Archive for Young Sires

How Much Can You Trust Genomic Young Sires?

There has certainly been great debate since the introduction of genomics about how accurate the information is.  While some breeders have gone full throttle on the use of genomic test sires, others are still very hesitant in the use of these yet to be daughter proven sires.  For many the question remains,” how much can we trust these sires?”

Recently I had a conversation with a breeder and he said “They are only 70% reliable and you can’t really trust that.”  To which I argued, “Actually you can trust that a fair bit.”

Some time ago CDN  published that for genomically evaluated bulls with 65% reliable gLPIs, breeders can expect 95% of the time that their official proof will be within 670 LPI points (within about 18-20%).  This means  that we can be 95% sure that the current top gLPI sire, Suntor Joyride, will be higher than +2813 LPI, once he has his official progeny proven index that is over 90% reliable.  That boils down to say that at least 95% of the time Joyride would end up with an official proof that would rank him in the top 10 in Canada.  That is the worst case scenario.

When you apply this to your breeding program when you’re using a genomic young sire, you can take 670 LPI points or approximately 455 TPI points off their predicted index and they will achieve that number or higher 95% of the time.  For example, take the #1 gPA TPI sire, Seagull-Bay Supersire, who has a current gPA TPI of +2527 and you can be 95% certain that his daughter proof that is over 90% reliable will be at least +2072.  That would place him in the top 77 sires in the US (260 points behind current proven leader Observer).  Remember that is 95% of the time he would be there at least.  Not a bad worst-case scenario. (Read more: The Truth About Genomic Indexes – “Show Me” That They Work)

Pattern vs. Rank

The question that really comes to mind for me is not necessarily how do they rank, but rather how good is genomics at predicting the sire’s breeding pattern?  Rankings will change all the time as new sires are added and breeders continue to push the envelope on genetic advancement.  I am more concerned about how good genomics is at predicting the strengths and weaknesses of a sire.

To look closer at this, I decided to compare Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood’s genomic proof pattern vs. his now daughter proven pattern.  Since Atwood is now over 95% reliable, it is safe to assess his current strengths and weaknesses, remembering that he was heavily used based on his genomic proof.  In looking at Atwood’s genomic indexes, you would have said that he was a strong components sire with low production.  His type pattern was that he would leave you outstanding daughters with great mammary systems, feet & legs and loads of dairy strength, but needs to be protected on rumps.  Looking at his actual daughter performance you would see the same exact pattern.  While yes his rump score is lower than his genomic index would have indicated, it was an area that genomics did say needed to be protected.

The interesting pattern that we have started to see is that the greatest variance from genomic prediction to actual proof is in the areas of health and fertility.  Logically that makes sense, since most of these traits have a lower reliability.  What we are noticing here is that genomic sires due to tend to follow the pattern of their sires for health and fertility traits more so than those of their dams.  This makes sense too, since there is a larger data set in the sire’s health and fertility index than in the index of a dam.  So next time you are looking at a genomic test sires health and fertility traits be sure to also check out those traits for his sire, as that may be as much a predictor of his potential as are his own indexes.

Sire Sampling

Prior to the introduction of Genomics in 2008, there was great attention paid to how young sires were sampled.  AI companies worked very hard at getting a young sire sampled in as many different herds and different environments as possible, in order to get an accurate proof.  Since the introduction of Genomics this has actually changed drastically.  It is now to the point where the top genomic sires are actually used very selectively.

Young sires are no longer randomly sampled.  In today’s genomic age, a lot of the systems and controls are gone.  Yes, many of the sires are still offered to all breeders, but these high-ranking young sires are sold at a much higher price, and marketed much heavier.  In addition, often the first release semen is only used on contract mattings on extremely high index, carefully selected mates.  This too results in anything but random sampling and in reality is almost the perfect method for receiving an inflated proof.  It isn’t just because of the actual mates they are being used on, but also because of the care the resulting calves will receive.

