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On September 12 The Bullvine broke the news that Sexing Technologies was suing ABS Global for fraud and breach of contract (Read more: Sexing Technologies sues ABS Global for fraud, contract breach), kicking off what has become a much debated discussion in the A.I. industry. This was the first public announcement of a legal battle that has been going on behind the scenes for some time now.

At the heart of the issue are two companies simply trying to do what is best for their business. However, as is usually the case in the passionate dairy industry, routine business procedures have turned into a heated debate.

In 2003 Inguran LLC., which does business as Sexing Technologies or ST, licensed the semen sexing technology from XY technologies who had performed considerable research in the 1990’s to optimize the efficiency of the sorting procedures first initiated in the 1980’s by USDA. The partners in the business eleven years ago went heavily into debt to obtain a license from XY Inc. Additional partners came into the business, and Sexing Technologies started its commercial sexed semen production ten years ago having Select Sires as its first large commercial customer.  The technology has changed dramatically, especially in the last five years. A considerable amount of time and resources have gone into developing new generations of equipment, changing procedures, making media improvements and raising user awareness. For example in the last five years we have gone through five different new models of sperm sorters, each one an improvement on the previous one. Thus, production efficiency has improved considerably, and the end user has benefitted by seeing a significant price reduction in the cost for their sexed semen compared to when ST introduced it in the marketplace ten years ago. Juan Moreno, Co-CEO of Sexing Technologies, (Read more: SEXING TECHNOLOGIES: Gender Vendors in a Changing Marketplace) shared the following stats:

  • 1984 to 2000
    Purity Under 80%
    Low Fertility (below 50%)
    1000 doses of conventional semen would produce 200 doses of sexed semen.
  • 2002 to 2012
    85% Purity
    About 80% fertility rate of that of conventional semen.
  • 1000 doses of conventional semen would produce 400 doses of sexed semen.
  • Current
    93% Purity
    98% fertility rate of that of conventional semen.
    1000 doses of conventional semen can now produce 1100 doses of sexed semen.

As a result of making these leaps and bounds in the efficiency and increased fertility, the marketplace has certainly taken a liking to using sexed semen (Read more: Sexed Semen from Cool Technology to Smart Business Decision).  This increased demand has also led to higher profits for ST and has propelled them into even more significant research as well as very aggressive protection of their license and their patents.  During this time there have been other attempted developments of sexed bovine semen sorting such as Gensel, Heifer Plus, Microbix as well as efforts by Monsanto, though ultimately it has been ST which has prevailed.

It’s these aggressive tactics that are in question in the legal proceeding between ABS Global and ST.   According to Jesus Martinez, ABS Global Director of Business Development “ST’s practices not only limit choices for genetics and artificial insemination companies, but more importantly, they inhibit scientific progress important to our dairy and beef customers” On July 14th  ABS filed legal action against Sexing Technologies in the U.S. district court of western WI, based in Madison. (Read more: ABS Global, Inc., files suit against Sexing Technologies) “We believe it is in the interests of both ABS and the whole bovine genetics industry to have free and fair competition in the market for processing sexed bovine semen.”

The counter suit filed by ST, filed in Houston federal court, claims ABS Global committed fraud by signing the five-year contract, and inducing Sexing Technologies to sign, with no intention of honoring the contract’s provisions. ABS Global breached the agreement, signed in 2012, when the company sought to avoid meeting some of its contractual obligations, the lawsuit claims. Sexing Technologies is seeking unspecified monetary damages and a ruling by the court that the contract is valid and enforceable. “We consider our customers to be our valued business partners in a relationship built on trust,” said Maurice Rosenstein, Sexing Technologies Co-CEO. “Based on that trust and on the certainty that long-term sorting contracts provide, we invest in sophisticated and expensive semen sorting labs on the customer’s premises to provide the high level of service demanded by the larger bull studs, such as ABS. This is a major commitment on our part, and we take it very seriously. ’We honor our contracts with our customers, and we expect our customers to honor them as well,’” Rosenstein said.

What it boils down to is that ST has been very aggressive in their research but also in limiting the development of competing products.  They have done this either by acquiring patents developed by competing organizations or signing contracts with those who  license their equipment that limit them from developing their technologies.  And that is the crutch in this agreement.  ABS contends that the contract that they signed with ST had provisions that would make it impossible for the development of a competing technology.  Something that ABS has now done.  ST contends that by signing the contract they had access to patented technology that greatly enhanced their ability to develop a competing technology, something that ABS did do.  So it really boils down to the fact of determining if  ABS breached their contract by developing their own technology, or was the contract null and void because  it contained provisions that should never have existed in the first place

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Whether the legal proceedings say it or not, at the heart of the matter is the situation where Sexing Technologies, through intensive research, patent acquisition, and aggressive legal defense of their position has developed a dominant position on the sexed bovine semen sorting business.  This has been a lucrative endeavor for ST as they can charge significant premiums for the use of their technology. Anyone who has ever run a business knows that the way to get the highest premium is to have no direct competitors. This is something ST has been able to achieve.  That’s just plain smart business.  Now ABS is trying to use the US laws that inhibit any company from having a monopoly on an industry to declare the contract null and void that they signed with ST.  Again smart business from ABS because they have to do something in order to decrease the expense and the only way to do so is to make sure there is more than one option available.  US laws are in place to protect consumers from being gouged due to monopolistic behaviors. In reality, you can see arguments from both sides.  ABS Global’s contention that ST has a monopoly on the marketplace would indeed appear valid though ST contends that sexed bovine semen is just a small part of a much larger industry, rather than an industry upon itself.  Sexing Technologies’ contention that ABS Global did not honor their contract and as a result had access to their patented technology that then enabled them to develop their solution also has merit.    So this really comes down to two companies who are doing smart business and trying to use the courts to uphold  their position or, in the case of ABS, remove the monopoly they contend ST has on the sexed bovine semen sorting business.

