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Archive for Infertility

In our recent article, Fact vs. Fantasy – A realistic approach to sire selection, we highlighted the need to choose sires not just on ideal conformation goals, but to also match your sire selection to the key management challenges your herd faces. In typical Bullvine style we wanted to take this one step further and to go from fantasy to reality and identify just what sires will help address these top culling issues.

The Bullvine’s Realistic Approach:  Breed to Minimize Your Profit Thieves

In the previous article, we recommended minimum sire proof levels for total index, female fertility, somatic cell score and feet & legs in both the US and Canadian genetic evaluation systems.  Since we only have access to DGVs from CDN, all values quoted in this article will be in Canadian terms.

Some considerations set for sires to qualify for consideration are worth repeating:

  1. A minimum LPI/TPI value (+2000) was set to address the problem of cows being culled for low   production;
  2. Sires had to be on an active marketing list of a North American AI organization; and
  3. Sires with only genomic evaluations had to have been born in 2011 or, in other words, they are in the initial stages of their sampling time.

Just a reminder of the minimum values The Bullvine set for bulls to be considered.

  • Lifetime Profit Index    > +2000
  • Daughter Fertility       > 100
  • Somatic Cell Score       < 2.90
  • Feet & Legs                 > +5

INFERTILITY: You can’t make milk if you can’t make calves

Breeders know that there is a difference in bulls’ daughters’ ability to become pregnant.  It’s probably one of the most important profit metrics on most herds. This is measured as Daughter Fertility in Canada and Daughter Pregnancy Rate in the USA.  This information has been available for some time, yet it still seems to be given little heed when sires are selected for use in A.I. and herds.

The Bullvine offers the following sires for use by herds wishing to genetically address infertility.

GENOMICALLY EVALUATED SIRES: ranked by DGV Daughter Fertility Index

  • 111      Ever-Green-View FONSY (Super x Shottle)
  • 110      Brant-View ALTAOTIS (Observer x Active)
  • 110      Latuch Trigger TREK (Trigger x Ramos)
  • 109      Rosylane-LLC JOSIAH (Jives x Ramos)
  • 109      Blue-Horizon ALATASUPLEX (Super x Planet)

DAUGHTER PROVEN SIRES: ranked by Daughter Fertility Index

  • 110      Badger-Bluff Fanny FREDDIE (Oman x Die-Hard)
  • 107      Synergy ALTAJENKINS (Mac x Shottle)
  • 107      Mainstream MANIFOLD (Oman x Marshall)
  • 107      Co-op Oman CAVANA (Oman x Hunter)
  • 106      Crackholm FEVER (Goldwyn x Blitz)

MASTITIS – a bane to producing high quality milk

No producer wants mastitis, the cost of loosing a valuable cows, or the possibility of having a tanker load of milk lost due to antibiotics in the load. Additionally milk producers don’t want their vet visit time consumed with mastitis problems. Can mastitis be lowered by using genetic evaluations?  “Yes!” claim many producers who know from experience that the daughters of bulls with an SCS over 3.10 are problems.  Sure, they may be fine in their first lactation but in later lactations they are usually more prone to mastitis.  The Bullvine offers the following sires for use in herds that wish to avoid mastitis, as much as possible:


  • 2.22     Coyne-Farms JACY (AltaIota x Massey)
  • 2.32     Welcome ADOLF (Shameless x Ramos)
  • 2.40     Oconnors BAROMETER (Garrett x Shottle)
  • 2.47     De-Su ALTAHALEY (Alta Meteor x Goldwyn)
  • 2.48     Stantons EVEREST (Observer x Shottle)


  • 2.45     Co-op Bosside MASSEY (Mascol x Bret)
  • 2.54     Lirr Drew DEMPSEY (Goldwyn x Derry)
  • 2.62     Coyne-Farms DORCY (Bolton x Bret)
  • 2.62     Coppertop DOBERMAN (Shottle x Granger)
  • 2.63     Crackholm FEVER (Goldwyn x Blitz)

Feet and Legs – Vital for High Performing Cows

The heritability of feet & legs is low (.20 to .25) but there are significant differences between sires in their ability to sire animals with functional feet and legs, especially feet. The costs mount up when you consider that cows with sore feet do not come in heat. And their feet must be trimmed more often. On top of that they require medication. In the end, there is milk withdrawal and definitely there is a loss of milk production. The Bullvine offers the following sires for use in herds that care about reducing their costs and losses due to feet and leg problems.

GENOMICALLY EVALUATED SIRES: ranked by their DGV Feet & Legs Index

  • +16 Blue-Horizon ALTASUPLEX (Super x Planet) Side View +7, Rear View +10, Foot Angle +7
  • +15 Ronelee Shottbolt DENZEL (Shottbolt x Outside) Rear View +12, Foot Angle +7.
  • +14 Seagull-Bay HEADLINER (Robust x Planet) Rear View +12, Foot Angle +10.
  • +14 De-Su RANSOM (Robust x Ramos) Foot Angle +10, Heel Depth +7. Bone Quality -1.
  • +13 Farnear –TBR- BH CASHMONEY (Observer x Goldwyn) Rear View +10.

