Ad watchdog probes Genus bull claims

22 March 1999

Ad watchdog probes Genus bull claims

By Isabel Davies

THE Advertising Standards Authority is investigating claims that farmers are being misled by Genus, one of the countrys leading cattle breeding companies.

Genus has come under fire in the past fortnight for advertising one of its bulls, MOET Martha Franchise, as “one of the top 10 proven sires in the world – ever”.

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But the animal comes a much lower 22nd in the world using nationally recognised rankings collated in January by the Animal Data Centre (ADC).

MOET Martha Franchise had a Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI) of just £117 compared with a PLI of £158 for the top bull, according to ADC statistics.

Drew Sloan, director of dairy genetics at Genus, defended his companys top 10 claim and rejected accusations that the bull advertisements were misleading.

“The ranking is inevitably subjective,” he said.

“But considering MOET Martha Franchise figures of £117 PIN, £117 PLI and +2.05 type, he is a world-class bull by anyones standards.”

There is, however, an industry-wide problem of companies using ranking systems to portray bulls in the best light, said Gordon Swanson, of the Animal Data Centre.

Advertisements from other breeding companies, as well as Genus, should be carefully examined before farmers purchase semen, he said.

Roger Smith, chairman of the National Association of Breeder Services, said there were certainly other cases where farmers are not getting the whole story.

It is not so much what companies include in their adverts as what they choose to leave out, he said.

“I would advise dairy farmers to ask for all type and production information before buying,” said Mr Smith.

“If this is not freely available or included in the promotion, then [they should] think twice about the bull.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture, which monitors semen advertisements, described the current regulations as “out of date and inappropriate”.

The ministry expects the existing rules for advertising to be revoked later this year and replaced by an industry code of practice, he said.

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