And it could put the industry as well as our health at risk.

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THE TWO HOLSTEIN BULLS HAVE BEEN POPULAR SEMEN SOURCE SINCE THE 1950S AND 1960S

The two “godfather” Holstein bulls were born in the 1950’s and 60’s.  They had great names, at least: Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation and Pawnee Farm Arlinda Chief.  Chad Dechow is a geneticist at Penn State and his studies focus a lot on dairy cows.  He explained how this has all come to be.  There’s a website called Select Sires.  And yes, it is what it sounds like.  If you want to order bull semen that’s where you go to get it.  American dairy farmers routinely do this, and then use the goods to artificially inseminate their dairy cows.  If you choose the Holstein bulls, you can choose the most productive sires.  And Holsteins dominate the business.

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ONE BULL ALONE HAD MORE THAN A QUARTER MILLION DAIRY COW DAUGHTERS

Chad Dechow found that a single Holstein bull on the website that has at least 250,000 daughters.  But there’s a reason!  That one bull is proven to produce cows that make over a ton more milk than other, more average bulls.  So if you’re on the website looking for the best, you’re going to choose the best.  And absolutely everyone is choosing the same, best, bull lineages.  But genetics needs variety for healthy populations.  We’ve already seen the loss of certain traits among Holsteins in a single generation.  Sure, these guys make some great milk producing cows.  But the less variety they have genetically, the more susceptible they could soon be to diseases.

And that’s no bull.

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