From the June Guernsey Breeders' Journal
By Doug Granitz, CEO
Over the past sixty days, I have had the privilege to meet many members personally and on the phone, as well as participate in various association events. During this time, through your generous personal input as well as survey responses, it became clear to me that although articulated in various forms, we share a passion and a consensus around a vision for the Guernsey. I would synthesize the feedback into a Vision statement as follows:
|Hoard's Dairyman Farm|
A world where consumers across the globe love and experience high quality, superior tasting, and nutritionally rich authentic Guernsey branded dairy products.
There is no doubt--We are passionate and care about the future of the Guernsey breed. We love the breed, the story, the milk and the community; and we want to share our story to the world.
In addition, to a vision, we share a common purpose. The great thing about a common purpose is that the purpose has been chartered as reflected in the organization of the American Guernsey Association.
The purpose of the American Guernsey Association is to provide leadership, promote programs, services, technologies and ensure the integrity of the breed in conjunction with state and global Guernsey organizations to enhance the value of the Guernsey breed for the members, owners and dairy industry worldwide.
In summary, have a shared chartered purpose and we have a compelling aspirational vision. The bridge, or link between the two is a Mission. Mission is action oriented. The Mission’s role is to translate aspirational goals into strategies, specific measurable objectives, programs, projects and actions designed to achieve the vision. Mission derives its standing from the Organizations purpose, or reason to be.
It seems clear to me that our Mission is to: Secure the Guernsey breed’s predominance within the dairy industry as a genetically sound, high producing breed and greatly expand demand for Guernsey differentiated consumer products in a manner which delivers premium returns for our producer and breeder members. What are some of the key ingredients, or operational pillars which will translate into successfully achieving our Vision while remaining true to our Purpose and Mission. I will lay out five which I believe are most relevant:
1. Guernsey Branded Consumer Programs: Build Strong Guernsey Branded premium consumer programs in the Specialty Dairy and Foods Space.
2. Genetic Improvement: Continue to build a strong, healthy commercially viable breed with productivity and population with scale-up adequate to support rising consumer demand
3. Operational Excellence and Reach: Extensive network of partner processing facilities and logistics operators to process and convert Guernsey milk and deliver the range of Golden Guernsey consumer products and delivery into retail and foodservice channels
4. Organizational Strength & Responsiveness: Solid, financially sound, member facing organization working closely with State and other key institutions to develop outstanding Guernsey centric programs
5. Breed Marketing and Promotion: Ensuring great seed-stock and breeding programs in place to delivery high quality semen, embryos, and cattle into the market place
Note, that in the above architecture, none are mutually exclusive - they are symbolic. For example, to develop a long term sustainable Consumer Branded program, it is essential that we not only have a capable herd, located in the appropriate geographies, but that we have the operational footprint in place to process, package and deliver the right range of products into the targeted retail and food service channels. On the marketing side, or consumer facing side, it’s about delivering excellence through 4PL—The right Products (Product Portfolio and Range), with the Right Packaging, with the right Price/Positioning/Placement, with the Right Promotion and coupled with an excellent delivery platform.
Supporting 4PL are the key operational and breed performance capabilities. One cannot effectively build a consumer program if these two foundational pillars are not in place. Ultimately, consumer programs must translate into higher returns for all member constituents upstream in the supply chain and consequently higher demand for better and more productive Guernsey cattle.
The Genetic Improvement Pillar and the programs to support the commercial strength and viability of the Guernsey are essential. As mentioned in my first column, the Guernsey breed has declined significantly over the years, and in the past five years from 1.25% to 0.11% percent of the US dairy herd. It is clear that we have a great opportunity to improve our herd capabilities to support a strong consumer Golden Guernsey consumer program as well as other commercial applications. Let’s take a look and our current Breed Scorecard. As you can see from below, we have made some progress on average fluid milk yield per cow. On a CAGR basis (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) we are improving at a rate of 0.6%, but significantly below Holstein, Jersey and Brown Swiss who are increasing at a CAGR of 1.2%, 1.3% and 0.9%% respectively. (Data Sourced from DHIA Annual Report Data)
Let’s take a look at component levels to have a clear picture of the commercial landscape for the Guernsey. Guernsey remains strong on fat levels, and in the running on protein. However, when calculating for producer returns on components (Milk Yield * Component Pricing*Projected Lactations), the Guernsey remains at a disadvantage to the Holstein, Jersey and Brown Swiss.
Reduced returns related to yield levels are are compounded, when we look at some health data. I have pulled out data on dairy transfers to focus in on specific health traits. As you can see below, in some areas the Guernsey is performing well, but in others, such as liveability we have significant improvement to make.
(DHIA Report: 2016)
Genetic progress, on component levels across all breeds on average, has been slow on average and health trait improvements have lagged as well. However, with introduction of Genomic selection tools, genetic progress and improvement are taking place. As accuracy of selection, genetic variation, selection intensity and generational interval improves, breed progress can be made more rapidly. The Goal being to drive genetic improvement in the “production of superior animals that deliver greater profitability” to our member/owners. (The Role of Economically Relevant and Indicator Traits - Mark Enns)
On a positive note, when we look at our Guernsey genetic variation, and ability to have higher levels of selection intensity combined with lower generational intervals, there is opportunity to drive genetic change and improvement.
Our high performing herds are delivering milk yields at over 53% of the current average with strong component levels driving ECM levels on par with Holsteins and Jerseys, and with strong health and reproductive performance. (>22,000 milk at 4.69% Fat and 3.54 Protein)
The AGA is working closely with the Genetic Committee to build a long term strategy to support the genetic improvement of the Guernsey.
In summary, for a long term, successful Golden Guernsey consumer program, in addition to a great sales and marketing effort, we will need a strong operational platform and a strong performing breed. I believe we are on the cusp of great things for the breed, our members, association, and the consumer.
I look forward to laying a more comprehensive roadmap during the National Convention.