So, when you look at it objectively, the legal battle between ABS Global and Sexing Technologies are good business strategies. The courts will decide the outcome.




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“She’s pregnant!” Those are very welcome words for breeders to hear at pregnancy check time. The ideal is that the pregnancy occurs after one A.I. service in the time period 70 to 100 days in milk, while the cow is producing high volumes of milk, fat and protein. In a perfect world that single A.I. heifer service should occur between 12 and 14 months of age.  Getting to that success depends on many factors, not the least of which is the skill of the inseminator.

Do What you Know or Use a Pro?

It takes a wide range of skills to successfully run a dairy operation at a level that is both sustainable and profitable.  Professional A.I. technicians recognize that many breeders rise to the challenge of taking on this most vital aspect of their dairy business. They realize that many breeders want complete control of the reproduction program on their farm. Dr. Hernando Lopez, Global Technical Service Director for Genus ABS acknowledges that control is important and sums up the breeder perspective saying, “They believe that they can inseminate successfully themselves’. Dr. Ray Nebel, Senior Reproductive Specialist for Select Sires, outlines further reasons that breeders give for doing their own artificial insemination. “They want the flexibility of when to breed. They prefer having semen available from several different A.I. organizations in their farm tank and being able to change the mating right up to the last minute”.  Of course, both Dr. Lopez and Dr.Nebel are aware that cost is one of the strongest motivating factors in choosing who inseminates the cows.

Times have Changed

Thirty years ago there were many more dairy herds and most of them had less than 50 milking cows. Shorter travel distances and labor costs per cow bred by the technician were much lower than today. In that scenario, with only two or three breedings per week, breeders could not become proficient at inseminating. However, with the current average herd size in the US being 187 milking cows, with many miles between herds and with breeders focused on costs, they often choose D.I.Y. artificial insemination for expedience and cost reasons.

Is D.I.Y Really Cheaper?

The monthly bill for technician supplied A.I. needs to subdivided into semen costs and costs for technician services. It’s easy to quote the professional technician’s bill for arm service but expenses must also be pencilled in for the D.I.Y. tech on the farm and for all the costs leading up to the actual insemination.

Remember there is a labor cost for heat detection, including the checking of cows bred 21 days previously. There are additional time related expenses as well.  Time to check computer records or activity monitors. Time to check with all staff members for heats others may have seen. Time to call in for service and time to enter breeding information into the herd records.  Furthermore for on-farm staff there are costs associated with social security tax, insurance, workers compensation, sick time and other benefits that owners must provide.  These time and employment costs are not usually quickly remembered and easily quoted when we sum up the costs of getting cows and heifers in calf. Add in gloves, rods, training and re-training, semen tank purchase and semen tank maintenance and you are getting closer to the true total cost for A.I. Although, at first glance, D.I.Y. seems cost effective and faster, the real question in every dairy manager’s mind should be, “What is the return on the investment?”

Think about it.  In a herd of 200 milking cows, it may take a farm employee up to half their time to monitor animals and carry out other aspects of the herd’s reproduction. Some owners take the next step and assign the farm’s repro staff member to the job of doing the breeding. On the surface it sounds like a cost savings but who covers on days-off? What happens when the farm breeding person is needed elsewhere and he/she does not do all the daily reproduction duties including checking for heats? Only seeing 70% of the heats can soon become a major negative factor for the farm’s bottom line. Missed heats result in more days open, lower daily herd average milk production, more non-productive days in the dry pens and an age at first calving of 26 instead of 22-24 months. Add to this the fact that the on-farm inseminator must be trained and monitored and will need to spend time on skills upgrading and, very quickly, the savings from do-it-yourself insemination are rapidly disappearing.

A.I. Results: Are You Getting Professional or Passable?

Of course, if your pregnancy rate is 23+% and you are meeting or exceeding all your established targets, you can stop reading now.  However, if your results are not at that level, working with a professional technician could be a discerning business decision for you to consider.

Times have changed from when the only service offered by the technician was insemination. Today organizations providing A.I. tech services wish to provide their customers with a full range of services.  Both Lopez and Nebel emphasize that the professional technician becomes part of the on-farm production team, where the goal is to achieve a high pregnancy rate as part of a complete reproduction program.

Dr. Nebel notes that “Herds have gotten bigger, days on the farm have become more demanding, milk per cow has increased and more cows are housed in confinement than they were twenty years ago. These are all challenges when it comes to getting cattle pregnant.” Dr. Lopez also outlines how change is affecting dairy breeding. “Today there is more focus on cow welfare, cow comfort, the successful integration of reproductive technologies like synchronization and heat detection aids and the handling and compliance for large groups of cows. Today successful breeding goes beyond the proper insemination technique. It requires all aspects of dairy management to be correctly working and their needs to be great teamwork.” When breeders work with profession A.I. companies they have access to complete reproduction services including: full cow side services including, walk, chalk, synchronization and insemination’ data entry into herd management software including report generation; management of automated activity and heat detection systems and reproductive consultation.

With all of this potential information and support, one wonders why more breeders not asking for competitive bids from companies that provided genetic and reproductive services to dairy farms.

When it comes to pregnancy rate, whether you are your own professional or hire a professional, you can’t afford less than professional results.

Jack of All Trades or Master of Pregnancy?

Professional technicians employed by A.I. companies breed between 5,000 and 20,000 animals per year. They are continually being monitored for their performance.  As new techniques become available they receive training. Their only focus is on getting animals pregnant. Their livelihood depends of delivering top notch service. Dr. Lopez provides this very sound advice: “Most operations can economically benefit from outsourcing breeding or a total reproductive service to a professional technician not only because of the superior consistent results but also due to all the technical support and resources producers have access to through the professional breeding services”.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Every aspect of dairy farming needs to be penciled out as to cost and return on investment. Every breeder has an area of dairy farming that they like best and do to a professional level.  In the end, A.I. breeding is all about fewer breedings, less semen used, more pregnancies, fewer reproductive culls and the best use of time and services. There is too much at stake to be a jack of all insemination trades and master of none.

