Connecting with John Meyer

John Meyer is the current CDCB Chair, serving from August 2017 to 2019. As Chief Executive Officer of Holstein Association USA, Meyer represents the Purebred Dairy Cattle Association on the CDCB Board of Directors.

The past year has been challenging for U.S. dairy farmers. All involved in the dairy community are impacted by the pressures of milk market volatility, regulatory change and an unsettled global economy. The Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding continues to focus on the accurate production of U.S. dairy cattle genetic evaluations through the ups and downs of the dairy industry.

One doesn’t have to be in a leadership position of an organization long to realize the importance of human capital. Top organizations are keenly aware of how important talented people are to their success. Talent of every type is in short supply today, but the biggest shortage is skilled, technical aptitude. A year ago, the CDCB employed nine full-time employees and three consultants. Today, the fine staff at the CDCB has increased to 12 full-time employees, while the number of consultants stayed the same. The staff is made up of individuals with high levels of skilled, technical talent.

In some ways, the CDCB could be looked at like Google. Obviously, Google is an excellent example of how today’s information-based economy lets organizations create stakeholder value using very little financial capital, but loads of human capital. Think of the value that official U.S. dairy genetic evaluations have brought to dairy farmers worldwide over the years. It’s absolutely enormous!

Currently, CDCB provides 49 different traits,and 17 official genetic conditions and haplotypes. Some breeders contend that is way too much data to study. Determining the best semen to use and females to buy has become confusing to some, while others are seeking more data. For those, the mantra is, “More is better.” Typically, every animal is strong on some traits and weak on others. The challenge of the CDCB is to present data of the highest quality to farmers, so they can identify and propagate the animals that best fit their operation.

Many thanks to all of the dairy cattle owners who contribute data for the critical national dairy cattle genetic evaluation program. In January 2018, there were 4,380,688 cows in 15,526 herds enrolled in DHI test plans – 21,621 fewer cows and 846 less herds than January 2017.

Since the inception of genotyping dairy cattle, 2,535,337 head have been genotyped through September 2018 – 2,212,849 females and 322,488 males. On a breed basis, Holsteins represented 2,194,305 of the 2,535,337 genotypes. From there, Jerseys represented 290,203, Brown Swiss 37,842, Ayrshires 8,794, and Guernseys 4,193 of the genotyped total.

At the CDCB Board of Directors organizational level, there are notable actions to report. The CDCB signed a research agreement with the University of Wisconsin- Madison for feed efficiency data collection. We are pleased to be able to work on this important research. The CDCB and USDA ARS1 signed a five-year research collaboration, the Material Transfer Research Data Exchange Agreement, which replaced the Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement.

Dairy industry cooperation over time – from the dairy cattle breeder, organizations like USDA, PDCA, DHIA, NAAB, dairy records processing centers, and allied industry – has been the foundation of the great success of U.S. dairy cattle genetic evaluations.

Thank you for your continued support of the CDCB.

1 United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service