Genetic evaluation systems assume that all animals in the herd are treated equally.  Yet while there is nothing wrong with a breeder wanting to ensure their return on their investment in these top genetic animals, it certainly causes many problems when accounting for it in the genetic evaluations of these animals.  Most “animal-model” genetic evaluations in the world account for the genetic merit of a sire’s mates.  However, when the US first added females to their genomic reference set, they actually got lower reliabilities as a result of inaccuracies in female’s proofs, due to preferential treatment.  That is why some countries actually leave female genomic data out of their reference sets, as a large portion of the females are these high index animals that, in many cases, have received preferential treatment.  In the US they actually implemented a scaling-effect adjustment to bring those top females down.  The US has also implemented a new single-step model that includes genomic and traditional data together designed to account for this in bull proofs.  Other countries are also looking for potential solutions.  This includes possibly withholding early data from evaluations, as well as other options.  The challenge is that no one has found a real solution to the actual problem and steps so far just mask the issue with scale downs and other band-aids.  This preferential treatment problem is going to get greater attention, as more high profile genomic sires,  priced high and heavily  marketed will start to receive proofs in 2013.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

More and more Genomic young sires are now receiving their daughter proven proofs and many, such as Observer, have come through with flying colors.  While rankings may change, the important thing to remember is that the genomic indexes did accurately predict breeding patterns.  In that case, if you took the effort to make sure you used the sire because he was the correct mate for the animal, then the majority of the time the resulting progeny should be fine.  If instead you used the sire just because of how he ranked and then his ranking changed, well then yes, you are going to find that you may not be as happy.  The key thing to remember in any mating you are doing is know your goals.  Make sure you breed towards them by selecting the sire that best accelerates those traits that you are breeding for and fixes the challenges of the cow you are breeding to.  When you do that, you can be very confident in using genomic young sires to deliver the results you are looking for.

The Dairy Breeders No BS Guide to Genomics


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Genomic Young Sires vs. Daughter Proven Sires: Which one is best for Reliable Genetic Gain?

The Bullvine is often asked, “How can using genomic sires be better, if the genomic sire’s reliabilities are not as high as those for proven sires?” So in typical Bullvine style we set out to answer that question.  The following is our answer…

Single Trait – Fat

Bullvine wanted to keep this comparison as simple as possible.  To do this we used one trait, in this case fat yield, knowing that breeders do not select for one trait only. The results apply to all traits.

Females in Your Barn

You have a virgin heifer and a seven year old cow that are both indexed at 100 kgs for fat yield.  Both have been genomically tested and the cow is milking in her fourth lactation.  The heifer’s index is 67% Rel.  and the cow is 82% Rel.

TABLE 1: Females

Born Fat Index % Rel Regressed Fat Index
Heifer 2012 Jan 10 100 67 67
Cow 2005 Jan 16 100 82 82



Three sires you might consider using for breeding these females could be:

TABLE 2: Sires

Born Fat Index (kgs) % Rel Regressed Fat Index
Oman March 08, 1998 82 99 81
Supersire Dec 28, 2010 116 67 78
Pride January 27, 2012 135 69 93


Index of Calves

What will be the fat indexes for the resulting calves? (Add parents together and divide by two)

TABLE 3: Regressed Fat Indexes for Calves (kgs)

Heifer 74 72.5 80
Cow 81.5 80 87.5

These values are the expected average fat indexes.  And, yes, there will be less variation amongst the progeny for Oman and the cow.  The most variability amongst the progeny can be expected for the heifer when mated to Supersire or Pride.

Therefore, the short answer for which bull to use, is Pride. Pride will maximize the calf’s fat yield index.

Rate of Genetic Gain

Determining genetic gain is a principle taught to all college genetic students.  The formula is:

Let’s simplify this:

Accuracy                              =             Reliability

Selection Intensity          =             Determined by where the animal ranks in the population (all these animals are in the top 1% of the population so their selection intensity is identical)

Genetic Variation             =             Standard Deviation of fat yield indexes (common for all the animals in the example)

Generation Interval        =             The average time between the birth of the parents and the birth of the calf.

