History of the Composite Registries
Composite Beef Cattle Registry and Composite Dairy Cattle Registry
The Registries came about while doing research for another project utilizing extensive research and collaboration with some of the leading universities, companies, organizations, and breeders that are involved in the livestock industry. This research began over 12 years ago. As the beef industry began to change, with other breed associations allowing for the registration of animals that are crosses with other breeds, there were still cattle that did not qualify for registration for various reasons. We were seeing an opportunity to provide a registry for those cattle that did not qualify due to percentage of breed, the breed crosses, or the breed herd books being closed.
While several breed associations register percentage genetics and have even branded their programs, there are still many Composite crosses developed by breeders or groups of breeders with no place to go to create a well-documented paper trail. The purpose of the Composite Registries is to identify, track, document and maintain the ancestry of past generations and future offspring, like any purebred association sets out to do, regardless of breed composition.
Feedback has been very positive; Breeders are saying they can certainly see a need for what we are doing.
The overriding consensus that we are hearing is: “To be honest, I am pleased to see a Composite herd book being established. It is a way to document these cattle which has not been available before. Whether you like composites or not, they are a factor in our industry that is not going to go away anytime soon. I have slowly changed my mind over the years in regards to using composite bulls.”
“I think this is a wonderful resource. Commercial cattleman should be flocking to this association to manage their data. Think about how much a commercial cattleman would know about the performance of their cattle if they all had data and Genetic Evaluations. This doesn’t have to be just for producing composite bulls, think about selling your commercial heifers! There is a chart on the website on the heterosis you can gain…people who only want you to use straight bred cattle for commercial purposes always say ‘eventually you run out of hybrid vigor.’…As far as consistency goes you can get a lot further by breeding similar phenotypes across breeds and mating the cow to fix her problems than just shotgunning one bull.”
We are filling a definite void. In one situation, we had a member with a heifer that didn’t qualify for regular registry in a breed association due to breed percentage minimum requirement of 25%; she only had 12.5 percent, so they registered the heifer with us.” This youth was upset and thought that he wasn’t going to get to show his heifer at some shows he had planned to. After doing a web search they found our registry and after registering her with us he was able to show her in more classes than he otherwise would been able to.
With all of this connectivity and the other factors for us starting the Composite Beef Cattle Registry and Composite Dairy Cattle Registry, we felt that the registries to be the starting point for making the progression into the next phase of our long term goals easier.
We have been contacted by a State Department of Agriculture. They are looking at possibly utilizing our services for some of their programs that they are working on. This is where the next phase of where we are headed with our services to the dairy and beef industries. It will be basically a conception to consumption program affecting all sectors of the production chain.
When it comes to involvement with the dairy and beef industries, grew up on a livestock operation with dairy, beef and swine. Was a member of 4-H and FFA, and part of livestock and dairy judging teams that went to State where individually ranked in the top 10. Graduating High School took training as an AI Technician and was a representative for a major AI Stud and bred cows in a 10 county area, many times traveling well over 300 miles per day 7 days a week.
In the mid to late 70’s, when many of the Continental breeds were being imported to the US, one breed, the Normande was among them. Reading about the breed with interest, began looking at them more for dairy rather than beef. We selected a couple of the Normande bulls that felt would have dairy potential to cross on some of our Holsteins. The resulting crosses we had performed quite well with production right with our Holstein cows but with higher butterfat.
We have done DHI testing and was there at the beginning of using a computer in the early 80’s to transmit producers data to the DRPC processing center and retrieving herd management reports back rather than waiting for almost 2 weeks to get information by mail.
We have always wanted to know more about the animals than “she is just a cow”. Who is her sire? Who is her dam? Working with many dairy producers we implemented a system for identifying the calves at birth by taking pictures of the calves.
Composite Beef Cattle Registry
The Composite Beef Cattle Registry was started early in the Spring of 2013 when we discovered that many animals of breeding value were unable to be registered in any registry because of breed composition, breed percentage or a closed herd book. It was shortly after opening our doors that an exporter wanting to export over 200 head of Hereford females to Russia contacted us because they were unable to register or identify them. These animals were sired by Registered Hereford bulls and out of non-registered Hereford cows with known ancestry.
We were able to help this export company. We designed an export certificate and within 2 months we received approval from the Russian Federation for the acceptance of our Export Certificate. Once this was approved, we provided export certificates with pedigrees for those Hereford females exported to Russia. These certificates were then used by the receiving farmers in Russia for a subsidy payment from the Russian government on the purchase.
Composite Dairy Cattle Registry
In June of 2013 we received a couple of emails asking if we could register dairy animals. Being involved in the livestock industry with both beef and dairy, we knew about another registry that offered registration options. I emailed back and told them about the other organization, but their reply back to us was that there were issues in regard to that registry and they were searching for another organization that could better serve their needs.
We looked into the issues, (basically the other registry refused to recognize many of the breeds that we now represent as Dairy breeds). We then were in contact with other individuals that were interested in having a registry to represent them and these breeds. Working together with advice and input from these people we started the Composite Dairy Cattle Registry to serve the “non-traditional” breeders and owners of dairy animals.
