30 Sires that will produce Feed Efficient Cows

2013ecttop13of2013Commercial milk producers want to breed cows that have high feed conversion efficiency, that avoid culling and that take the least care or staff time (Read more – Feed Efficiency: The Money Saver).  The well known and widely used total merit indexes, TPI*TM  and LPI, rank sires according to which ones leave the most profitable ideal or true type cow. However the factors in those indexes and the assumptions that are made when calculating them do not address feed, culling or low maintenance.   Milk producers are left to fend for themselves when it comes to selecting sires that will leave their kind of cows.

What’s Being Heard

Milk Producers say: “All I want is a trouble free cow that efficiently converts forages to the kind of milk my milk buyer wants.

Veterinarians say:  “Cows must get in calf, have minimal feet problems and must not be prone to having production limiting diseases (reproduction problems, mastitis, metabolic disorders or  ..etc.).

Farm Workers say:  “Sick animals, calving problems and animals that do not work easily within the farm system waste my time.

Feed Advisers say: “Test your forages, feed the rumen, get the most out of your forages and the use of nutrients for both production and maintenance must be considered simultaneously (i.e. medium sized cows yielding the same as large cows are more feed efficient).

Milk Processors say: ”Except for the milk we sell as a drink, we want the solids not the water.

Financial Advisers say:  “Make decisions based on profit per cow, per litre, per hectare, per pound of feed consumed, per worker, …etc.

Consumers say: – Well in fact we may not be listening to consumers (Read more – Milk Marketing: How “Got Milk?” became “Got Lost”)

There are even more voices speaking in producers ears and more words appearing on the computer screens that producers read.  With all the information that is currently available, selecting sires that best meet the needs of milk producers can be a daunting task.

Getting Started

Milk producers do not wish to deal all the numbers that appear on proof sheets. That can be a very time consuming exercise with no definitive answers at the end of it.

The Bullvine decided to research what is available today on selecting sires for feed conversion efficiency, for freedom from major known reasons for culling and for minimal extra care. We recognize that down the road there will be genomic indexes that are based on the relationship between yet to be recorded on-farm cow performance data and the DNA make-up of cows for these three areas. But today those genomic indexes do not exist.

Bullvine Efficiency Index (BEI)

Based on the information from a number of countries that we have been able to access, the Bullvine has developed the following formulas:

  1. BEI = Production (45%) + Durability (35%) + Health & Fertility (25%)
  2. Production = 30 Fat Yield + 50 Protein Yield + 10 Fat% + 10 Protein%
  3. Durability = 17 Herd Life + 42 Mammary System + 25 Feet & Legs  – 8 Body Depth – 8 Stature
  4. Health & Fertility = 46 Somatic Cell + 23 Daughter Fertility + 23 Udder Depth + 8 Milking Speed


  1. Milk Yield is not included as it contributes to more udder strain and added milk haulage or on-farm water removal costs.
  2. The negative weightings on Body Depth and Stature reflect that larger cows  require extra feed to grow to that size and to maintain that larger size each and every day compared to cows of more moderate size.

Sire Rankings

Using CDN’s Custom Index Calculator  the following sires came to the top of the list,


Please note: Due to the fact that CDN’s Custom Index tool only allows quires by Domestic Canadian, MACE and Genomic individually it is not possible to do an overall ranking.

Key Findings

  • Except for the Domestic Canadian list only a small difference exist between bulls
  • The rankings do not always follow TPI* TM or LPI due mainly to the negative weighting on body depth and stature and increased emphasis on SCS, daughter fertility and udder depth.
  • Although Braedale Goldwyn, Sandy Valley Bolton and Picton Shottle progeny are prominent on these listings, they are from different cow families so inbreeding using the sires on these lists should not be a problem, providing a breeder does not focus on just one of them


  • Braedale Goldwyn appears on the listings himself. As well he has six sons on the lists and is the maternal grandsire of three of the genomic bulls.
  • Sandy Valley Bolton has seven sons on the listings
  • Picton Shottle is the maternal grandsire of nine bulls on the listings
  • Oman sons Long-Langs Oman Oman and Badger-Bluff Fanny Freddie both appear on the listings, as do one son and one maternal grandson of each of them
  • De-Su Observer, yet to be daughter proven, has three sons and one maternal grandson on the genomics listing

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Commercial milk producers often want the decisions on which sires to use to be as simplified as possible. That is why the Bullvine has produced these BEI listings. With due consideration to avoid inbreeding, milk producers can expect BEI to rank bulls for them for production, durability and health & fertility with emphasis on the sires that can convert intake into milk production.

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$750 Dollar Semen! Are You Crazy?

When you first read the recent Limited Offering  from GenerVations for Liquid Gold, Fuzion and Gizmo priced at $750 and $500 and $500 respectively, I am sure some breeders will think: “Are the bulls dead? Are these guys crazy?  Are they expecting to get rich?  Who the heck will buy that semen?”