Generation Interval is the place where the numbers for the heifer and the sires, Supersire and Pride, are much smaller (in years) than those for the cow and Oman.

TABLE 4: Generation Interval (years)

Heifer 8.5 2.5 2.0
Cow 11.5 5.5 5.0

Since the numbers for fat index in TABLE 3 are all similar, dividing them by a larger vs. a smaller generation interval greatly affects the outcome for genetic gain.

For the cow and Oman dividing 81.5 (Fat Index) by 11.5 (Generation Interval) gives a much smaller gain than for the heifer and Pride (80 divided by 2.0).  In fact it is much different 7.9 compared to 40.

That’s the reason turning generations more quickly, using genomics, gives the faster rates of annual genetic gain. (Read more: The Genomic Advancement Race – The Battle for Genetic Supremacy)

The Bullvine Bottomline

Genomics gives you more speed.  No question.  If you’re worried about speed being dangerous, spread the risk by using multiple (not one) high indexing genomic sires where you might have only used one or two proven sires in the past.



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Preferential Treatment – The Bull Proof Killer

Accuracy of bull proofs has been one of the biggest challenges for dairy cattle improvement for many years.  It has been well known that top index cows have always received some level of “preferential treatment” and as a result their indexes have been inflated.  Usually this didn’t affect their sire’s proof since they were usually already proven sires and when weighted with many other daughters this had little to no effect on the sires proofs.  Enter genomics and large portions of young sire daughters receiving preferential treatment and this could have huge effects on the proofs of these genomic index bulls.  There is no question that the current systems around the world cannot account for this preferential treatment and as a result many genomic sires’ first proofs will be inflated.

In the past when young sires were sampled they were used across many different herd environments and regions.  I remember when regionally proven sire (California, etc) or breeder proven sires were released. Many breeders where hesitant to use them because they were not confident that these sires proofs would hold up.  Young sire programs in the past offered semen at low cost or pretty much free (when you factor in incentives) to many different breeders in order to ensure that the sire got enough daughters and that they would be able to achieve a reliable proof.

Does random sampling still exist?

Young sires are no longer randomly sampled.  In today’s genomic age, a lot of the systems and controls are gone.  Yes, many of the sires are still offered to all breeders, but these high-ranking young sires are sold at a much higher price, and marketed much heavier.  In addition often the first release semen is only used on contract matings on extremely high index, carefully selected mates.  This results in anything but random sampling and in reality is almost the perfect method for receiving an inflated proof.  It isn’t just because of the actual mates they are being used on but also because of the care the resulting calves will receive.

Why do daughters receive preferential treatment?

Think about it, if you have paid upward of $750 for a dose of semen (Read more – $750 Dollar Semen! Are you crazy?) to be used on your most valuable animals, wouldn’t you make sure you protected your investment by giving them the best care possible?  It is well known that top index cattle around the world have received over inflated indexes as a result of preferential treatment.  The problem is ‘how do we account for the biases?

Does the current system account for preferential treatment?

Genetic evaluation systems assume that all animals in the herd are treated equally.  Yet while there is nothing wrong with a breeder wanting to ensure their return on their investment in these top genetic animals, it certainly causes many problems when accounting for it in the genetic evaluations of these animals. (Read more – The Hot House Effect on Sire Sampling).

Most “animal-model” genetic evaluations in the world account for the genetic merit of a sire’s mates.  However, when the US first added females to their genomic reference set they actually got lower reliabilities as a result of inaccuracies in female’s proofs due to preferential treatment.  That is why some countries actually leave female genomic data out of their reference sets, as a large portion of the females are these high index animals that, in many cases, have received preferential treatment.  In the US they actually implemented a scaling-effect adjustment to bring those top females down.  The US has also implemented a new single-step model that includes genomic and traditional data together designed to account for this in bull proofs.  Other countries are also looking for potential solutions.  This includes potentially withholding early data from evaluations as well as other options.  The challenge is that no one has found a real solution to the actual problem, and steps so far just mask the issue with scale downs and other band-aids.