Breeders need to be totally objective about every step from heat detection to confirmed conception.  If you agree that insemination is all about the results, then ask yourself two questions, “How important is an excellent A.I. program?” and “Who performs artificial insemination best?”



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Stud Wars: Episode II – April 2014

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Just as we have learned with the Rebels versus the Republic in Star Wars, the Stud wars are far from over.  However, instead of clones we have Genomic Sires versus Proven Sires and large A.I. companies versus smaller organizations.  The April 2014 genetic evaluations have seen the gap between the haves and have nots decrease.  Many of the larger studs that had in the past not focused on Genomic sires greatly increased their genomic offerings and some of the smaller studs greatly increased their niche market offerings.  Stud Wars, like Star Wars, thrive on new releases, talent, unexpected changes and rivalries.



As we found in our initial stud wars (Stud Wars – The Battle for A.I. Supremacy), market share of the pre-genomic era correlates very highly with the big five being ABS, Select Sires, Alta Genetics, Accelerated Genetics and CRI.  Since the last proof run, Select Sires has taken over the top spot with two more sires entering the top 50, and CRI has doubled the number of proven sires they had in the top 50 TPI to move into the #2 Spot.  Former #1 holder ABS Global has dropped from 14 sires to 11 in the top 50 TPI and now holds the #3 position. A sign of the time is the way Accelerated has dropped market share.


Both our previous gTPI leaders from December 2013 have dropped but still hold the #1, Select Sires, and #2 Semex spots on our list.  Making a significant jump on the list is CRI who now holds the #3 spot on the list with 5 sires in the top 50 gTPI.  Also seeing an increase is Alta Genetics who now has 4 sires in the top 50 gTPI.


Select Sires continues to lead the way with top TPI offerings both Genomic and Proven. Making a jump into the #2 spot, thanks to an increase in their top TPI proven sires, is CRI. They are followed by Semex who continues to have a strong Genomic TPI offering.  .



It is no surprise that, for the larger AI centers, the focus on the commercial producer market continues to dominate the proven NM$ list.  Select Sires moves into the #1 position with the two additional sires in the top list, with CRI moving into the #2 position, almost doubling the number of top 50 NM$ sires they have to offer.  Dropping significantly was ABS Global who now finds themselves in the #3 position with 5 fewer  sires in the top 50 NM$ list.


A list that was dominated last round by Select Sires who had 32% of the top sires, now finds them tied with CRI and Semex – all with 18% each.  Also seeing a significant drop in top gNM$ sires is Alta Genetics who went from 9 last round to just 4 this round.


On the strength of their strong proven and genomic NM$ offering, Select Sires retains the strongest NM$ offering in the US.  Thanks to a significant investment in Genomic sires CRI now find themselves with the 2nd strongest NM$ offering.



Probably one of the most significant changes of this proof round is Semex moving into the strongest type proven sire offering in the world, with 5 more proven sires moving into the top 50 PTAT.  Former #1 Select Sires goes from having 18 sires in the top 50 to 11 and holds the #2 spot.


When it comes to the top 50 Genomic PTAT sires, Semex and Select Sires still top the list, but both have seen significant declines in totals.  Many small A.I. studs now find themselves with 1 to 3 sires in the top 50.


On the strength of a greatly improved proven type sire line up, Semex now find themselves on top of the overall PTAT list, followed by Select Sires.  However the ever increasing trend continues where more and more smaller AI organizations have a top 50 PTAT proven or genomic sire.



As we continue to see trends change in the industry, we see the sire line-ups in key markets are also starting to change.  Nowhere is it more evident than in the polled trend.  With that in mind, we decided to add two key niche markets to our stud wars analysis: (1) polled TPI sires and (2) Red type sires.  For both of these lists we are using the top 50 proven or genomic sires.

Not surprising the Polled specialists lead the list.  Followed by Select Sires and GenerVations.



As we saw in the overall PTAT list, Semex and Select Sires continue to lead the way in type offerings.  Also similar to the B&W PTAT lists, we find a number of smaller studs also offering 1-4 of the top red and white sires.

The Bullvine Bottom Line


Holding strong with the best proven sire line-up is Select Sires.  Seeing a significant increase and moving into the 2nd strongest proven sire line-up position is CRI.  They rise on the strength of their significant increase in top NM$ proven sires. Also seeing an increase and moving into the #3 position is ABS Global.  Semex finds themselves with 15 less proven sires on our top lists and drops from the #2 position in December to the #4 position currently.


Tied at the top genomic for genomic sires are Select Sires and Semex.  These are the same two studs that ranked #1 and #2 last round.  Moving up 2 spots from last round is CRI, powered by a significant investment in top gNM$ sires.  Also making a strong showing is the Sexing Technologies / Trans-World Genetics partnership powered by their agreement with the EDG group, who own many of the top genomic females in the world.


Retaining the title of as the strongest overall sire line-up is Select Sires, though it should be noted that Select went from 28% of the top sires in December 2013 to 21% this time.  Holding steady with increases in their proven sire line-up and slight decreases in their genomic sire line-up, Semex comes in as the 2nd strongest sire line-up.  Moving up to the #3 sire line-up with significant improvements in their proven TPI sire line-up as well as genomic offerings is CRI. ABS Global and Alta Genetics round out the top 5.

Join us in staying tuned to the next order of business in the expanding universe of the Stud Wars.

For complete genetic evaluations from around the world click here.


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With each new proof round comes new sires, new rankings and, frankly, new headaches.  Wanting to do more than just pump out the same old lists that really do not mean anything to anyone but the semen marketers, or just promote the bulls from the studs who pay us the most money, the Bullvine took a look at the recent December 2013 Genetic Evaluations to find not only the list toppers, but a deeper look to find those unique sires that will address your key breeding challenges.

