Archive for December 2018

Reality Check – Is Balanced Breeding Working?

‘Balanced Breeding’ has been promoted and followed in dairy cattle breeding for at least the past forty years. It is when the important traits that breeders desire to improve are combined in what is called a total merit index. All the traits in the index are weighted according to their relative importance for the breed but not for individual breeders. An example could be applying a weighting of 5% for SCS in an index and expecting that all bulls in the top hundred for that index will be improvers for mastitis resistance. On average, there is increased total genetic merit but not an increase for all trait in the index.

Reality Check Time

Here’s the question The Bullvine puts to you – “Is using total merit indexing (aka balanced breeding) the best way to select and mate animals to achieve maximum genetic gain for profit? It could very well be that using balanced breeding gives breeders false hopes of improving all traits in the total merit index.

Check the Facts

If you say it isn’t so, then do this quick check. How many top (25x) daughter-proven US Holstein sires are above 2.90 for SCS and less than 2.0 for DPR? The truth is that that number is higher than you might guess it to be. For TPI there are seventeen (68%), for DWP$ there are sixteen (64%) and for NM$ there are twenty-two (88%) sires that are higher for SCC and lower for DPR than those levels. The Bullvine chose those levels because they are the index values needed to improve a herd that is average for mastitis resistance and fertility.

Furthermore, it is not just US Holstein sires or US total merit indexes. 80% of the top ten LPI Canadian proven Jersey sires, 60% of top ten Pro$ Canadian proven Jersey sires, 80% of top ten LPI Canadian proven Holstein sires and 100% of the top ten Pro$ Canadian Holstein sires are not rated as significant breed improvers for resistance to mastitis and daughter fertility.

The truth is that, by using a high-ranking sire based on North American total merit indexes, a breeder can only in about 30% of the time expect to achieve meaningful improvement in resistance to mastitis and female fertility.

What does Genetic Theory Tell Us?

When practicing single trait selection, breeders can expect to make 100% of the possible genetic gains from a given sire mated to a given dam. Table 1 shows the possible gain for each trait as the number of traits selected for is increased.

Table 1 – Expected Genetic Response

# of Traits Selected For Average % of Genetic Gain Achieved for Each Trait
1 100%
2 71%
3 58%
4 50%
5 45%
6 41%
9 33%
12 29%
16 25%

Of course, the genetic gain achieved is also a function of the merit of the parents. A sire needs to be 1 Standard Deviation above the breed mean (67%RK) before his progeny will exhibit improvement when he is mated to average females.  If a female in the top 1% of the breed (99%RK) for a trait is mated to a 67%RK sire their progeny will be 83%RK. Some breeders mistakenly feel that if they mate their 99%RK cow to a slightly above average sire (60%RK) that the progeny will retain the breed leading genetic merit of the dam. It just isn’t so.

Total merit indexes usually contain a dozen or more traits and as can be seen from Table 1, on average, for each of twelve traits the maximum gain possible will be 29% of what would be possible if single trait selection was practiced for each trait.

Bulls of the Past

Total merit indexes were partially implemented so there could be one ranking system for animals in a breed. Before there were total merit indexes marketers were all claiming to have the #1 sire – albeit they may have been #1 for type or production but not #1 overall.

Before total merit indexes, sires were known for what they did best – Marquis (type), Bell (milk yield), Fond Matt (udders), Sheik (% Fat), Rudolph (calving and fertility), Duncan Lester (production), Gemini (type), etc. Most often a sire’s weaknesses were ignored by breeders. So total merit indexes were good as they positioned a sire in the breed according to a combination of his strengths and weaknesses.

Dairy Cattle Breeding in 2025

2025 is less than three generations of cattle into the future. Profitable cows then will need to yield more lifetime profit that our cows do now. How will that come about? It will be by having cows that generate more revenue and decrease some costs. For farms that produce 95% of the milk, cows will generate more revenue by the uniqueness of the milk (i.e. %F, A2A2, BB, … etc.) and by reducing costs by having superior genetic indexes for traits like feed efficiency, productive life, disease resistance, fertility, mobility and milk ability.

