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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

DHI system changes with the new year.

Dairy Pipeline: December 1996

by Bennet Cassell
Extension Dairy Scientist, Genetics and Management
Virginia Tech

The new year will bring with it a fundamental change in how the dairy industry evaluates production records. Historically, records were considered credible if they were "official" and DHI had the responsibility to collect the information according to the rules governing official records. This system made DHI the referee in the records business and, unfortunately, the logical target for legal actions by those who felt they had been damaged by the referee's decisions. Such a system is not sustainable in today's highly competitive business climate and DHI had to change. Beginning January 1, 1997, DHI will no longer certify records as "official". Instead, DHI will verify the conditions under which records were collected and provide information about how records were kept by individual herds which choose to disclose that information. Farmers will choose whether to disclose their records for off farm use with one of three available options. "Open disclosure" will provide access to anyone who wishes to see a producer's records. "Limited disclosure" will allow records to be used for genetic evaluations and research, but only allow access for validation of the records or for the above uses. The "no disclosure" option will not allow any access to records for any off-farm use including genetic evaluations. USDA will begin using unsupervised records for genetic evaluations in the Winter 1997 genetic evaluations, with some restrictions for complete and accurate data recording and bulk tank test day comparisons. This will be the first case of an end user setting standards for off farm use of records. DHI information and farmer disclosure choices will enable USDA to decide whether to use records for genetic evaluation or not. In the months to come, all end users will begin to make their own decisions about the utility of records for off farm purposes while farmers will be free to custom design testing programs appropriate for their individual herd needs.

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