Overall Performance Improvement

When looking for the sire that  will help improve your herd across the board, we looked for sires that have a balance of production and longevity, and most importantly a proven pedigree that ensures that their performance  will last. We also wanted great health and fertility traits that will deliver a low maintenance cow (Read more – Fact vs. Fantasy: A realistic approach to sire selection). Here are our top four:

    Socrates x O Man x Manat
    Proven Sire –  Select Sires
    +1464 lbs. Milk +0.12 %F  +87 lbs. F +0.04 %P +53 lbs P 5.5 PL 2.95 SCS +1.95 PTAT +2248TPI
    +1946 kgs Milk +0.41F +116 kgs. F +0.15 %P +79 kgs P +110 HL 3.00 SCS +5 Conf. +3188 LPI
    Long a popular high genomic sire, with his high debut in August and sustained numbers as he adds more daughters, Robust has proven to be a great performance improver. He  is a high NM$ (+765) Velvet-View-KJ SOCRATES-ET (EX-94-GM) son from Seagull-Bay Oman Mirror (VG-86-DOM). He transmits exceptional components (+.12% Fat, +87 Fat, +.04% Protein, +53 Protein) and outstanding longevity (+5.5 Productive Life).  A Calving Ease and relative outcross sire, ROBUST moderates stature and adds height and width to the rear udder.   Robust will work best on tall deep cattle that need feet and leg improvement.
    Bolton x Boliver x Bombay
    Proven Sire –  ABS Global
    +2534 lbs Milk  -0.07 %F  +73 lbs. F -0.01 %P +72 lbs P 0.7 PL 2.95 SCS +1.84 PTAT +2067TPI
    +2978 kgs. Milk -0.25F +85 kgs. F -0.05 %P +90 kgs P +102 HL 2.99 SCS +7 Conf. +2953 LPI
    With so many O Man, Planet, Goldwyn, Shottle, and Freddie sons dominating the lists, it nice to see a sire like RUBLE ranking among them.  The cow family behind RUBLE features five consecutive generations of AI bull mothers. RUBLE’s five closest dams all produced milk records in excess of 32,000 lbs. RUBLE’s grand dam, Bombay Rale was a tremendous brood cow leaving 6-VG & 4-EX daughters in the herd by seven different sires.  RUBLE daughters are moderate stature and dairy. Protect for strength as they can be narrow through the chest. Udders are everything  you would  expect from the two popular pedigrees. High, wide rear udders, smooth blending fore udders, and a deep seam to carry their high production through many lactations. Daughters track straight with a correct foot, though you need to protect for a slight set to rear legs and protect rumps for pin width.
    Mogul x Snowman x Planet
    Genomic Sire – Semex
    +1964 lbs Milk  +0.04 %F  +81 lbs. F +0.01 %P +61 lbs P 4.3 PL 2.68 SCS +3.31 PTAT +2446 TPI
    +2516 kgs. Milk +0.07F +100 kgs. F +0.01 %P +82 kgs P +113 HL 2.69 SCS +18 Conf. +3483 LPI
    Wickham’s high genomic numbers should not surprise anyone.  Coming from the same family that has produced genomic giants, Epic, Emmet and many others.  Wickham is an early Mogul son from the Whittier-Farms Lead Mae family.  Look for Wickham to sire tall angular daughters with average depth.  Expect great mammary systems and feet and legs though he should be protected on straightness of leg and chest width.
  • DE-SU 11236 BALISTO
    Bookem x Watson x O Man
    Genomic Sire – ABS Global
    +1725 lbs Milk  +0.12 %F  +96 lbs. F +0.01 %P +78 lbs P 4.3 PL 2.71 SCS +2.72 PTAT +2424 TPI
    +1923 kgs. Milk +0.31F +104 kgs. F +0.30 %P +94 kgs P +111 HL 2.54 SCS +10 Conf. +3409 LPI
    For those of you looking for a high genomic outcross sire, Balisto can certainly do the trick.  Balisto is the Bookem brother to the #1 gLPI sire in the world De-Su Mg Davinci 11288.  Their dam is the outcross Watson daughter of Pine-Tree Missy Miranda (Full sister to De-Su 199 Chart Topper), then of course Wesswood-HC Rudy Missy herself.   Look for Balisto to sire outstanding components, with solid type and health traits.  Balisto will need to be protected on rumps as he  will tend to have a high rump angle and will be a touch weaker in the loins.

Production Improvement

It might be easy to just take the top milk lists or combine the fat plus protein and say those sires are the best for overall production. We here at the Bullvine would not want to totally forgo type as well as health and fertility, so we are looking for the sires that give you the maximum production gain, without sacrificing everything to get it.  In addition to Robust, Ruble and  Balisto mentioned above, some other production improvement sires to consider include:

