Young bulls with genomic indices are dominating the latest Holstein bull proofs, with a newcomer taking the top spot, as well as two bulls breaking through the £300 profitable lifetime index barrier on the genomics listing.
DairyCo launched its genomic indices two years ago, which enables a young sire’s genetic potential to be estimated using DNA technology before its progeny are tested. This allows farmers to take advantage of new genetics earlier.
At the top of the daughter-proven list is Ladys-Manor RD Grafeeti, who continues the success he enjoyed as a genomic young sire. As the first of his daughters start milking and enter his production index, the reliability of his index rises to 78% – which means it is still early days for Grafeeti – and his PLI is an impressive £255.
A son of Badger-Bluff Fanny Freddie, dairy producers will have to wait until the summer to gain a more complete picture of his non-production traits, for which there is currently little daughter performance information.
Fellow Danish-bred DJ Zaga also adds daughter information and climbs up to second position (PLI £220), while former number-one sire DJ Broiler now ranks third. A new entry in fourth position is VJ Linx (Legacy-cross Q Hirse), a bull that transmits superb daughter fertility (fertility index +11) and has a PLI of £218.
Second-ranking, Danish-bred VH Tirsvad Goldwyn Grafit is another bull who started its career early based on high genomic predictions in Denmark. His good all-round transmitting pattern is typical of his familiar Goldwyn-cross Oman pedigree, and earns him a PLI of £253. Morningview Levi moves up to third position.
The highest British-bred bull is Cogent Twist, who adds 149 second-crop daughters to his index and confirms his high butterfat genetics with 39.6kg (+0.24%) fat. This Shottle son still ranks as the highest butterfat producer of the daughter-proven bulls and weighs in with a PLI of £244.
The second British bull is the former number one, Ballycairn Oman Pello. Also a production specialist, he remains the highest milk and protein transmitter in the top 100, which he combines with an excellent somatic cell count (SCC) index of -26.
But it’s the younger genomic bulls that are attracting the headlines, with two bulls breaking through the £300 PLI barrier for the first time on the genomic rankings.
With a PLI of £302 is Seagull-Bay Silver, a newcomer by Mogul and out of a Snowman dam from the same family that bred the popular Seagull-Bay Supersire (in fourth place). Predicted to transmit an unprecedented 49kg of fat, with good lifespan (+0.4), he is also remarkable as the highest-type sire in the genomic top 20 with a type merit of +3.81.
Attaining a PLI of £300 and ranking second is former number-one sire, De-Su RB Moonray. This grandson of Planet strengthens his position thanks to an improvement in the index of his sire, Roylane Socra Robust, who has added more daughters in North America to his index.
The third-ranking young sire – whose arrival has been much heralded – is both British-housed and owned. Cogent Supershot makes his debut on the official rankings with a PLI of £290, while his lifespan index of +0.6 is the equal highest in the top 10.
“This is an exciting time for Holstein breeders, who have access to a modern range of genetics through these young sires,” says Marco Winters, head of genetics for DairyCo. However, he warns that there are strong family ties between many of these bulls, most notably through their sires, so each of them should be used with care.
“I strongly encourage producers to study pedigrees carefully to ensure they’re using a diversity of bloodlines.
“Used in small quantities and in carefully considered matings, these bulls have the potential to bring significant genetic improvement to any UK herd,” he says.
Mr Winters also advises producers to add some of this generation to their breeding choice alongside bulls with widespread daughter proofs to give them better predictability to their breeding choices.