High health and fertility bulls lead proof runs

The first Holstein bull proof run based on the revised Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI) shows rankings dominated by bulls that transmit significant improvements to their daughters’ health and fertility.

The new number-one bull, VH Tirsvad Goldwyn Grafit (pictured right), transmits exceptionally high daughter fertility (+10.5), along with low cell counts (-19), without compromising on milk and milk solids production. Formerly in second place, Grafit is a Danish-bred son of Goldwyn out of an Oman and tracing back to the American cow family Tui Onyx Nick.

At £623, Grafit’s PLI is far higher than cattle breeders will be accustomed to seeing, as the index’s new formula recognises the high financial value of the best genetics in the current economic climate.

Bull proof indexes

Download the full bull proof tables below:

Holstein genomic sire indexes

Holstein proven sire indexes

Other breeds indexes

Spring calving index

Number-two bull Prehen Omen is a complete newcomer, originating from Northern Ireland. Now owned by the McLean family (Relough herd) and from the Dutch Froukje cow family (which has many genomic high-ranking females), this bull is a components specialist at +0.12% fat and +0.14% protein. His PLI is £579 and he is currently only marketed in Northern Ireland.

Another new entry at number three is Gen-I-Beq Lavaman. Having formerly led the young sire rankings, Lavaman has built confidence to come through with high components (+0.1% fat and +0.15% protein) and good fitness on the proven list. His new PLI is £545.

Hammer-Creek O Man Kody climbs into fourth position, also with good daughter fertility at +12.8 and a PLI of £542, while former number-one PLI sire, Ladys-Manor RD Grafeeti now ranks fifth. Grafeeti is the highest type bull of the top 50 sires, at Type Merit +3.34. His PLI is £538.

Sixth ranking Kings-Ransom Erdman has the highest lifespan index in the top 20 at +0.5, meaning his daughters, on average, milk for half a lactation longer (about 150 days more) than a zero-lifespan sire. This Planet cross Ramos cross Bullet benefits from the changes to the PLI formula, throwing daughters with lower costs of maintenance and high levels of fitness. His PLI is £531.

Commenting on the rankings, Marco  Winters, DairyCo’s head of genetics, says: “The subtle changes to the PLI formula for August 2014 have seen bulls whose daughters’ costs of production are low – whether through lower maintenance costs or better health and fertility – move up the rankings.

“It’s no surprise to see Oman [O-Bee Manfred Justice] and his sons playing a significant role in these sires’ pedigrees, as these bulls are renowned for exactly these traits.

“The influence of Oman continues to be felt some 16 years after his birth and as a result, the UK dairy herd as a whole has benefitted from noticeable improvements in health and fitness.”

Genomic sires

The latest genomic ranking features no less than nine elite sires exceeding £600 for the revised PLI and a new sire has taken the top spot.

Topping the list is Apina Norman with a PLI of £635. This Numero Uno cross Ramos excels in daughter fertility and longevity with scores of +12.4 and +0.6, respectively. He combines all this with solid production and high type figures.

River-bridge Co-op Troy ranks second (£621), and is another genomic giant for fitness. This Mogul cross Freddie also transmits high type (type merit +2.69) and transmits positive milk solids.

Third-ranking Farneur Alfalfa climbs from 21st position as a result of the revamp thanks to his moderate-sized daughters that are efficient milk producers and have outstanding fitness and fertility. Trailing by only one point in fourth position is the high type Mr Moviestar Mardi Gras, up from 15th place last time.

With a PLI of £610, in fifth position is Co-op Robust Cabriolet (Robust cross Planet), who breeds daughters with high production and low maintenance cost. He combines this with solid fitness and type.

The first UK-housed and internationally popular Cogent Supershot ranks sixth and is the highest milk and protein bull in the top 20 (£605). Rounding off the top 10 is Ladys-Manor Graf La-Bron, whose PLI is £596.

Just outside the top 10, but highest UK-born and one of the very best percentage fat transmitters at +0.25%, is Willsbro Relief (Numero Uno descending from Stardale Leader Roxy Ex95), with a PLI of £595.

Other breeds

Danish genetics have risen to the top of the Jersey rankings, with VJ Link taking the top spot.

He has an index featuring low cell counts (-19) and good daughter fertility (+11.6), which help to earn him a PLI of £492.

A remarkable five further Danish Jerseys take positions two to six, while there are eight Danish bulls – generally excelling for health and fitness – among the Jersey top 10.

Number-two sire DJ Holmer jumps nine places, transmitting exceptional cell counts (-30) and solid daughter fertility, and earning a PLI of £457. Newcomers VJ Tester and VJ Hilario take third and fourth positions with PLIs of £454 and £396, respectively, while the top five are completed by DJ Invest, who moves up two places (£395).

It’s close at the top of the Ayrshire ranking, with Gunnarstorp moving up one place to take the top spot (£487), just £1 ahead of Pell Pers at £486. Both of these bulls transmit excellent daughter fertility and low somatic cell counts. In third spot, R Yrite drops from the number-one position, although he continues to transmit outstanding SCC at -23 and earns a PLI of £444. VR Game moves up one place to fourth position (£338) and rounding off the top five is Jelyca Oblique (£329).

Langley Evolution moves up three places to take the top spot for the British Friesian breed (£373), transmitting low cell counts (-16) and the best daughter fertility of the top bulls at +6.7. Raheenarran BCG Sochar (£357) moves into second position with an excellent SCC score at -16. Catlane Caleb is a newcomer in third position, transmitting high-quality milk (+0.29% fat and +0.13% protein), while Winnoch Umpire moves up to fourth position (£281). Blackisle Benloyal (£271) is the biggest mover, up from 17th to fifth position, offering the highest type of the top Friesian bulls (type merit +3.12).

Solid production and excellent fertility cements Huray’s position at the top of the Brown Swiss breed rankings, with a PLI of £507, while the Guernsey breed still features Sniders Option Aaron as its number-one sire. For the Montbeliardes, Ballyknock Paul jumps two positions to take the top spot, while Drisgoll Madonnas Prince is the number one Dairy Shorthorn sire.

New spring calving index

The first list of bulls ranked on the Spring Calving Index (SCI) reveals the cross-section of breeds and types suited to grazing-based systems.

Designed specifically for spring block-calving herds that rely heavily on grazed grass and target annual average production of 4,500 litres, the SCI was always expected to highlight the smaller, sturdier type producing quality milk.

At the top of the list it’s no surprise to see a high number of Jersey bulls (eight of the top 10), whose daughters’ generally small stature, good fertility and quality milk are favoured by this new multi-trait index. But they’re not alone at the top of the list, where Holsteins, British Friesians, Brown Swiss and Ayrshires are all represented among the top 50 SCI bulls.


Apina Norman is now the highest-ranking genomic sire, with a PLI of £635.

Bull proof changes

  • Reduced emphasis on milk yield in PLI and more weighting on health and fitness traits
  • New maintenance cost has been included for the first time. Bulls that throw bigger progeny will drop down the rankings
  • The top score for PLI has doubled from £302 to more than £600 to take into account breed improvements. A bull scoring £200 will no longer be a good bull. An elite bull should be worth more than £400
  • Spring calving index for New Zealand-style, spring-calving herds. It is calculated using the same principles as PLI, but there is more emphasis on fertility, less on yield and more on constituents. Unlike PLI, the index covers the whole breed. Elite bulls will be £200 plus.