How to identify preferential treatment?

I recently attended a GEB session put on by CDN (Canadian Dairy Network) where they gave a presentation on accounting for herd bias.  Brian Van Doormaal presented a few different ways he theorized would identify bulls’ daughters who might have received this preferential treatment.  One indicator he presented of possible preferential treatment was if a high percentage of a bull’s early offering were the result of ET.  Another indicator he looked at was the percentage of daughters that have been genotyped.  However, neither delivered conclusive results.  Another suggestion that was presented was increasing the number of daughters a sire needs  in order to receive an official proof.  The challenge with that is that A.I. companies and most high profile breeders are wanting sires to get a proof as quickly as possible and increasing the requirements will cause delay.  In addition, analysis of semen price so far does not show it to be a great predictor either.  Currently there are simply no answers.

In Brian’s presentation he equated this problem to the challenges we have seen with second-country proofs.  In Canada bulls like Shottle, Planet and more recently Man-O-Man (Read more – Man-O-Man will he turn platinum? and Is Man-O-Man really going to be a sire of sons?) that come through with initial Canadian proofs over 3500 LPI, which everyone knows to be unrealistic, in time saw their proofs drop 300+ points with the addition of more daughters.  Van Doormaal also comments that you could expect bulls like Snowman, and genomic sires to do the same.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Currently there are no definitive answers only growing concerns.  This preferential treatment problem is going to get greater attention, as more high profile genomic sires,  priced high and highly marketed will start to receive proofs in 2013. The industry must be proactive about this issue. If not we are going to see breeder confidence in proofs decrease, instead of increase, because of genomics. That would be a killer!

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Bullvine Performance Index (BPI) – Top Sires December 2012

While there is no doubt that national composite index’s (TPITM, LPI, PLI etc.) are great marketing tools, recently there has been  discussion about their merits as actual genetic advancement tools.  With each index providing “home field” advantage to domestic animals and many out of date with where the industry is headed, we here at the Bullvine have developed the Bullvine Performance Index (BPI).

In the BPI we use direct genomic values instead of parent averages and we also incorporate reliabilities, in order to greater account for animals whose indexes stand the best chance of being stable over time.  As far as what traits we looked at, we have used an equally balanced weighting between production, longevity and health and fertility, as we see that emphasis represents where the market is heading.  We also include a small component (MPS) that factors in dam, 2nd dam and 3rd dam actual performance irrelevant of country of origin, as per our discussion with many breeders who feel that this should have some weight.  Instead of trying to be reactionary to the marketplace like most composite indexes, we are trying to be leading and ahead of the market.  We also are publishing BPI as a percentage so that it is clear just how far apart each animal is from each other.  Since this is a ranking index we felt it was more important to show the range between animals than to give a number that technically means nothing.