    O Man x BW Marshall x Aaron
    Proven Sire
    +2075 lbs Milk  -0.03 %F  +67 lbs. F -0.01 %P +61 lbs P 1.9 PL 2.79 SCS +2.43 PTAT +2109 TPI
    +3059 kgs. Milk -0.15 F +98 kgs. F -0.03 %P +94 kgs P +104 HL 2.67 SCS +11 Conf. +3112 LPI
    When it comes to production improvement it is hard to argue with  Snowman.  While many people are mixed on Snowman daughters, there is no question that they know how to milk.  Snowman is your classic milk bull. He has extreme component yields with average type.  However,  as history teaches us, extreme sires are exactly  the ones that we need to use most in order to accelerate genetic advancement.  While  not high type, Snowman daughters are surprising many by being solid VG  milk cows.  He certainly needs to be protected for fat percentage and straight rear legs and most definitely DPR.  But if you have the high fat percent heifer or cow that needs an instant production hit, Snowman is the man.  Since semen is in limited supply maybe consider a couple of his sons, full brothers SEAGULL-BAY PLATINUM or DIAMOND or maybe S-S-I SNOWMAN MAYFLOWER.
    Fibrax x O Man x Sinatra
    Proven Sire – Alta Genetics
    +911 lbs Milk  +0.19 %F  +84 lbs. F +0.12 %P +60 lbs P 0.3 PL 3.13 SCS +0.91 PTAT +1986 TPI
    +1246 kgs. Milk +0.52F +100 kgs. F +0.36 %P +78 kgs P +104 HL 3.22 SCS +3 Conf. +2918 LPI
    With the exception of O Man,  most breeders would probably never have heard of many of the sires in AltaFixman’s pedigree.  That’s mostly a result of the international genetics marketplace these days, as his sire, Fibrax is from Italy and his dam, FROUKJE 375 is from the Mars herd in The Netherlands.  But don’t let this relatively unknown pedigree scare you.  It is actually based on generation after generation of strong type and production. Although his overall Milk numbers may seem average,  his components are out of this world.  At +.19%F +84 lbs of Fat and +.12%P +60lbs of Protein, AltaFixman is certainly a strong component punch whenever you need it. Type wise look for AltaFixman to sire good all around solid cows that could be protected on median suspensory ligament and body depth. As an added bonus, since AltaFixman is such a non North American pedigree, he is certainly an outcross to most North American cattle.
    Robust x Planet x Shottle
    Genomic Sire – Select Sires
    +2342 lbs Milk  +0.08 %F  +107 lbs. F +0.02 %P +75 lbs P 5.4 PL 2.80 SCS +2.38 PTAT +2413 TPI
    +2586 kgs. Milk +0.25F +122 kgs. F +0.06 %P +91 kgs P +111 HL 2.85 SCS +9 Conf. +3395 LPI
    Of course it’s hard to mention any  production improvement without including Supersire.   This Robust son from AMMON-PEACHEY SHAUNA VG-87-2YR-USA, really is a genomic wonder. Not only does he have the highest genomic values in the breed for production but he also has great functional type and health traits to go with it. Here you have a sire that is 2342 lbs. for milk, with positive component deviations, 2.38 for type, and over +5 for productive life.  Supersire daughters and sons are already topping many of the lists.  While Supersire daughters will not be winning many shows, his no holes type linear has resulted in his widespread  use and so far he has delivered on all expectations.
    Robust x Massey x Boliver
    Genomic Sire – Alta Genetics
    +1603 lbs Milk  +0.13 %F  +93 lbs. F +0.09 %P +71 lbs P 4.5 PL 2.85 SCS +2.41 PTAT +2373 TPI
    +858 kgs. Milk +0.41F +113 kgs. F +0.28 %P +89 kgs P +110 HL 2.89 SCS +7 Conf. +3256 LPI
    Another Robust son that should certainly get your attention is AltaBgood.  While not an international pedigree like AltaFixman, AltaBgood’s pedigree will not spark instant recognition for most breeders.  What you do get is generation after generation of genomic performance that is higher than their parent averages.  While those wanting pedigree power to go with the genomic test may not want to use AltaBgood, those that have confidence in the genomic system should  certainly take a look.  Like AltaFixman, AltaBgood will also sire extreme component improvement (+.13%F +93lbs F +.09%P +71 lbs P).  He combines these outstanding components with a strong type linear and average health traits.  AltaBgood will need to be protected for high pins and dairy strength.

Longevity Improvement

While some would try to tell you that high type equals longevity, that is not necessarily the case.    When it comes to longevity, it’s  hard to argue with actual performance indices like Herd Life and Productive Life.  In order to give a more balanced approach to longevity, we looked at both and came up with the following top sires:

    Bolton x Bret x Rudolph
    Proven Sire – ABS Global
    +1603 lbs Milk  -0.04 %F  +46 lbs. F -0.01 %P +46 lbs P 4.9 PL 2.70 SCS +3.00 PTAT +2267 TPI
    +1721 kgs. Milk -0.16F +48 kgs. F -0.02 %P +53 kgs P +114 HL 2.67 SCS +13 Conf. +2971 LPI
    Another popular genomic sire that has become a mainstay on the proven sire lists is Dorcy.  DORCY offers breeders a little different pedigree with no O Man, Planet, Goldwyn or Shottle  in it. The impressive combination of type and production from his cow family and daughters are readily evident in DORCY’s proof with +1603M +46F +46P +623NM 2.70SCS +4.90PL and +3.00T +3.22UDC +3.07FLC. He has good ratings for all functional traits except for calving ease. Breeders interested in a Bolton son from an outcross pedigree, top notch udders, very good feet & legs and functional traits may consider Dorcy. Dairy Strength and Rump are only slightly above breed norms.  Look for Dorcy to sire balanced dairy cattle that have great udders and very good feet & legs, though he will need to be protected for  fat percent and dairy strength, specifically his body depth and chest width.
    Planet x Ramos x Bullet
    Proven Sire – Cooperative Resources International (CRI)
    +1156 lbs Milk  +0.11 %F  +71 lbs. F +0.02 %P +39 lbs P 7.7 PL 2.76 SCS +0.93 PTAT +2157 TPI
    +1386 kgs. Milk +0.36 F +90 kgs. F +0.06 %P +50 kgs P +112 HL 2.70 SCS +2 Conf. +2853 LPI
    While Erdman is a Planet son, the rest of his pedigree Ramos x Bullet x Brandon actually makes Erdman a relative outcross sire.  His pedigree also demonstrates one high productive life sire after another.  A product of the Genesis program by CRI, he has been built to sire highly profitable (+803NM$) cattle.  While many type breeders will not love his +0.93 PTAT, his 7.7 for productive life (112 herd life), his 2.76 SCS and 110 daughter fertility (+1.9 DPR) will certainly catch the eye of many producers. Expect Erdman daughters to have strong mammary systems and sound legs. He will need protected on foot angle, pin width and dairy strength.
    Mogul x Observer x Shottle
    Genomic Sire – Semex
    +908 lbs Milk  +0.09 %F  +56 lbs. F +0.03 %P +36 lbs P 7.4 PL 2.49 SCS +3.01 PTAT +2417 TPI
    +1375 kgs. Milk +0.21F +73 kgs. F +0.08 %P +53 kgs P +119 HL 2.43 SCS +14 Conf. +3243 LPI
    Fix’s dam SPEEK-NJ OBSERV FANDANGO VG-86-2yr has the rare combination of being high index and from 8 generations of EX behind her (Read more: FERME J.P. POULIN: YOU’RE ALWAYS WELCOME! TOUJOURS BIENVENU!) a testament to the longevity of his maternal lines Combine that with the high productive life sire Mogul and you certainly have an unbeatable longevity package.  Look for him to sire great udders with  strong feet and legs though he may need to be protected on stature for some breeders preferences.
    Mogul x Observer x Shottle
    Genomic Sire – Alta Genetics
    +1282 lbs Milk  +0.03 %F  +45 lbs. F +0.02 %P +50 lbs P 6.7 PL 2.64 SCS +3.12 PTAT +2426 TPI
    +1666 kgs. Milk +0.05 F +66 kgs. F +0.09 %P +63 kgs P +118 HL 2.63 SCS +14 Conf. +3273 LPI
    This seems to be the magic sire stack for longevity improvement.  With a linear that is off the charts and strong production numbers and health and fertility traits, AltaRoble certainly deserves your attention.  A +6.7 productive life, +2.4 Daughter Pregnancy Rate and +2.64 SCS certainly shows that AltaRoble not only has the type numbers, he actually has the longevity numbers to back it up.  Breeders may want to protect him on body depth and teat length.