Limited Offering  from GenerVations for  Liquid Gold, Fuzion and Gizmo

Limited Offering from GenerVations for Liquid Gold, Fuzion and Gizmo

What Makes Them So Special?

In reality, it may not be as crazy as some would think.  According to David Eastman, what GenerVations is trying to do here is to give every breeder access to their top Genomic Index sires at the same time albeit at a premium price.  Now you might say that premium is hefty and it is.  When you consider that sires like Numero Uno, Supersire, McCutchen and Cashcoin can be purchased for under $100, the $750 price tag for Liquid Gold seems pretty steep.  Are these sires that far ahead on his genetics? Let’s take a look.

200HO7450AMIGHETTI NUMERO UNO-ET1196960.2530.062.553.172587
7HO11351SEAGULL-BAY SUPERSIRE-ET25241120.08780.012.772.732564
7HO11477DE-SU BKM MCCUTCHEN 1174-ET1488740.08570.052.754.012525
534HO10FARNEAR-TBR-BH CASHCOIN1375740.1490.033.272.922495
250HO1049GENERVATIONS LIQUID GOLD15971020.17800.122.83.482543
250HO1047GENERVATIONS FUZION1355850.14720.122.792.372460
250HO1048GENERVATIONS GIZMO1902800.03690.052.813.372475

As you can see by the numbers above, these GenerVation bulls are not any higher than the current top GTPI sires.  The biggest difference is that breeders who take this offer will get instant use of the semen.   This is unlike some of the other sires on the list that have contract matings that will produce daughters that are 6 months older than the daughters from the first publicly available semen. If you look at the first registered daughters of each of these other sires you will see that they are all for contract matings or with preferred herds.  Instead of making breeders sign an agreement for the sampling rights from the resulting progeny from the selective early released semen, GenerVations is giving each breeder the opportunity to be ahead in the marketing of the genetics they have purchased.

Big deal you say.  Well actually it is a big deal.  In the past, contracts were signed when heifers were 30 months of age, after they had calved, been classified and were 60 days into production. Now high indexing heifers are being flushed at 12-14 months of age. So a six month head start is a big deal!

Marketing Potential

Think about it. According to GenerVations,”Progressive breeders will have the opportunity to access the latest genetics and would likely use them immediately on a variety of mates..”  In other words breeders  get  a unique product and can charge more for the resulting embryos, bulls and heifers. How long would it take to make up the $1,500 (2 doses of semen per flush, though often with IVF it only requires one dose) on a flush?  That’s an extra $200-$300 per embryo.  On the elite females that these bulls will be used on, that is easily done.

Another interesting aspect of this offering is that GenerVations is limiting the semen to North American breeders.  This is more a result of health protocols and semen access than anything else.  Ordinarily, by the time these sires clear all tests and protocols, breeders outside of North America would already be behind on getting the semen.  So it is much better for those breeders to purchase embryos from top North American breeders from these sires.

How will this affect their bull proofs?

With the current  practice of selective sampling of  top genomic sires (selective early release and semen price) the issue of sampling bias will come to light long before any of these three sires get their proofs.  Also, if you look at these three bulls, they are only 83 TPI points apart. Given the current range of genomic sires and where they end up with official proofs, it is hard to say which one will actually be the higher one, once they all have daughter information.

Are they doing it to get rich?

Well yes and no.  Anyone who tells you they are doing it for the good of the industry is blowing smoke up your butt.  What they are actually doing is trying to help the breeders of top sires like these get the market reward they deserve.  In the typical scenario with most studs, this highly valuable early release semen is given away for contracts and the breeder of the sire sees none of this in their royalty contracts. Something GenerVations could easily do since they are a private company and own their own females. (Read – Should A.I. Companies Own Females)

GenerVations is taking it to the other extreme.  They argue that the first released semen  is  the most valuable semen that the sire will ever produce and they are  pricing it accordingly.  Does that mean that after the 6 months the semen price will drop?  Most definitely. But for those breeders who want to stay at the cutting edge of the genomics race, they can afford and pencil out paying these prices. (Read – The Genomics Advancement Race)

What this move also does for GenerVations is that once the market for bulls opens up in March 2013 GenerVations is showing breeders of top sires that they “have other options to maximize their revenues”.  No longer do you have to sell your bulls to a stud where they might sell 30,000 doses at $40 a dose. The GenerVations model is 1,500 doses at $750 or $500 a dose.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

From a marketing viewpoint  there are many aspects to this story that catch my interest.  First that someone has the gumption to stand up and take a risk. Dave Eastman, throughout the years that I have known him, has always been thinking of ways to advance his sire selection programs as well as how to grow GenerVations.  This is just another indication of David thinking outside the box and looking for new ways to improve the system. Simply crazy? Or simply smart? Breeders will decide.

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