2012 August Seedstock EDGE - page 10

Mike Paul
CEO, National Swine Registry
NSR Editorial
Open Mike
GPS or the Atlas
To contact Mike, use your smartphone to scan the code to the left or email him at
I had a good friend who was both a
cattleman and a horseman involved in the
purebred livestock industry. is gentle-
man passed away several years ago, but I
still often refer to his words of wisdom.
One really strikes home with me:
If you
want to get to your destination, you’ve got
to stay on the road.
ere will be detours,
curves, hills to climb, hills to go down,
bridges to cross, at tires, mechanical
problems, etc. But if you stay on the
road, you will reach your destination.
en, in some good-natured banter
he’d say,
“You dang hog people – you drive
on the road a while, then go down into the
ditch, through the fence and out into the
eld. en you try to correct this problem,
you go back out over the road and go down
into the other ditch and into the eld.
You take the same ride over and over.”
He and I grew up in northern Iowa.
If you haven’t traveled in that part of
country, you don’t realize how deep
those ditches are and how many seri-
ous wrecks are caused when drivers
stray o the road or overcorrect.
Now, I do know he was a little envi-
ous of how quickly we could change the
type and kind of hog we were produc-
ing due to the shorter genetic interval
compared his specie groups. However, I
appreciate his analogy of our industry.
So, does your breeding program
resemble his comment? Do you go from
ditch to ditch, or do you try to stay on
the road? Do you take the time to study
the atlas, planning the route to reach
your destination – or do you just listen
to the voice on the GPS without giving
it another thought? In today’s environ-
ment, where everyone wants it now
coupled with the ability to do just that,
it’s harder to take the time to study and
plan how to reach your destination.
I look at the group of breeders
contributing to the improvement of
their respective breeds, and they all have
one thing in common – they plan to
make the next generation of their breeds
better. ey know their destination, so
they stay ahead of many in the game. Of
course, I realize changes in the structure
of the swine industry have required some
of our members to re-plot their travel
routes, as their original destination may
have been moved one way or another.
is group of breeders realizes the
contribution of the maternal side of their
breeding program, and I can’t emphasize
the importance of these contributions
enough. e breeders that retain and
build on their best females year after
year continue to rise to the top of their
respective breeds. It’s amazing how often
these breeders can refer to a sow, a pair
of sows or the daughters of a certain boar
that serve as the foundation of their herd.
e number of o spring related to these
foundation females retained in their herd
and utilized throughout the country to
improve the breed is staggering. We all
know, building a sow herd is not an easy
task – it is an ongoing challenge for all
in the swine industry. Sadly, it’s also as-
tounding how quickly that good sow herd
can be lost! I feel one of the main reasons
we don’t make the progress we feel we
should is because we often remove the top
10-20 percent of our purebred females
and breed them to make crossbreds.
Another contributing factor to the lack of
consistency in our sow herd and pig crop
is the lack of females sired by the same
boar within a herd. It takes a breeder ded-
icated to sticking to their guns to build
this foundation and not just listening to
the voice on the GPS to nd their way.
A wise Yorkshire breeder told me
several years ago, the boar you select for
your new herdsire will produce a pig
crop that looks like the average sows
in the herd from where you selected
him. Man, how true that statement is.
e friend I referred to at the begin-
ning of this article had the privilege to
judge many di erent events across the
country. He felt too many judges tried to
read too much into the animals or tried to
identify the most popular animal as they
were evaluating them. He said he used a
real easy system – the one he liked best
was rst, the one he liked next was second
and so forth. Now, I realize his system
sounds straightforward – and it is. When
I questioned him about this, he told me
he was selected to evaluate the show and
the people who hired him wanted his
opinion on animals could improve the
next generation of their respective breeds.
I want everyone (especially the
judges) to know that is what I expect
from the people we select to evaluate
animals at our events. You are respected
by your peers because of your ability,
and they want your opinion on why you
feel this animal can contribute to the
improvement of the breed you’re evaluat-
ing. Judging is more than creating a sale
order. I know no judge likes to have the
high-selling animal come into the ring
later in the sale order, but you cannot
determine what one or two people are
willing pay to own a speci c animal.
An idea that I would like to present
to all to help breeders plan their routes is
setting aside time at our events to allow
people to share input regarding their
breed – not a complaint session, but
rather a breed improvement forum. Let
me know your thoughts, 765.463.3594,
ext. 107, or
Never in history has it been
more important to take the time to
plan your trip and not simply fol-
low the voice on your GPS.
10 • SEEDSTOCK EDGE
August 2012
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