Health and Fertility Improvement

With the constant improvement in the accuracy of health and fertility  index calculations, more and more breeders are confidently including Health and Fertility traits in their breeding requirements.

    Planet x O Man x BW Marshall
    Proven Sire – Select Sires
    +1416 lbs Milk  +0.00 %F  +43 lbs. F -0.01 %P +49 lbs P 5.9 PL 2.84 SCS +2.64 PTAT +2186 TPI
    +1973 kgs. Milk -0.05 F +68 kgs. F +0.02 %P +66 kgs P +111 HL 2.83 SCS +12 Conf. +3072 LPI
    Carrying the flag and riding the wave of the health and fertility trend is  De-Su Observer.  This sire has been the poster child for high health and fertility since his early genomic numbers came back and catapulted him into international use.  With his daughter performance validating his early numbers, Observer has to be one of the quickest sires in history to get to 99% Reliability.  His daughters stamp out a pretty consistent pattern with strong production and solid type.  Type wise he has actually performed pretty well, with daughters exhibiting outstanding udders (watch out for short teats) and solid feet and legs.  One area you will also want to protect him on is his dairy strength, as his daughters are certainly not deep and could stand to have more chest width.
    Bolton x O Man x Adam
    Proven Sire – Semenzoo
    +1562 lbs Milk  +0.02 %F  +53 lbs. F +0.01 %P +59 lbs P -0.3 PL 2.75 SCS +2.79 PTAT +2072 TPI
    +2084 kgs. Milk -0.05 F +73 kgs. F +0.07 %P +75 kgs P +104 HL 2.76 SCS +14 Conf. +3091 LPI
    With such a push on health traits over the past few years, it’s actually almost impossible to find an outcross sire on the top lists.  If you are one of the few that didn’t go heavy on Mascalese as a genomic sire, you certainly can take advantage of that now by using him or one of his many sons.   Possessing greater conformation than his sire stack would indicate, MASACLESE sires strong dairy cattle that are durable and possess good health  traits.   For those looking for a more outcross sire that is high for health and fertility, try Erdman mentioned above.
    Facebook x Shottle x O Man
    Genomic Sire – Semex
    +1628 lbs Milk  +0.05 %F  +62 lbs. F +0.03 %P +68 lbs P +4.7 PL 2.76 SCS +2.42 PTAT +2348 TPI
    +1955 kgs. Milk +0.05 F +78 kgs. F +0.13 %P +78 kgs P +114 HL 2.82 SCS +13 Conf. +3352 LPI
    This Marbri Facebook son has some of the highest DGVs in the breed. Look for him to sire extreme component yields from strong dairy cattle with great feet and legs. One area to be cautious about, when using him, is his body depth. Both his sire stack and his DGVs would say this area needs protecting.
    Hunter x Massey x Ally
    Genomic Sire – Cooperative Resources International (CRI)
    +1265 lbs Milk  +0.21 %F  +101 lbs. F +0.08 %P +61 lbs P +3.9 PL 2.81 SCS +2.46 PTAT +2401 TPI
    +1474 kgs. Milk +0.51 F +107 kgs. F +0.22 %P +72 kgs P +112 HL 2.78 SCS +12 Conf. +3353 LPI
    If you’re looking for something a little different and an outcross pedigree, try Salvino.  Another product of the Genesis program at CRI, Salvino is a 2nd generation product of this program. His dam’s sire, Massey, was one of the early success stories of this program.  Look for Salvino to sire strong component improvement with a solid type linear.  In a market place flooded with many of the same bloodlines, finding a sire that is a little different and yet still able to deliver top progeny can be a challenge.  Salvino may be your best option for a relative outcross sire that still can compete with the other top genomic sires.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

We have stated it many times. In maximizing your genetic gain, you can’t just pick from the top of the TPI or LPI list.  You need to make sure that your matings are the best corrective cross.  Breeding great cattle is part art and part science. You need to have both parts.   It takes careful consideration and generation after generation of corrective mating to breed great cow families.  That is why, instead of just giving you a list of the top 12, we have tried to provide you with insight into which sires will provide you with the maximum gain in each specific area.

Check out our Genetic Evaluations Section for more information.


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A long time ago in a galaxy far away……Who are we kidding the A.I. stud wars are now and the battleground is the USA, the most lucrative genetics market in the world.  For years I have heard the debate from all sides about which stud has the best sire line-up.  The problem is most of it has been anecdotal and no one has really backed it up with numbers.  So, in true Bullvine fashion, we thought we would bring numbers to this galactic battle.