DAUGHTER PROVEN SIRES: ranked by Feet & Leg Index

  • +16 Gen-I-Beq BRAWLER (Baxter x Shottle) – Foot Angle +12, Heel Depth +13.
  • +15 Crackholm FEVER (Goldwyn x Blitz) – Bone Quality +10, Rear View +11, Rear Set +13.
  • +14 Lirr Drew DEMPSEY (Goldwyn x Derry) – Foot Angle +11, Heel Depth +8, Rear View +9.
  • +14 DANILLO (Goldwyn x Oman) – Foot Angle +12, Rear View +13.
  • +12 Va-Early-Dawn SUDAN (Jammer x Sailor) – Foot Angle +8, Rear View +13. Rear legs straight.


The sires recommended here are genetically superior for reducing the nagging problems of fertility, mastitis and feet. At the same time, they are superior for their Lifetime Profit Index.  Bulls’ daughters that do not reach their potential due to any or all of these limiting factors are not needed on your farm or in the national herd. Choose the best sires that correct the actual problems that you face and thereby give you the opportunity to increase your profit per cow per year.  This method of selecting sires is not showy like winning in the show ring is but your bottom line on your year-end financial statement will be a larger number. Taking your goal of greater profits from fact to reality.

Looking for more mating recommendations and insights…click here.


How often do you select a mating sire for the reasons you typically cull animals, as opposed to what your perceived ideal cow looks like?  Further to our discussion about what the Perfect Holstein Cow looks like we here at the Bullvine started to ask ourselves, “How often do we choose our matings based on what we think the perfect cow looks like? vs. what our true management needs are?” Far too often sire selection is based on the fantasy of breeding that next great show cow or VG-89-2YR instead of facts needed to breed that low maintenance cow that will stay in your herd for many lactations and produce high quantities of milk.  Do your sire selections overlook your management needs?

Speedy Selection. Long-Lasting Problems

Discernment is the hardest part of sire selection.  Seeing your herd for what it is and what its genetic needs are is step one.  Step two is choosing what will work for you almost three years from now when the daughters of the sires you use today will be entering the milking string.  The old adage was “breed for type and feed for production.”  But how many breeding stock animals have you sold recently based solely on conformation?  How many will you be selling in three years based on their type?  What are the revenue sources for your farm now and in the future?  If your answer is “We get our revenue from the milk cheque from as few cows as possible and with as much profit per cow as possible” then selecting for type could mean that your sire selection is out of alignment with your management needs.

How Can You Tell If You Are You Out of Sync?

One place to determine where your herd has issues is to look at the reasons for and the frequency of culling. Every cow that leaves your herd for any reason other than a profitable sale is an indicator of the issues that could be arising from sire selection that is out of alignment with what is going on in your herd.

The Bullvine found the following information on milking age females that are removed from herds:

  • Over 35% of cows in a herd are replaced annually. That is costly!
  • The top known reasons for culling or removing cows are:
    • Infertility  / reproduction                    23.1%
    • Sold for dairy purposes                       21.4%
    • Mastitis                                               13.8%
    • Feet and Legs                                        9.6%
    • Low production                                     7.6%
    • Total    75.5%
  • The other known reasons for culling or removing cows are:
    • Injury               10.0%
    • Sickness           7.0%
    • Old Age           2.4%
    • Diseases          1.8%
    • Bad Temperament      0.9%
    • Difficult Calving          0.9%
    • Conformation 0.9%
    • Slow Milker                 0.6%
    • Total    24.5%

Are You Breeding to Spend Money or Are you Breeding to Make Money?

You may be comfortable with your culling rate especially if it isn’t too far off “normal”. However when you look closely at the cows that remain in your herd how “needy” are they?  Staff time, vet calls, hoof trimming, semen, drugs, supplies, extra time in the dry cow pen and removing cows from herds before they reach maturity – these all add up to significant dollars down the drain.  Therefore, anything that can be done in sire selection to minimize these costs goes right to improving the financial bottom line.  All unbudgeted costs mean less profit. If an animal is culled early, it does not matter where she placed at the local show or that her sire was a popular bull that left fancy udders.  If he also left poor feet and low fertility, that costs you money.

A More Realistic Approach: Breed for the Bottom Line Not Just the Top Number

Often top bulls for total index are put forward to breeders for their use, without regard for the bull’s limiting factors.  The Bullvine doesn’t support that approach.  We recommendation that minimum sire selection values be set for the reasons cows are culled so that sires used in a herd don’t create new problems while the breeder tries to solve the current ones.

Here are the Bullvine we recommend the following requirements bulls should meet to be considered for use by bottom line focused breeders:

  • In Canada
    • Lifetime Profit Index   > +2000*
    • Daughter Fertility          > 100
    • Somatic Cell Score         < 2.90
    • Feet & Legs                      > +5
  • In USA
    • Total Performance Index        > 2000*
    • Daughter Pregnancy Rate          > 1.0
    • Somatic Cell Score                    < 2.90
    • Feet & Legs Composite               > 1.0

* A high minimum value has been set for both LPI and TPI to address the removal of cows for low production and so animals sold for dairy purposes can be in demand for their milk producing ability.


Every dairy breeder wants a superior herd and wants to eliminate the daily annoyances, costs and loss of valuable cows due to infertility, mastitis and feet problems and low production. Breeders should choose the best sires that correct the actual problems that they face in their herd instead of chasing a fantasy that has nothing to do with their reality.

The Dairy Breeders No BS Guide to Genomics


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