Top 50 BPI Sires

Sire NameBPIProductionLongevityHealth and FertilityMPS
MR LOOKOUT P ENFORCER-ET100%97%94%78%96%
LONG-LANGS OMAN OMAN-ET94%99%60%19%96%
COYNE-FARMS DORCY-ET93%58%93%50%95%
TEXEL BEAUTY COSMO-ET86%77%81%54%98%
CO-OP BOSSIDE MASSEY-ET85%79%48%59%92%
UFM-DUBS OLEGANT-ET85%48%66%70%95%
RMW ANCHOR-ET85%82%84%67%96%
LIRR DREW DEMPSEY84%34%85%49%97%
RMW DORCY AMBROSE-ET83%59%100%61%96%
CERVI ALLEMAR ET83%39%74%79%94%
WABASH-WAY EXPLODE-ET83%58%87%28%96%
MR LOOKOUT P EMBARGO-ET83%84%91%43%96%
CRACKHOLM FEVER81%33%85%42%96%
CO-OP O-STYLE OMAN JUST-ET80%66%40%66%96%
CERVI PHONIC80%38%48%100%94%
CO-OP BOOKEM YUXI78%75%95%53%93%
DE-SU JEROD 1223-ET77%82%83%60%93%
GEN-I-BEQ BRAWLER76%56%68%18%97%
SILDAHL JETT AIR-ET75%41%79%42%96%
MORNINGVIEW LEVI75%86%35%35%96%
DE-SU GILLESPY-ET74%72%77%0%96%
DE-SU DISTINCTION 11130-ET74%92%83%40%96%
S-S-I PEOTI MOWGLI-ET73%86%61%66%95%
SULLY MCCORD 269-ET72%93%69%44%94%
S-S-I BOOKEM MORGAN-ET71%86%65%61%95%
S-S-I PEOTI MANSUR-ET70%88%62%53%95%

Key Findings

  • One of the neat things we found in developing this index is that it is able to give a realistic comparison between sires from all countries.
  • Even more importantly it also gives a good comparison of genomic test sires versus proven sires.  Four of the top ten sires are proven sires, as compared to most national indexes that, when combining the genomic sires and the proven sires would find that at least nine if not all ten would be genomic test sires.
  • Outside of MR LOOKOUT P ENFORCER most of the sires are very close and really do warrant that you make sure you use the corrective mating for your specific animal as opposed to just using the top 5 or 10 bulls.
  • Another finding was the ability for second crop sires to also compare favorably with genomic test sires.  Besides Man-O-Man (LONG-LANGS OMAN OMAN-ET) other second crop sires who come up high are UFM-DUBS ALTAESQUIRE-ET (BPI of 68%) and BRAEDALE GOLDWYN (BPI of 66%).  This demonstrates that these high reliability sires very much still have value in many mating programs.


  • There is no question that MR LOOKOUT P ENFORCER offers an extremely balanced package.  His strong production numbers combined with his extreme type and longevity with good health and fertility traits will have him be a sire of sons worldwide.  He may be hard to get your hands on as he is just one year old and he may only be released for contract matings.  This Marbri Facebook son has 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 on using him is his body depth.  Both his sire stack and his DGVs would say this area needs protecting.
  • There is no question that this last proof round Man-O-Man (LONG-LANGS OMAN OMAN) stole the show.  His outstanding second crop daughter numbers have many top index breeders going back and using him again.  His extreme production numbers have him and his daughters in high demand.  With many sons like UNO also coming on the scene and offering a more balanced offering, it’s important to make sure you use Man-O-Man or maybe GENERVATIONS LIQUID GOLD when looking for the splash of production for a high type, high health and fertility mating. However hold off, if you are looking to improve those areas.  Use a more balanced sire like MR LOOKOUT P ENFORCER-ET or maybe SOUTHERN-HILLS BAYARD-ET.
  • Coming up strong, as he keeps adding daughter numbers, is COYNE-FARMS DORCY.  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 dairy strength, fat percent and, specifically, for his body depth and chest width.
  • Also catching our eye are a couple of Freddie sons – SOUTHERN-HILLS BAYARD and HAMMER-CREEK FRED KRUNCH.  Both these sires offer a greater type and longevity option over their sire BADGER-BLUFF FANNY FREDDIE who suffers on our BPI index as his second and third dam’s classification and performance scores are low.
  • The top non- North American sire on our list is GOLDDAY.  Goldday is a Goldwyn son from A-L-H DESTINY VG-87-3YR-USA DOM GMD.  Destiny is of course the popular bull mother from Markwell Durham Daisy (Read more – Markwell Durham Daisy – 2012 Golden Dam Finalist), proven in Germany.  Goldday is also the full brother to former #1 German sire Danillo.  Look for Goldday to sire unbelievable udders and legs as well as long herd life.  One area where you will want to protect Goldday is rump angle.  Be cautious in using him on cattle that need production improvement.