To settle this confrontation, we decided to let genomics and genetic evaluations determine exactly which stud rules the empire.  Specifically we looked at top 50 proven and genomic sires for TPITM, NM$ and PTAT to determine who are the studs and who are the duds.  The following is what we found.  (Please note we deemed a sire to be available if the had an NAAB Code)


tpi proven siressw

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It’s interesting to see how the percentages seem to be similar to market share, prior to the genomic era.  The big five being ABS, Select Sires, Alta Genetics, Accelerated Genetics and Genex.

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The top gPA TPI sires tell a very different story than that of the proven sires.  Studs like ABS Global and Alta Genetics do not have as large a portion of the top bulls whereas Semex and Select Sires have invested heavily in obtaining top gPA TPI sires.

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When it comes to strength of line-up from a TPI perspective, it’s interesting to see how Semex and some of the smaller studs have made a big push on getting the top genomic sires, in order to have that stronger line-up in the future.  On the other hand, some of the established studs are resting on their proven laurels. (Please note for top list we used the top 50 genomic and top 50 proven sires.)


nm$ proven siressw

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It is interesting how the studs that are more milk producer focused as opposed to breeder focused rise up on this list.  Specifically Genex, Alta Genetics and ABS have their best showings here.

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Even the studs who have not gone heavily into genomics, are at least sampling some high genomic sires for NM$.  When it comes to selling volumes of semen, nothing compares to a high NM$ sire.  Yes the top TPI sires will sell well, but the high NM$ will move in volume as they attractive the commercial market.


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The greatest spread of the top sires amongst the studs occurs in NM$.  This is not surprising since this is such a lucrative market for so many studs.  They all are trying to get the top sires.


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When it comes to the top type bulls, it seems like everyone wants a shot at them.  Type sires are a premium market delivering high margins to the units.  This is certainly one area where type oriented countries and their respective studs excel (Example, Semenzoo and Semex).

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Similar to the proven bull list, this is an area where everyone wants to play.  It is interesting to see that many of the type niche studs don’t have more on these lists.  That could be due to the fact that they are focusing on show type and not necessarily on sires who have high genomic tests for PTAT.

ptat siressw

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A subject of great debate on our Facebook page has been who has the better type sire lineup, Select Sires or Semex.  If you go by the numbers, there is no question that Select Sires has the advantage.  Looking deeper into this, we decided to take the top 5 proven and the top 5 genomic sires from each stud and see whose were better.  Select Sires averaged 4.14 PTAT and Semex averaged 3.72.  So Select not only has an advantage in numbers but also in quality.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

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It’s always interesting when you get into the debate about which studs have the best sire lineup to see the perceptions people have.  Most look at it based on what their breeding goals are and state their opinion relative to that.  Nevertheless there are many that are guilty of looking at things through rose colored glasses for the studs they prefer and hence discrediting other studs because of it.  The one thing you cannot deny is that, when you look across the board,   the US sire line up at Select Sires has the largest market share and are a player in each major market.  Studs like Semex (type) and ABS, Alta Genetics, and Genex (NM$ and TPI) do well in niche segments.

For complete genetic evaluations from around the world click here.


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All Talk and NO Action

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Magazine ads promoting your herd cost a lot of money. So why are you wasting all that hard earned cash with no results? The ads that get the most attention are the ones that are eye catching, keep it simple and, most importantly, have a clear call to action.
Roy - ABS Global

You Can’t Have a Great Ad without a Great Photo

There is no question that dairy breeders love looking at great pictures of cattle. Instead of just a boring side shot, try to get different angles of your cattle. Three quarter rear shots are great at grabbing attention. Show multiple angles of your cow, in order to gain maximum attention.

The best ads use images that are interesting and large! As a general rule, your graphics should take up at least a quarter of your available space and can go up from there. Small graphics are distracting to your readers and do not have enough interest to draw a reader into the ad. (To learn more check out our interview with the best in the business, Patty Jones, about how to get the perfect picture).

Does it catch the readers Eye?

Tha Magic of Francesca

Read more about “The Magic of Francesca

Once you`ve got good photos! Make sure you get an eye-catching ad developed to go with them.  Print ads must be eye-catching and attractive to draw the viewer’s attention.  As Pam Nunes, the designer behind the great Ocean View Genetics ads says, “Remember…the purpose of an ad is to attract the reader’s eye enough to get them to read it…and want more.” (Read more – Ocean View Genetics: The Fine Art of Marketing Great Breeding).

There is no substitute for creativity.  Yes it takes more time and effort! However, it’s required in order to stand out from the crowd.  With the major dairy cattle magazines awash with ad after ad, and row after row, of cattle pictures, you need to make sure you stand out from the crowd.  The best way to do this is to think about the reason why you are doing the ad in the first place.  Who is the animal? What is the message that you want everyone to remember?

The”cow” is the center of your story.  If the best part of your cow, or the point you want to make is your cow family’s ability to produce great udders, then make the whole ad one large shot of her udder.  Keep your ad simple and put the detailed information on your website. Remember you want to accentuate how your animal is different and why they would want to buy your genetics.

Don’t Forget Your Call to Action

Probably my biggest pet peeve in all dairy cattle advertising happens when there is no call to action.  What is the point of spending all that money?  Exactly!  You want them to take action.  That is why the best ads make it very clear what that action needs to be.

In today’s age of the internet and social media there is no need to try and tell an animal’s entire history in the ad.  Instead make a clear call to action that brings them to your website or, better yet.  your Facebook page to get further information.  On those two sites you can have more daughter pictures and the rest of the story.  Breeders love big pictures so why try to squeeze so many shots into a small ad?  Instead give them one good eye catching image, with a clear call to action to come to your Facebook page to see more.

Facebook really can add a great dimension to your magazine advertising.  Recently I saw the following ad by Posal Farms that really get’s it.  It has two great cattle shots, not too much text and a definite call to action.  Posal is really leveraging the power of Facebook and is running a contest where you can vote for your favorite (Posal Daughter Contest).  In their ad, dead center and clear to all who read it, is the call for the reader to visit their Facebook page where they can be the judge.

