meta Which Full Sister Do I Buy? :: The Bullvine - The Dairy Information You Want To Know When You Need It

Which Full Sister Do I Buy?

It used to be that when you went to a high quality sale you looked the animals over and selected one or two that would most help your herd and were within your price range. That was when a cow produced one calf every thirteen months and proven A.I. sires stayed in vogue for half a decade. Well that was yesteryear and yesteryear is behind us now.

What do you do today if there is a choice of three high genomic full sisters in a sale? To become the successful buyer here is what do you need to do?

Homework Required

Very definitely before going to the sale you need to research the national data file to get the facts. Don’t get only the pedigree but also the dam’s performance, the sire’s indexes, the number of and indexes of the siblings. And it does not stop there. You need to decide if the animal you may buy will give you the opportunity to achieve your goal. Bidding without having a goal and plan and knowing the facts is dangerous. Not physically dangerous, but dangerous from an investment point of view. This homework will pay big dividends in time.

Step One – The Plan

Decide what your plan or goal is in buying.  Do you want the animal for improving your herd, for breeding top indexing progeny, for selling embryos … etc? You decide. Play it as if you are the manager of a major league baseball team. Will your decision on the player’s contract (aka animal) you purchase enhance your team’s chances of winning the World Series? I always admire how cool and confident 99% of the baseball managers are. They have a plan for the game and for the year and they stick to it.

In setting your plan, you will need to decide which piece of information is most important for you. Is it TPI, LPI or NM$? Or does the pedigree have cow family or show appeal? Or is it high genetics for Health & Fertility or longevity that you want to add to your herd? Are there any minimum index values that you will not go below when purchasing? Does the conformation of the animal you are purchasing matter? Be fully prepared.

Step Two – Know the General Sales Details

Check out on-line or using a hard copy catalogue what is listed about the sale lot. And what the terms are for payment. Very definitely you need to know the animal’s health & vaccination status. In the future we will need to know the health status of all animals at the sale. As biosecurity and the health status of animals is becoming more important every day. The Bullvine strongly suggests that you wear clean clothes to the sale and most definitely clean footwear or plastic boots over your footwear. We can’t be too clean.

Canadian Dairy Network - Progeny List 2013-08-15 08-16-07Step Three – Check Every Animal Detail

Now it is time to get down to the nitty gritty details.

Check to make sure you know if the sire stack and the cow family qualify according to your plan. If you are looking for something novel or non-inbred, make sure those criteria are met. Do an extensive check of all the dam’s progeny. Are there other full sisters not offered in the sale and what are their indexes? You do not want to have a choice of the three poorest full sisters with the seller having the best ones that will be competing with you for selling embryos. Also check out the half sibs for their genomic indexes. They may be high and the competition for selling embryos.  Check not only the performance of the parents but also the gTPIs or gLPIs.  Personally I like to carefully review the DGVs (Direct Genomic Values) of the sisters and compare them. DGVs are the basis on which every animal’s index is built.

If you are wanting to operate in the elite of the Holstein breed, you will need to be thinking of only buying animals over 2400 gTPI, over 3000 gLPI or over 700 NMS, over 2.0 PTAT / +9 CONF, below 2.90 SCS, above 3 Productive Life / 108 Herd Life and above 1.0 Daughter Pregnancy rate / 105 Daughter Fertility for black and white horned animals. As yet few if any polled or red animals have reached these levels but it will not be long before that occurs.

Step Four – At the Sale

Now you are ready to attend the sale with your research file and chequebook in hand. Remember the clean clothes and footwear. Do a thorough inspection of all of the full sisters present. Try to imagine what they will look like as they grow. Will they make at least GP83 and 9,000 kgs in their first lactation? We all know that heifers go through many stages before they calve but feet, legs, stature/mass, strength of topline, pin setting,… are all body parts that can be judged at any stage of life. Make sure you ask for any updates to the catalogued information. Often those details are crucial when you are deciding to bid or not or what level you are prepared to bid to.


Everyone has their own techniques they use when bidding. Some want to know who they are bidding against. Others like to bid quickly or slowly.  There are almost as many techniques as there are bidders. Do whatever works for you.


While at the sale make sure you network with breeders and marketers.


International Intrigue 2013

In preparing for this sale Lot 2 stood out for me. It was a choice of three Cashcoin females from the Lot #1 MS C-Haven Oman Kool, a high indexing fresh VG87 first lactation Man-O-Man and the #2 protein cow in North America. The sire stack was Cashcoin x Man-O-Man x Shottle x BW Marshall x Patron x Aerostar. All well respected sires. These three full sisters were very early Cashcoins. The indexes were not in the catalogue as the calves were very young but it was reported that the genomic information would be available on sale day. My last minute research before leaving for the sale showed that there were about seven Cashcoin x Kool daughters but none had genomic results in the CDN data system. As you would expect all seven have exactly the same PA LPI when I looked them up.

MS C-Haven Oman Kool  VG-87-2YR

MS C-Haven Oman Kool VG-87-2YR

When I got to the sale Kool was there and she looked awesome – what a mammary system and she was milking 111 lbs per day. However the calves were not present being less than two months old and likely not old enough to be health tested to enter Canada. The genomic information was available and they very very similar and high. The ranges in indexes were gTPI 2418 to 2426, gLPI 3357 to 3413, NMS 789 to 809, Productive Life 4.8 to 6.2,  DPR 0.2 to 0.9 and PTAT 2.72 to 3.00. The update sheet said the buyer would get the 2nd choice from the three. I wondered how these three compared to the other four. I tried logging into CDN and find out the DVGs for the other four but I could not find out that information. The question, at sale time, being would potential buyers have enough facts to feel confident to bid, knowing that these three were like peas in a pod for their indexes but where did they rank compared to the other four. I had done my homework but would have liked to know more.

MS C-Haven Oman Kool VG-87-2YR

MS C-Haven Oman Kool VG-87-2YR

Since the sale I have done some checking and I found that the three offered were #3, #4 and #5 based on gLPI of the Cashcoin x Kool daughters. All are within 46 gLPI of each other.  The second choice of these three is only 120 LPI behind the #1 and 62 LPI behind the #2.  Of course the end to the story has not been written and I do not know which of these three full sisters the buyer took. But I know how the calculation formula for  gLPI indexes works and with all seven of the Cashcoin x Kool daughters so close it will depend very much on their own performance as cows that will identify which one is the best.  The buyer likely made a very good decision having paid the very reasonable sum of $18,000 for the second choice of the three offered at the sale.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

In general full sister are not as close as the three Cashcoin x Kool’s above. Often there is clearly one that stands out.  The key is to do your homework and the vast majority of the time you will get an animal that will fulfill your needs.  Buying on genomics indexes is quite accurate and it will become more accurate as more animals are genomically tested and then performance tested. It is quite simple in the end. Buy the sister that most closely meets your needs.



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