Breeders reactions range from disaster to told-you-so
UK pedigree breeders are disappointed by the drop in the proof of Prelude, a reliable bull used widely in bull proving programmes.
Leics breeder Peter Dixon-Smith of the Lyons herd has used Prelude heavily and purchased many daughters.
"This is a disaster," he says. "Our Prelude animals will be good enough but wont have a type index of consequence because Preludes own index has dropped.
"All indexing is based on what happens on average and you will get odd animals where this happens. But it shouldnt happen to a bull put on a pedestial as high as Prelude," he says. He allowed for the fact that Preludes index would drop (his herds own Prelude daughters have not performed as well as daughters of the German sire Belt). But Preludes index was so high he thought he could afford to do that. He is concerned that a bull with such a high reliability, that has been pushed so heavily and priced so high has dropped so dramatically.
"I decided indexing had become more refined and accurate, but I now question whether I can rely on ind-exes as much as I thought."
Mike Faulkner of Fielders Holsteins is disappointed but felt the warning signs had been there. "Ifelt Preludes progeny never reflected his proof," he says.
As a result he hasnt used the bull as widely as he could have done but because Prelude was so fashionable did use him on his single most marketable cow.
Tom Cope, owner of the famous show cow Cardsland Eclipse Flo: "I have used Prelude extensively in my breeding programme and have been one of the biggest defendents of Canadian proofs because they have been reliable in the past.
Senior breeding specialist at Genus Bill Foster says that because Prelude has been used so widely the knock-on effect for the whole industry will be significant – possibly wiping out a generation of potential bull mothers.
Genus has seven or eight Prelude sons in progeny testing already and were planning to add another six. These will be slaughtered.
"This emphasises the need to use as wide a spread of sires as possible," he says
"It has been Genus policy over the last year to ensure that no bull has more than 20 sons on test so we dont committ ourselves too heavily to any one bull."