 The Bullvine Bottom Line

Magazine advertising represents a large portion of many breeders’ promotional budgets. It is no longer enough merely to post an ad.  To attract the buyers you’re seeking, your ad must stand out and get attention.  Most of all it has to have a clear call to action.  An ad that is all talk and no action, results in no revenue.

Want to take your marketing to the next level, download our free guide “The Dairy Breeders Guide to Facebook“.

Want to take your ad’s to the next level, check out our dairy ad design services.


A Wake-up Call to All A.I. Companies

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Lately, there has been a great deal of discussion regarding March 2013 when dairy breeders will be able to genomically test their own bulls.  (Read – How Genomics Is Killing the Dairy Industry)  One thing for sure is that it is forcing many Artificial Insemination companies to re-think their corporate strategy.

Probably one of the greatest areas for executives at the AI companies to look at for examples on how to position their companies is the retail industry.  There are many similarities between A.I. and retail, especially considering the need for product differentiation as well as being a service organization.  Three great retail examples to look at are Wal-Mart, Apple, and Amazon.


If you look at the large artificial insemination companies, you can already see that many of them are heading toward the Wal-Mart model, where they try to offer the highest quality product at “always low prices.”  Companies like Alta Genetics, ABS Global, Accelerated, and CRI have identified the largest portion of the marketplace, the commercial producer.  This is where they can sell the highest volume semen and maximize profit not through the semen prices they charge but rather through how efficiently they can operate.

Similar to the Wal-Mart, one stop shopping model, many of these A.I. organizations now try to be a complete solution to their customers offering such services as, herd health, feed & nutrition in addition to their genetic and reproductive services.

When it comes to their genetic offerings, the key here is that they are selling shelf space.  No longer is it as much about the product they are selling, as it is about the complete package they are trying to offer to the commercial breeder.  That means that they are looking to provide  a consistent product rather than seeking  to have the #1 TPI or LPI sire.  Therefore, they do not have to go out and source the top sires but, rather, they need to provide consistent reliable genetics that can help advance their commercial partner herds.  This means they will not have to get as aggressive on their lease deals and can still focus on their efficiencies and volumes as opposed to the ultra-aggressive sourcing of top gPA TPI and gPA LPI sires.

Once the world’s most dominating retail entity, there is no question that the Wal-Mart model works, Although  it was once believed that only one company could survive and thrive in the ultra-competitive big box store world.  The recent performance of companies like Target does hold out some hope for the many A.I. companies looking to battle for this large market segment.


In  contrast to the Wal-Mart model is Apple.  The most admired company in the world has built its market position through developing, marketing and direct selling their own unique product to what most would consider a niche market.  They key part to this model is having a very clear vision who your marketplace is and developing an extremely differentiated product in the eyes of their customers. A.I. companies that seem to be emulating this model are GenerVations with their work with the Lylehaven Lila Z and Wabash-Way Evett families, JetStream Genetics with their work with Regancrest  S Chassity, and Select Sires through their Aggressive Reproductive Technologies (ART) program, though to a much larger audience that the first two (Read – Select Sires vs Semex: A contrast in Cooperatives).

Similar to how Apple has received widespread criticism for some of their own business practices, companies like Select Sires have received criticism for owning females (Read –Should A.I. Companies Own Females ). Though as the Apple model demonstrates you need to have a distinctive product in order to survive. The biggest thing that all three of these companies have learned is that, in order to compete in this ultra-competitive marketplace, they need to cost effectively source their genetics.  That means producing their own sires and accelerating their rate of genetic advancement so that they can have a product that is unique in the marketplace. (Read – The Genomic Advancement Rate – The Battle for Genetic Supremacy)

There are two main lessons I think many of these A.I. companies can learn.  First always be innovative and at the front of the marketplace.  If you are not pushing the front end of product development/sire sampling, you will fall behind your competitors and get lost in no man’s land.  The second lesson is that you have to control the license to your product.  Apple has never allowed other companies to come in and license their product.  They also did not create the iPhone or iPad and then the next day let their competitors take their products and designs and create their own versions knock off versions.  Companies that did allow this to happen, like Microsoft, have developed much larger market share, but have fallen on financial challenges. For A.I. companies that means you need to control your young sire sampling so that you have the next generation of genetics before your competitors do.  While some would say that is not fair, in order for these companies to compete they have no option but to do so.  While having negative sentiment in a small segment of  the marketplace is not ideal, the risk of not having a differentiated product is a much bigger gamble.

More recently, I have seen the emergence of online semen retailers akin to the model.  Companies like DairyBullsOnline in North America and Dairy Daughters in the UK, are able to compete not on their size and scale, or their own distinctive product (though DairyBullsOnline does have a strong segment in the polled and red and white market) but rather through their efficiencies.  These companies do not have large facilities with great numbers of staff, but rather they are extremely efficient in their operations and source their product direct from breeders or smaller A.I. organizations.  Leveraging technology both on the web as well as for shipping semen internationally these companies are able to operate at much higher efficiency, passing benefits back to the producers and the breeders they source their genetics from.  Despite what they lack in market share, they are able to attract unique genetics through offering seed stock breeders a much higher royalty percentage.

The interesting part about this model is that Amazon was able to stay competitive and fight off many competitors by developing private labels and exclusive marketing arrangements, including being the online e-tailer for many large retail companies.  As many of the organizations are forced to get more efficient will they be able to reduce costs and develop their own platforms that will take away the advantage these companies have?  You can already see it in the retail world with traditional companies like Wal-Mart and Best Buy committing significant resources to their web properties.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The artificial insemination world is changing very rapidly.  While many companies have already identified what part of the market segment they are going to try to occupy, others seem to be taking a sit and wait approach.  The problem is, if they have not already identified whether they are going to be a Wal-Mart, Apple, or Amazon, it is too late, as many of the other companies already have a significant head start.