New Holstein rankings highlight butterfat, efficiency and fitness

Published 9 August 16

The latest Profitable Lifetime Index (£PLI) genetic rankings for daughter-proven Holstein bulls, published 9 August by AHDB Dairy, continue to show a shift towards Fat and Protein improvers to help meet the requirements of changing milk contracts. A strong emphasis is also emerging on low maintenance costs and longer lifespans within the rankings.

Regaining the number one position with a £PLI of £645 is Kings-Ransom Erdman. This Planet son and breed-leading Lifespan transmitter now scores an outstanding +0.9 for this important trait, equivalent to an extra nine months of productive life. He also shares the strongest Maintenance score of -22 in the top 20, meaning he breeds small, efficient daughters with the lowest predicted maintenance feeding cost, calculated through a combination of stature and other body traits.

As well as leading the proven Holstein sires, Erdman ranks fourth in the multibreed Spring Calving Index (£SCI) rankings, also released today. This underlines the benefits his lower-maintenance daughters, fertility (+12.3 Fertility index) and low SCC score (-20) will bring to spring block calving herds.

New entry in second place is all-rounder Shamrock son Lepacha Loberry. He confirms his earlier genomic predictions with a £PLI of £618, and transmits a nice balance of production and fitness traits with a strong Maintenance score of -17.

Former number one Gen-I-Beq Lavaman moves to third place. Now with 531 UK daughters contributing to his production proof he is the highest ranked reliability sire. He transmits high milk quality (+0.14 for both Fat% and Protein%) and with the best TB Advantage score in the top 20, around 2.8 percent fewer of his daughters are predicted to become infected during a TB breakdown.

In fourth place is another new entry De-Su Rookie 11057 with a £PLI of £608.  A son of Bookem, who transmits high Fat at +37.9kg and an excellent SCC score (-21), he is also the third-highest Type Merit transmitter in the top 20 at +1.81, the highest being +1.98 from other Bookem son S-S-I Bookem Morgan at number 12.

High Protein at +24.2kg and +0.10% help Delta G-Force to number five in the rankings, and holding his position at number six is United-Pride Erdman Evan, a son of the top sire Erdman who matches his sire’s excellent Maintenance score of -22.

Co-op Robust Cabriolet climbs to seventh with high Fat% (+0.19) and excellent direct and maternal Calving Ease scores at +1.4 and +3.2 respectively. This Robust son ranks just ahead of his paternal half-brother and superb daughter-Fertility Index transmitter (+14.5) De-Su Ransom in eighth.

Completing the top rankings are Tollenaars AltaMicro at ninth and Teemar Shamrock Alphabet at 10.

Commenting on the genetic trends amongst the Holstein bulls, Marco Winters, head of animal genetics for AHDB Dairy, says: “The strengthening in Fat kg, Fat% and Protein% scores within the top 10 bulls show the response to the changing milk contracts and will afford plenty of choice to farmers aiming for these traits.

“But notable overall is the quality of fitness traits displayed by the top £PLI sires, in particular in the Fertility Index, which is now having a direct impact on cow fertility in the national herd. The Fertility Index calculation is based on insemination data, calving interval and condition score, and the improvements we see in bulls being used since the index was introduced in 2005 represent a reduction of around 2.5% in the 56-day non-return rate and six fewer days in calving interval.”