The Bottom Line

It is difficult to keep track of all the top animals and compare them accurately. Trying to compare genomic sires with proven sires with each country having their own index with apparent bias makes it doubly hard.  Having said that, comparisons are instructive for informed decision-making.  That is why we developed the BPI formula.  Contrary to popular belief that you need to be using 100% genomic sires to accelerate your genetic advancement, our analysis shows absolutely that there are  proven sires that should be used in order to minimize your risk and still achieve the greatest results.

The Top 12 Holstein Genomic Young Sires To Use for Maximum Genetic Gain

Confused on what group of genomic young sires to use for your breeding program?  Not sure which sires are the real deals and which ones are just smoke and mirrors (read The Hot House Effect on Sire Sampling)?  We decided to take a closer look at the top 100 genomic young sires from around the world to determine just which ones are worth using and which ones you are better forgetting.

Based on our analysis of the early genomic sires that  received indexes, we first removed all sires from our list that didn’t have DGV’s available or higher than their parent average for the traits we judge as important (read 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Genomic Sires With DGV’s Lower Than Their Parent Averages).  Then instead of just giving you the highest list based on their GPA TPI or GPA LPI we decided to look for sires that fit certain needs.  They are overall performers, production, durability, health and fertility and conformation.  The following are the results.

Overall Performance Improvement



While bulls like Amighetti Numero Uno may top the GPA TPI list, we are looking for a more needs approach.  The following are the sires we would recommend when looking for a genomic young sire to provide overall performance improvement.

    This Robust son from 2012 Golden Dam Finalist 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 over 2500 lbs. for milk, with positive component deviations, 2.50 for type, and over 7 for productive life.  He really is the complete package.
    From the LYLEHAVEN LILA Z EX-94-CAN 14* (also a 2012 Golden Dam Finalist) family comes, the CDN GPA LPI topper VELTHUIS LET IT SNOW.  While possessing 500 lbs. less production and half the productive life of that of Supersire, this Snowman son has outstanding type composites and the genomic test to make up the difference for those of you that do not want to sacrifice overall type.  I would protect Let It Snow on the health and fertility side a little.
    I am always looking for sires whose genomic tests blow out their expected values, and ROSYLANE-LLC ALTALEO does that by almost 19%.  AltaLeo does not top any  GPA TPI or GPA LPI lists, but he does seem to far exceed the values you would expect from an AltaMeteor from a not very well known Nifty (Bombay x Zebo) daughter.  For those of you who like to take flyers on bulls who just seem to be extreme, AltaLeo is the sire for you.  While he does need to be protected on rump and dairy strength, for those that are willing to take the risk, they may find the reward is well worth it.

Production Improvement



For those of you that are more commercially focused or maybe those of you who have not focused enough on production and the milk check is showing it, here are our recommendations other than Supersire for genomic young sires to use to gain the greatest production increase:

    PHOENIX is a Planet from DE-SU 7902 GP-81-2YR-USA DOM, whose dam De-Su Oman 6121 VG-86-2YR-USA DOM GMD has over 20 daughters on the locator list and is the dam of De-Su Observer, one of the early top genomic sires.  Phoenix combines outstanding production and components with strong conformation.  Though a Planet x Bolton cross may raise some concerns about rumps, Phoenix should inherit his maternal line’s rumps and be okay.  The area of strong concern that he does need protected on is his health and fertility traits, specifically his daughter fertility and milking speed.
    Lightsnow also from the LYLEHAVEN LILA Z EX-94-CAN 14* family is a Snowman from the well-known Planet daughter MS CHARTROISE LORELEI VG-87-2YR-CAN.  Lightsnow offers 160 lbs. of combined fat and protein, offering breeders a quick punch of components while not having to sacrifice production.  While needing to be protected a little on some of the health and fertility traits, Lightsnow offers outstanding production improvement with a very balanced type offering.

