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Discovering the value of registration

You never know who may come knocking if they can trace genetics

Jersey Cow on a sunny afternoon

Life has a way of making people revisit decisions. About five years ago the decision was made to keep up with registry memberships so our herd name didn’t get lost but we also considered that maybe it wasn’t worth the cost registering our youngsters.

There were a lot of reasons to question — one being the ever increasing fees and another our own lack of organization causing us to miss due dates. Animals that could be registered weren’t and life happened.

It would cross over our discussions in the spring but the costs, although not astronomical, seemed like a luxury item. Registering did not increase our sale price for breeding stock, plus attending shows meant exposing our herds to potential health threats. What would be the benefit to the farm by keeping up with registering stock?

Then Jersey Canada called. They had traced our first Jersey, Mona, to us and were very excited. Her dam had been an important, foundation cow in the 1980s so they wanted to keep her progeny in the herd book. They truly helped us to afford to get our tiny three-cow herd sorted out and back on the herd books. The classifier visited, at no charge, and helped us sort records so that our Mona and her daughters would be on record for perpetuity.

Today one of her granddaughters here is a result of a very old semen straw. It is nice to keep these old lines around to mix with fresh sires. Keeping up our registration helps the breed if someone is searching for a particular genetic line. The other part of registering animals is that it is advertising. Not only is it tax deductible, it is one guaranteed way that foreign people will know about your herd.

Long distance calls

It is not only of a value for the dairy cows, but this is also how foreign interests starting goat dairies find our herd. The first place these people look is the Canadian Goat Association membership. They go online to start phoning and emailing to find what they need. Imagine my surprise this past summer, after quite a few years of not papering doelings, when a Chinese man called to find animals. He was interested in working with a company in Eastern Canada making baby formula. Buyers want proof of breed purity and lineage, which offers some guarantee of production potential. Our last sale done in this manner was to a German family that immigrated to Ontario.

With this renewed interest in documented genetics it was timely that fresh Alpine (goat) genetics moved here from Saskatchewan. This new buck we call Treys is on paper fittingly named Whey South Brand New Legacy. His sire went champion last year and from what we have seen in milk tests there is plenty of promise from his daughters.

The main purpose of goats at Chikousky Farms is to clean the underbrush out of our bush pastures to make more grass for our beef cows. Because they are raised like a beef cow and keep their young with them all summer, our preference is for strong udder attachment so they do not get caught up on branches. We are also interested in a long lactation so they milk all summer. Checking with herds that have female offspring of this genetic line made us confident this new buck could improve our herd.

One of my fondest memories of beef bull shopping was a certain Shorthorn trip years ago. The one gentleman we visited was carrying on for his dad. He pulled out photo albums and registration papers from back to when they imported a bull from Scotland, around the time of the big Winnipeg flood in 1950. I was fascinated tracing this lineage and checking pictures of cows over the years. The progression of the breed was amazing. That afternoon sure brought it clear there is value in keeping registration papers on our stock. To be able to pull up ancestors and learn their productivity and talk to their owners is valuable. Of course not every trait is highly heritable but most economic ones are.

This year the best of the best on our farm will have tattoos and tags again. The belief that registration was money ill spent is not true. We reach potential buyers all over the world without exposing our stock to potential health threats — truly affordable advertising after all.

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