Future Focused Selection

Selecting for the six cost reducing indexes mentioned above will slow genetic progress to 41% (see Table 1) of what is possible. The best route for a breeder to follow is to identify the three limiting traits in the herd and to select primarily for those three traits. That way the herd would make 40% more genetic improvement for those traits.

A.I. centers are already doing this when selecting the sire that they mate to a bull dam. They identify the dam’s three most limiting traits and find the bull that does the best job of improving those three traits.  They are having excellent success at producing top young sires using this method of breeding. A.I. sire analysts may use a total merit index (i.e. TPI, NM$, JPI, …etc.) to narrow down the list of sires to be considered but they require that a service sire for the bull dam be outstanding (95+%RK) for the dam’s limiting traits.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Breeding for a balance for a host of traits, some of which do not need to be significantly improved in a herd, is not the way of the future. To maximize the rate of genetic improvement in a herd, breeders will need to identify their 3 most limiting traits and then find and use the best sires for those three traits. In the future, focused breeding on the traits needed to maximize a herd’s future profit rather that a balance of traits will lead the way.




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US December 2018 Genetic Evaluations – Highlights

For most breeders, finding all the different lists, and having the time to sort out what’s what is just not something you have time for.  That is why we here at the Bullvine have done the work for you.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Genomic Sires >12 Months
    • PINE-TREE LEGACY (Frazzled x Yoder x Liquid Gold) from the Coyne-Farms Yelena Cri-ET family (Dam of Co-Op Bosside Massey) LEGACY holds on to the #1 position at +2949. He is +172 for combined Fat and Protein and over 1 point for PTAT and UDC. He is also the #1 NM sire over 12 months of age.
    • MR DYNASTY NASHVILLE (Dynasty x Nominee x Robust) grandson of Miss Ocd Robst Delicious-ET VG-87 GMD DOM (Dam of Mega-Duke, Delta, Denver, Draco, Delco and more) remains the #2 sire at +2944. Over +2000 lbs of milk, positive components and type scores.
    • New to the top 5 sires at +2919 is OCD PINNACLE DIESEL (Pinnacle x Draco x McCutchen) from the Windsor-Manor Rud Zip TV TL EX-95 3E GMD DOM cow family. Diesel is positive components with high type and good fertility.
    • OUR-FAVORITE UPGRADE (Crush x Atwood x Shottle) is the #1 PTAT sire over 1 year of age at +4.59. From the Our-Favorite Conceited TV TL EX-92 3E GMD DOM cow family UPGRADE is over 2 points on all composites and positive components, DPR and PL.
    • BOMAZ ALTADELSON P (AltaRobson x Delta x Numer Uno) from the Bomaz Garter 2796-ET TL VG-88 GMD DOM cow family is the #1 polled sire over 1 year of age in the world at +2801.
  • Proven Sires
    • EDG RUBICON (Mogul x Robust x Planet) remains the #1 proven sire at +2824. His dam is Sandy-Valley Robust Ruby-ET (EX-90), a 7th gen VG/EX from the EX-95 Dellia family. He is the #1 for FAT sire (+121), and #2 NM sire (+972) and #2 Grazing Merit sire (+890) and is +2.13T. RUBICON is one of four Mogul sons in the Top 10 and has 6 sons himself over +2800G. Of interesting note is that in the Top 10 proven TPI sires, Robust x Planet appears 4 times in the MGS x MGGS column – but Rubicon is the only one not from Robst Delicious.
    • MR MCCUT DANTE 1407 (McCutchen x Robust x Planet) moves ahead of UECKER SUPERSIRE JOSUPER (Supersire x Beacon x Jango) for the #2 spot. DANTE is a McCutchen brother to Delta & Denver from Robst Delicious. He is also the highest ranked A2A2 bull available, with Denver being the only other A2A2 bull in the Top 10.
    • S-S-I MONTROSS DUKE (Montross x Supersire x Snowman) from the Roylane Shot Mindy 2079-ET VG-86 DOM, DUKE is the highest newly proven sire at +2747 and #5 on the high ranking sire report.
    • DYMENTHOLM MR APPLES AVALANCHE (McCutchen x Regiment-Red x Durham) from the Apple clone is now the #1 proven type sire.
    • VIEW-HOME POWERBALL-P (Earnhardt x Robust x Zenith) remains the #1 proven polled sire in the world at +2494.