The "non-traditional" breeds that we represent are Fleckvieh, Montbeliarde, Norwegian Red, Red Dane, Swedish Red and White, the ProCross (which is a continual 3-way cross of Holstein, Viking Red and Montbeliarde), Finnish Ayrshire and the North American Red (an animal with any combination of the “Red” breeds) and we also register animals of other varying crosses.
With the Milking Fleckvieh breed having been introduced into North America for over 15 years, we quickly realized that there were several issues in breed identification, especially identification in the USDA/CDCB database and inability of having genetic evaluations.
First, we discovered different breed codes were being used to identify the Fleckvieh. We had seen FV, SF, FL, SM and a few others which were very confusing. With us representing the interest of breeders in North America (USA and Canada), we discovered that in the DHI system in Canada that the breed code of FL had been used for the Fleckvieh animals. There were about 1,000 active and inactive animals in the Canadian database all identified with a breed code of FL and there were no animals in the system with an SM or any other breed code.
In the interest of being able to have consistency of breed identification we sought approval from the NAAB for the use of FL breed code for the Fleckvieh. It was in late November to early December 2013 after a phone conversation with Ole Meland, who was the Chair Person of the CDCB, when he ask us why we needed the FL breed code for the Fleckvieh. After explaining the situation to him, by mid December we were given permission to be able to use the FL breed code. This breed code was adopted and was added to the USDA/CDCB database.
Next, was being able to have cross-referencing for the Fleckvieh bulls that had been and were being used. In working with the Semen distributors and explaining things to them, they were able to have the foreign bull studs acquire an NAAB stud code. Now, how to handle another issue with the cross-referencing. It seems that most of the semen that comes in from some of the countries, the bulls are identified by a herd book number on the semen straws. So we were able to have a solution for being able to cross reference these herd book numbers. Now that we had an NAAB stud code we were able to give the bulls their own NAAB code, utilize the short name to also include the herd book number. We have well over 100 Fleckvieh bulls now listed with the NAAB cross referencing, and this list continues to grow.
Next issue discovered was many Montbeliarde animals in the USDA/CDCB database showed Ayrshire in their breed composition. In corresponding with Dr. Les Hansen (dairy geneticist at the University of Minnesota), and mentioning to him that we were unaware that the Montbeliarde had Ayrshire in their composition. He replied back that the Montbeliarde does not have any Ayrshire in their composition and to please see if we could correct this. In correspondence with the Montbeliarde Society in France, it was discovered that two females that appeared in the pedigree of many of the animals had been miss-coded as Ayrshire instead of Montbeliarde. We were able to make the necessary corrections.
In submitting records to be added to the USDA/CDCB database, we discover that there are about 15 - 20 percent errors in the pedigrees of animals where information is missing or incorrect. This is an ongoing process and we continue to correct these errors when they are discovered. To date we have corrected over 75,000 records.
Next was the Normande. This breed was a mess. We listed some Normande bulls in our bull listing. The North American Normande Association had issued registration numbers for this breed that were not being recognized by the CDCB nor the DRPC’s. Their registration numbers are an 8-character number that begins with the letter A. Since these numbers were being rejected by the CDCB and DRPC’s, animal informationwas being rejected by the CDCB and were not being recognized nor receiving genetic evaluations. The CDCB again made the necessary adjustment to the database to recognize these numbers. We also contacted the DRPC’s and ask them to please do the same.
We have been in contact with the North American Normande Association and trying to help and assist them in making some changes in their registration process. They are working towards this.
Next issue with the Normande came about in breed code and composition. When we tried to submit 78 pedigree records to the CDCB database, over 70 of them were rejected. In investigation as to why, it was discovered that most of the Normande animals had been entered with breed codes of AY and MO. Working with the help and aid of a person at the USDA, it took almost 2 weeks to resolve this issue and correct the breed codes.
We have over 300 bulls, (and growing), listed on our website in the Bull Listings with cross reference information.
The Composite Dairy Cattle Registry has member from both the USA and Canada. In August 2015 we had our first International Memberships from owners in the UK. Producers are tired of the “Non-Traditional” breeds being treated as second and third class cattle. While in the UK a couple of the Societies will register these animals, extended pedigree and accurate information is an issue. We have other European Countries that have contacted us with interest in becoming an affiliate registry.
Dr. Les Hansen, dairy geneticist at the University of Minnesota, applauds and supports our efforts. His comment to us is, “My observation is you are making remarkable progress in a short period of time in getting people to think more open-mindedly about allowing the accurate identification on cattle from the non-traditional dairy breeds in the U.S. as well as their crossbred offspring.”
We also have interest from other individuals and groups Internationally in regard to joining with us to provide breeders and owners in their Country the opportunity for registering and identifying their animals that currently is not available or possible.
We are interested in working with other smaller registries. We are here for ALL dairy and beef producers.
In January 2016, the American Lineback Cattle Registry signed an agreement with the Composite Dairy Cattle Registry to process their registrations to its members. We are working to correct the the pedigree information of this breed in the CDCB database and progress continues.
No one at Composite Beef Cattle Registry or Composite Dairy Cattle Registry knows yet how big or how far reaching our endeavor. But since our inception, Composites have a place to call home and we are rolling out the welcome mat.