A quick look at the US Holstein sires with the most registered daughters would have you believe that proven sires are still more popular than genomic sires. Currently all three of the top-3 with the most registered daughters are daughter-proven bulls (Mogul, Supersire, and Yoder). However, coming to the conclusion that proven sires are therefore more popular, would mean that you don’t understand how much the dairy artificial insemination industry has changed with the introduction of genomics.
To understand the trends in sire usage, you first need to understand semen production. It is a well-known fact that young sires do not produce as much semen as proven sires. A top producing young sire might produce 20,000 units in their first year of production, whereas a top producing mature sire can produce about 200,000 units in a year. Young sires are much like teenage boys, who are full of “energy”, but have not yet reached maturity when it comes to sexual reproduction. In fact, they are just learning how to regularly produce semen. On the other hand, a mature sire has reached their sexual maturity and they not only produce more semen per ejaculate, but they can also be collected more frequently. On average mature sires produce up to 10X as much semen per year.
Thus we must conclude that the reason top proven sires fair well on the top registration lists has more to do with semen production than with sire popularity. In fact, it is well known that a substantial production sire, with a decent type proof and who is also an excellent semen producer, will have much larger sales than most people would expect him to have. Die-Hard, the millionaire sire at ABS Global, is a great example of this. Cost effective price setting, excellent distribution, and solid performance can all have a tremendous impact on an individual proven sire’s sales.
To answer the question of proven sires’ popularity vs. genomic sires’, you need to look at the overall sales. While the US studs do not release their overall semen sales numbers, Canada, that has a very similar market, shows that Holstein genomic sires are the breeders’ choice, when it comes to usage. Additionally, in Canada, the same pattern of sire usage also applies for the Ayrshire, Brown Swiss and Jersey Breeds.
Over the past four years, the ratio of Holstein Proven Sires to Genomic Sires in Canada has gone from 48:52 to 69:31. That tells us that semen sales for genomic sires have risen from being equal almost 70% of the current market share. This trend is in line with an August 2014 article in The Bullvine where we wrote that genomic sales would cross Malcolm Gladwell’s tipping point of 84% in the next two years. (Read more: Why 84% of Dairy Breeders Will Soon Be Using Genomic Sires!)
What the top registration lists in the US tell us is that there is a chance that we will continue to see Millionaire sires. (Read more: Will there ever be another Millionaire Sire?) However, they will be a different type of Millionaire than they have been in the past. It used to be that sires that came up with a high proven sire proof and who were also high volume semen producers made this distinguished category. The Millionaire sires of the future will be the sires that start with high genomic indexes. They will be able to stay in the top 10 TPI sires throughout their genomic test period. They will come out with a strong official daughter proof, when they can most capitalize on their increased semen production. Another change will be that their sales, once they are proven, will most likely be to secondary markets. Today most major markets, similar to North America, will have moved to mostly genomic sire sales. Fortunately for AI companies, there are still many countries that don’t yet allow genomic sires to be imported into their countries.
The Bullvine Bottom Line
The bottom line is that the dairy breeding industry is changing very rapidly. As the AI companies have learned, genomics has been one of the greatest developments ever seen. However, along with this great change, have come great challenges. One of the biggest issues AI companies now face is the limited semen production from genomic young sires. For this reason, top lists can be miss-represented to say one thing, even though those that understand the dairy breeding industry know that genomic young sire usage is certainly more popular than proven sire usage. It won’t be long until the tipping point of 84% will be crossed!