US Genetic Evaluation Lists

“Delta” Continues to Lead for Both Pro$ and LPI – Canadian Genetic Evaluation Highlights 12/18


For the second proof run in a row, Mr Mogul Delta 1427-ET maintains a hold on his position as the breed leader for both Pro$ and LPI (#4 Fat). Of the newly proven bulls this round, two rank among the Top 10 for Pro$. Boldi Accurate, a Vieuxsaule Flame-ET son out of Velthuis Supersonic Alyssa, is the highest newly proven Pro$ sire taking #5 spot (#35 LPI). His full brother, Boldi Andre, is this round’s highest newly proven sire for LPI grabbing #11 position (#61 Pro$). Bryceholme Brodie-ET, a Supersire son out ofMarbri Oman Oman Bea, is the second highest newly proven bull for both Pro$ and LPI,ranking #7 and #18 respectively (#6 Milk, tied #9 Protein).

Pro$ has now been available for over three years. Over time, it has become evident that certain bloodlines are pushing the two top lists to gradually become more diverse. This December, along with #1 sire Delta, only two other proven sires rank among the Top 10 for both national indexes. Ranking #2 for both LPI and Pro$, as well as being tied at #3 for Protein, is the previously proven Glen-D-Haven AltaHotrod (Jerod x AltaIota). Synergy AltaParquet-ET (Numero Uno x Planet) takes a jump up both lists this December, landing at #4 LPI and #6 Pro$.

Other previously proven bulls ranking among the Top 10 for Pro$ this round include Seagull-Bay Sargeant-ET (#3 Pro$, #2 Milk, #107 LPI), Mr Coin Draco 15006-ET (#4 Pro$, #43 LPI), De-Su Mickelson 11598-ET (#8 Pro$, #49 LPI) and View-Home Day Missouri-ET (#9 Pro$, #26 LPI, #2 Protein, #7 Milk). After improving his rank substantially since the August proofs, Boldi V Armour, a maternal brother to the previously mentioned leading newcomers, Accurate and Andre, rounds out the Top 10 Pro$ list in #10 position (#39 LPI).

Following the two breed leaders for LPI this round, Delta and AltaHotrod, is EDG Rubicon (Mogul x Robust) in #3 spot (#25 Pro$), who also stays firm at #2 in the breed for Fat. Three other bulls maintain their elite status on the Top 10 LPI list from last round, namely Comestar Lautrust, at #5 LPI (#28 Pro$), Gillette Byroad (#6 LPI, #78 Pro$) and Mapel Wood Brewmaster (#7 LPI, #24 Pro$), who maintains his position as the breed leader for Fat. Completing the Top 10 LPI list are three sires that improve their rank to secure them a place among the Top 10 this round. These include Lone-Oak-Acres AltaRoble-ET (#8 LPI, #73 Pro$, tied #6 Conformation, Mogul x Observer), Co-op Renegade-ET (#9 LPI, #102 Pro$, McCutchen x G W Atwood) and Regel AltaToprock (#10 LPI, #47 Pro$, Shamrock x Million).

Other noteworthy news this round is the arrival of Bovo Bomba (Doorman x Super) as a newly proven sire that reaches #1 Conformation at +16, to be tied with Velthuis SGC Atmost, as well as the increase of 10 kg for Protein for the polled sire, View-Home Powerball-P-ET (Earnhardt x Robust), to become the new breed leader.

