Young sires increase the genetic gap with proven Holsteins

Published 6 December 16

The young genomic sires list published today (6 December) by AHDB Dairy provides clear and compelling evidence of the speed of genetic progress within the Holstein breed. With six new entries in the top 10 since the August index run and every one of the top 20 exceeding a Profitable Lifetime Index of £700, it is no wonder over 60 per cent of the UK’s black and white inseminations are now to genomic young sires.

The brand new headline bull for this December run is Westcoast Perseus, a very early son of Penmanship, himself the young sire which held the number one position from December 2014 for 16 months.

Perseus is out of a Doorman dam, and features high percentages of fat and protein (+0.12% and +0.10% respectively), combined with a good Lifespan Index (+0.6) and a high daughter Fertility Index (+10.5). With a PLI of £779 and a Type Merit (TM) of +2.37, this all-rounder is aged just 12 months, while his sire – who still features in the top 30 young sires of the breed – is not yet three years old.

The second ranking young sire is also new to the £PLI list, and the highest ranking of no less than nine top 20 sons of Cogent Supershot – a bull which came to the UK with a fanfare in 2013. This number two £PLI bull is Bomaz AltaTopshot, a transmitter of high production with a noteworthy +41.8kg fat. Out of an AltaEmbassy dam, he has a PLI of £762.

The high type and production transmitter, Endco Argo debuts in third place, with a PLI of £761, a TM of +3.04 and long daughter lifespans (Lifespan Index +0.7). His breeder’s prefix features three times amongst the top 12 bulls.

Fourth position is taken by De-Su 13181 Quantum, another Supershot son – this one transmitting the highest weight of protein in the top 20 at +33.9kg. His dam is by Mogul and his PLI is £753.

The third Supershot son features in fifth position, in the shape of Endco Superhero, whose good Lifespan Index (+0.7) contributes to a PLI of £737. Out of a daughter of Numero Uno, this bull is another high type transmitter (TM +2.86).

Further new entries in sixth and seventh place are Peak AltaRecoil (AltaSpring x Jacey) and ABS Mayday (Tailor x Balisto). AltaRecoil has a PLI of £734 and a Fertility Index of +12.9 while Mayday transmits high milk quality (+0.14% fat and +0.09% protein), and has a good TB Advantage (+3.7). His PLI is £729.

Eighth position (PLI £723) is shared by the highest type transmitter in the top 20 (TM +3.11) in the shape of S-S-I 1stClass Flagship (Alta1stClass x Supersire), and the highest milk transmitter, DG Charley (Supershot x Mogul). Charley combines 968kg milk with good daughter longevity (Lifespan Index +0.7).

Rounding off the top 10 is Progenesis Unicorn (AltaSpring x Tango) who has the highest daughter Fertility Index in the top 20 at an impressive +14.8, meaning his daughters are predicted to have a calving index about nine days shorter than the average Holstein sire on the market.

Marco _Winters 06Commenting on the figures, Marco Winters, head of animal genetics for AHDB Dairy says: “Young sires with figures like this are increasingly out-shining the proven sires which lag some way behind, and we now have 120 £PLI points between the best young sires and the older, daughter-proven bulls.

“Using a proportion of leading young sires will lift the genetic level of any dairy herd, although producers may find prices of some of the headline bulls to be prohibitive. However, they can find over 40 young bulls which exceed the £PLI of the number one daughter-proven bull.

“As has long been the case, I would recommend carefully selecting a cross-section of high £PLI proven and genomic bloodlines to suit your herd, but taking great care to avoid inbreeding by maintaining genetic diversity.

“The Inbreeding Checker launched by AHDB Dairy earlier this year will help identify bulls with outcross pedigrees in relation to a farmer’s own cows and any matings which result in high inbreeding levels are best avoided,” he says.

The Inbreeeding Checker can be accessed here