Frequently Asked Questions
Can aAa® be used by crossbreeders or graziers?
aAa® Animal Analysis looks at the same patterns of form and function in cattle breeds worldwide, so it can be easily used with any breeding or crossbreeding program. Dairy breeders crossbreed for many reasons – to improve herd health, increase components, improve fertility, improve calving ease, reduce inbreeding, or for better adaptation to specific environmental conditions. Improving the form and function of a herd with aAa® may be another alternative for those who turn to crossbreeding to find solutions to functional problems such as difficult calving or inability to maintain body condition on forage.
Some dairy breeders have noted that different kinds of cows do better in different types of environments. Cows from commercial herds may fail to thrive in a low-grain, grazing environment, and cows from grazing herds may fail to meet production goals in a high-input/high-output environment. This happens because cows whose form is extreme in specific ways may lack the ability to function in specific situations. The best functioning cows in any management environment are free from extremes and have a balance of all six aAa® qualities. Many graziers have found that aAa® helps them maintain the balance between cows that are “too round to milk” and “too sharp to stay healthy”.
Is there a way to tell if a bull is a good source of his aAa® numbers?
aAa® users often ask if there is way to tell to what degree a bull possesses or sires a certain aAa® number. We do not evaluate how “well” a bull sires his aAa® number qualities. Experienced aAa® users find they achieve the best results by choosing good, balanced bulls. Bulls that possess one or more aAa® number qualities to an extreme degree often lack other qualities to an extreme degree. The most functional cows possess all six aAa® qualities at a high level. In order to produce balanced, functional offspring, all six aAa® number qualities must come from either the cow or the bull in a mating. A good, balanced bull contributes more qualities to a mating than he asks the cow to contribute. Using extreme bulls, especially on extreme cows, can lead to inconsistent and disappointing results.
Do I need to keep dozens of bulls in my tank to use aAa®?
Some aAa® users actually find they use fewer bulls after adding aAa® to their breeding program. Because aAa® looks at the way all body parts are interrelated in order to find solutions to the causes of a cow’s problems, it is easier to choose bulls with the aAa® numbers your cows need than to choose bulls by looking at many separate linear evaluation criteria such as udder height, udder width, udder depth, udder attachment, udder cleft, udder tilt, etc. The “aAa® Use Made Simple” spreadsheet can help aAa® users breed their entire herd using as few as 8 different bulls of their choosing.
Why do a cow’s or bull’s aAa® numbers sometimes change upon review?
aAa® approved analyzers do their best to predict the way an animal will develop as she matures. The natural patterns described by aAa® numbers can be seen even in young animals, but it may not be clear yet in a young animal where problems in form and function will occur. For example, legs and feet do not fail until a cow approaches her mature weight. Udder structures do not fail until they are under the stress of milk production.
Many aAa® customers have yearling heifers analyzed in order to have this information available before their first breeding, then have their analyzer review the animals’ aAa® numbers once they are fresh and have reached full maturity. Most often the aAa® numbers do not change upon review, but sometimes the order of the numbers may change. The same principles are true of bulls as their bodies mature.