Ample Diversity Among Newly Proven Bulls in the Top 50

Outside of the newly proven sires already mentioned, there are eight other impressive newcomers that make their debut among the Top 50 for Pro$ and/or LPI. One bull manages to reach this status for both national indexes as Bomaz AltaSabre-ET (Jacey x Robust) arrives at #34 LPI and #35 Pro$. Two other sires, both out of dams by Epic, rank well for Pro$ as Boldi V Astrolab (Jabir son out of Boldi V S G Epic Aster) takes #15 Pro$ (#53 LPI) and Seric Rico (Jacey son out of Seric Epic Mayana) enters at #34 Pro$ (#77 LPI). Other sires with an interesting start for Pro$ are Crasdale Blondin BH Mars-ET, who is a Cashcoin son out of Sully Numero Uno Maribel-ET that receives his first official proof at #42 Pro$ (#57 LPI), as well as Mr American Daft Punk-ET (Day x Robust), debuting tied at #44 Pro$ (#88 LPI). Finishing off the newcomers that pentrate the Top 50 LPI list this round are Bacon-Hill Pety Modesty-ET (Pety x Supersire), who is tied at #40 LPI (#81 Pro$) and EDG Saturn Sender 8136-ET (Mogul x Man-O-Man) at #45 LPI (#182 Pro$).

Top GLPI and Pro$ Lists Each Welcome a Newly Indexed Cow

This December release sees one newly indexed cow enter each list of Top 10 Pro$ and Top 10 GLPI, and both are sired by AltaHotrod. Peak Loyal Hrod 60124-ET, who is out of Mapel Wood McCutchen Loyality, debuts at #5 Pro$ (#17 GLPI), while Progenesis Hotrod Mia (dam is Woodcrest Def Manhattan-ET) arrives tied at #9 GLPI (#18 Pro$).

Four previously indexed cows rank among the Top 10 for both GLPI and Pro$. Three of these impressive animals carry the “Stantons” prefix and are sired by “Delta”. Leading the GLPI list again this December is Stantons Does Appear-ET (#1 GLPI, #7 Pro$). Stantons Bee Desired-ET stays firm in her #1 rank again this round for Pro$ in addition to being #2 GLPI (tied #10 Fat). Stantons Delta Approved-ET, full sister to Stantons Does Appear-ET (dam is Stantons Cameo Appearance), holds steady among the Top 10 for each list at #4 Pro$ and #5 GLPI. The fourth cow to penetrate both Top 10 charts is Dudoc Superman Somnanbule, tied at #3 GLPI and #9 Pro$, who’s dam is Dudoc McCutchen Rancune P*POC (#16 GLPI, #44 Pro$).

Three other daughters of Rancune*POC also all manage to maintain their Top 10 status for either index as Dudoc Silver Sarcasme*POC is tied at #3 GLPI (#12 Pro$), Dudoc Boastful Blaspheme takes #8 Pro$ and #9 GLPI, and Dudoc Missouri Menace-P*POR at #8 GLPI and #10 Pro$. Benner Octoberfest Jingko moves up from #4 to #2 Pro$ this round and ranks #14 GLPI. Stantons Bee Daisy-ET, full sister to the previously mentioned Stantons Bee Desired-ET (Delta daughters out of Ri-Val-Re Num Uno Bee- ET), now occupies #3 Pro$ (#13 GLPI), while Silverridge V Sshot Erynne moves up to #6 Pro$ (#20 GLPI) and is tied at #6 for Protein in the breed.

The list of Top 10 GLPI cows is completed by four previously indexed cows including two with very little change from August, namely Stantons Silver Emoticon-ET (#6 GLPI, #16 Pro$) and Stantons Real Dollars-ET (#8 GLPI, #15 Pro$). Two others, however, both daughters of Rubicon, take a jump up the GLPI list this round, namely Lindenright Rubicon Moofia (#7 GLPI from #21, #266 Pro$) and Stantons Rubicon Cranking Up (tied at #9 GLPI from #20, #54 Pro$). A final noteworthy newly indexed cow this round is Lima Biscuit Doorman (Doorman x Lima Biscotti Dempsey), who ties with Brenland Doorman Desirable and Sunnypoint 2024 Lady D as the #1 cow for Conformation at +17.

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