Semex Alliance Chief Executive Officer Paul Larmer was recently interviewed by Bonnie Cooper of the Holstein Journal for the February 2010 edition. In this article Larmer discusses the direction and activities of Semex, as well as Semex's Balanced Breeding philosophy, challenging economic times, genomics and the future of Semex.
Here's an excerpt regarding genomic selection and Semex's Genomax™ product line:
"The Semex Alliance has been involved in "genomic" selection research since 2003. The incorporation of genomic information into official genetic evaluations is changing the animal genetics industry in a big way. How is genomic information being used by the Semex Alliance and what are Larmer's views on this new technology?
"First, genomics hasn't affected our philosophy in terms of the type of bulls that we want," he replies. "But what it has done has put a lot more emphasis on 'preselection' of bulls. Before you would look at a bull, his pedigree, Parent Average, bring him into the stud, run him through the sampling program and take your chances and see what he came out with. What genomics brings is an opportunity for us to add one more tool to the chest. Genomics is a tool. It is not the answer. It is a tool to help provide the answer. So now we will look at a lot more bulls, genomic test them on the farm, and then decide which ones to bring into our program. For dairymen on our young sire proving program it will reduce the risk of using an unproven bull because we have already gone through some of the preselection to get the very best into the program. The other thing genomics does is give us the ability to select for specific traits with a higher degree of reliability. And because we can express genomics on an LPI or TPI basis we can better determine if a bull should be sampled in the U.S. or Canada."
The Semex Alliance has recently begun marketing "Genomax" Teams, bulls that have a DNA profile but no progeny proof. To limit the risk, each Team contains five bulls. With five bulls the reliability of the group average is closer to that of a proven bull than if just one genomic tested young sire was used on his own.
"With every new technology there is a fear factor," says Larmer. "I look at genomics as one more evolution, not revolution. We look at it as a tool. It will not replace our young sire proving programs. Semex has always prided itself on its high reliability genetics. And to get that we still have to put bulls through a progeny proving program."
To read the complete article in PDF format click here.
Special thanks to the Holstein Journal for allowing us to post this downloadable story in its entirety.