New figures published today to help cattle become more TB resistant

Published 19 January 16

Marco _Winters 05A brand new genetic index for Holstein bulls – the TB Advantage – has been published today (19 January) by AHDB Dairy. The index represents the culmination of months of research using hundreds of thousands of cow records, and will help dairy farmers breed improved resistance to bovine tuberculosis (bTB) into their herds.

Expressed on a scale which typically runs from -3 to +3, many of the highest Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI) bulls also have a good positive score for TB Advantage (see tables).

“PLI has been a national breeding goal for UK dairy farmers for a number of years and the high scoring PLI bulls have generally come through with very good indexes for TB Advantage,” says Marco Winters, head of genetics for AHDB Dairy. “This is both reassuring – in that it indicates cattle breeding is already heading in the right direction – and unsurprising, since health and fitness traits represent an important component of PLI.”

In fact, health and fitness represent around 68 per cent of PLI, and analysis has shown there’s a favourable correlation between the TB Advantage and general health and fitness.

Furthermore, Mr Winters remarks that the youngest sires with the most modern genetics, on average have the highest TB Advantage, with scores ranging from -2.2 to +3.3 for the actively marketed group.

“This is another positive trend and a further demonstration that progress in breeding is being made,” he says.

In fact, from a complete dataset of bulls whose average TB Advantage is zero, only the best bulls are marketed to UK farmers, which explains why the average TB Advantage for all actively marketed bulls is +1.

“All of this means that UK farmers will have plenty of choice when selecting bulls to breed their dairy replacements, and suggests that the bulls with the poorest indexes for TB Advantage, as with other key traits, will never reach the market,” he says.

However, he is keen to remind breeders to keep any single trait index in context, and to use it only as part of a broader breeding strategy which takes on board all of the considerations which are important to a business.

Furthermore, he remarks: “Farmers should be aware that the reliability of the TB Advantage – or its likelihood of not changing over time as more data is added – is not as high as for most other indexes.

“This reflects the fact that bovine TB is not a problem for many of the countries with which we traditionally share genetic information so we are using a smaller dataset than would be the case when assessing many other traits.

“Of course, this doesn’t mean the index won’t be valuable in predicting future performance and if all other traits are equal, it would definitely be preferable to use a bull with a positive TB Advantage,” he says.

The new index has been widely endorsed across the farming industry who see it as an effective long-term strategy which will have cumulative benefits over the generations.

However, all are equally keen to point out that current disease control measures must continue to be adhered to as part of the UK’s bTB eradication strategy.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Minister of State, George Eustice, said: “England has the highest incidence of bovine TB in Europe which is why we are taking strong action to deliver our 25-year strategy to eradicate the disease through tighter cattle measures, improved biosecurity and badger control in areas where the disease is rife.

“Reducing the risk of disease entering a farm is crucial to end the devastation bovine TB causes for farmers and rural communities.

“We welcome the new AHDB TB Advantage index which can help dairy farmers select bulls for their herd.”

20 daughter-proven bulls ranked on Profitable Lifetime Index (£PLI) showing new TB Advantage (January 2016)  

Rank

£PLI

£PLI Rel %

Bull Name

TB Adv

TB Rel %

Company

GB

Company

NI

1

603

83

KINGS-RANSOM ERDMAN CRI

0.3

49

BUL

AIS

2

599

91

GEN-I-BEQ LAVAMAN

1.6

48

SMX

SMX

3

591

75

DE-SU RANSOM

1.1

43

TAG

 

4

573

73

CO-OP ROBUST CABRIOLET

0.7

43

BUL

AIS

5

570

77

NO-FLA ALTAEVERGLADE

0.2

44

ALT

GG

6

553

76

CO-OP RB OBSR INDY

1.9

45

BUL

AIS

7

546

71

UNITED-PRIDE ERDMAN EVAN

0.8

44

 

AIS

8

545

74

FARNEAR-TBR-BH CASHCOIN

1.8

45

KSS/MOL

 

9

543

72

FARNEAR-TBR-BH CASHMONEY

1.4

45

 

WFE

10=

541

88

PREHEN OMEN

1.8

52

BUL

AIS

10=

541

76

WEIGELINE OBSERVE PUZZLE

0.9

45

BUL

AIS

12=

533

98

MAINSTREAM MANIFOLD

0.6

91

SMX

SMX

12=

533

88

LAURELHILL CLASSIC

1.5

63

GEN

GEN

14

527

99

GRAN-J OMAN MCCORMICK

1.7

98

GEN

GEN

15

524

73

DE-SU RB MOONRAY 11038

0.2

43

CBL

CBL

16

520

90

AMIGHETTI NUMERO UNO

1.3

48

SMX

SMX

17

519

75

MR OCD ROBUST DONATELLO

0.4

43

CBL

CBL

18

512

80

PIROLO SOLEMIO

2

48

SMX

SMX

19

511

85

BEYERCREST RAMOS JOE CRI

0.8

52

BUL

AIS

20

510

88

ABS SIMON

1.7

60

GEN

GEN

 

Top 20 young genomic bulls ranked on Profitable Lifetime Index (£PLI) showing new TB Advantage (January 2016) 

Rank

£PLI

£PLI Rel %

Bull Name

TB Adv

TB Rel %

Company

GB

Company

NI

1

724

64

SANDY-VALLEY-I PENMANSHIP

1.3

41

SMX

SMX

2

683

63

STANTONS CHECKERS

0.4

43

SMX

SMX

3

682

63

APINA NADAL

1.5

43

GEN

GEN

4

676

63

SEAGULL-BAY-MJ SOLARIS-ET

0.9

40

GEN

GEN

5

665

63

TOPCROFT PESKY TRIX

1.5

42

GEN

GEN

6

660

62

PEAK ALTAFIREBIRD-ET

0.5

40

ALT

GG

7

657

62

CO-OP STOIC CAYMAN-ET

1.5

43

BUL

 

8

655

62

JETSTREAM

2.2

42

BUL

 

9=

649

63

DE-SU 12365 ENDEAVOR

2

43

GEN

GEN

9=

649

63

COMESTAR LOIC

1.6

43

SMX

SMX

9=

649

63

BALLYCAIRN DARIUS

2.2

43

GEN

GEN

12

648

63

COGENT PEAK ALEX

0.6

41

CBL

CBL

13=

643

65

DE-SU 11756 OCTAVIAN

1.5

43

GEN

GEN

13=

643

65

ALL.NURE UNO PLACEBO

2.2

43

CBL

CBL

13=

643

64

DE-SU FIREWALL

1.3

41

SMX

SMX

16

639

63

PES009 BOARDSHOP

1.4

41

SMX

SMX

17

638

63

DE-SU 12272 APEX

1.4

41

GEN

GEN

18=

636

63

REQUEST

1.1

43

MGN

 

18=

636

63

MIDAS-TOUCH BULLSEYE

1

43

GEN

GEN

20

633

63

SEAGULL-BAY COLONIAL-ET

1.5

43

GEN

GEN

Key: AIS = AI Services; ALT = Alta; BUL = bullsemen.com; CBL = Cogent Breeding Ltd; GEN = Genus ABS; GG = Global Genetics; KSS = KingStreet Sires; MGN = Mastergen; MOL = Molecare Genetics; SMX = Semex; TAG = Trans-America Genetics; WFE = Western Farm Enterprises; PLI = Profitable Lifetime Index; Rel % = reliability.