Longevity Improvement



For those of you that are looking to breed cattle that last lactation after lactation or maybe you have having problems with your 2 year olds not coming back for a 2nd lactation we recommend the genomic young sires:

    As the #2 sire for productive life (NO-FLA AltaSecure is #1) BLUE-HORIZON ALTASUPLEX offers significant longevity improvement.  Unlike AltaSecure this Super son combines that high productive life with over 1400lbs of milk, and 3.00 points on type.  While he does need to be protected %F, dairy strength and rumps, AltaSuplex offers extreme functional conformation improvement that you would expect from a great grandson of BUDJON-JK ENCORE ELECTRA EX-95-2E-USA DOM GMD 3*.
    Following closely behind AltaSuplex for #2 on the top genomic longevity list is Doorman, a Bookem from a Shottle that completes 8 generations of VG+ with 31*.  Doorman offers a more complete package with not needing protected on much as he is over 1300 kgs of Milk, plus on both his component deviations, and double digits for all major type traits.  In fact his DGV for conformation and mammary system are among the very best in the breed at +22.  While the family may not be a household name yet,  Doorman could be the sire that changes that as he even converts well onto the US system with a GTPI of +2465, PTAT +4.72 and almost a 1000 lbs of Milk and over 100 lbs of combined fat and protein.
    There hasn’t been a  better  brood cow for type and longevity recently  than 2012 Golden Dam Finalist REGANCREST-PR BARBIE EX-92-7YR-USA DOM GMD 3*.  Now this trend continues with her grand daughter, and fellow 2012 Golden Dam Finalist REGANCREST S CHASSITY EX-92-4YR-USA DOM, and also Chassity’s Goldwyn daughter, and Cashmoney’s dam MS CHASSITY GOLDWYN CASH VG-87-2YR-CAN.  Not only does Cashmoney have an extremely well known female side to his pedigree, his sire stack is nothing to laugh at either.  He combines OBSERVER x GOLDWYN x SHOTTLE x CHAMPION x DURHAM, and from a longevity standpoint he’s the best there is on the list.  Cashmoney really is the real deal though I would protect him on strength and rumps.

Health and Fertility Improvement

One area that is not getting enough attention by most breeders is health and fertility. While there is no question that every breeder knows that more pregnancies equals more profits many of the top ranking sires actually have negative values for health and fertility.  The following are a couple of specialist sires that should help you change that:

    Possessing no Planet, Shottle or Goldwyn in his pedigree S-S-I DOMAIN LITHIUM has some of the highest DGV’s for health and fertility.  Lithium is from one of the top genomic cows in the breed, GLEN-TOCTIN BOLT LUCILLE VG-87-DOM.  Combining high herd life, low Somatic Cell counts and high daughter fertility with over 1600 lbs of milk, 110 of fat and protein and 2.5 points on type makes Lithium a great choice when looking for improvement.  It is interesting to note that his DGV’s for health and fertility are almost 8% higher than the next highest sire (BRANDT-VIEW ALTAOTIS) and 50% higher than his own official index, indicating that he really is the sire to use when wanting to address this area that has flown under the radar far too long.
    With his low Somatic Cell Score (2.72), strong udders (2.54 Udder comp.), quick milking speed (106), and high daughter fertility (110 CDN 2 US) Krunch is a breed leader when it comes to health and fertility. Tracing back to WA-DEL RC BLCKSTR MARTHA EX-93-2E-USA GMD DOM 2* combines his strong female lineage with outstanding health and fertility sire stack Freddie x Goldwyn x Zade x Mtoto x Formation x Blackstar.  Though he very much needs to be protected for strength and rumps.

Type Improvement



There is no question that some of us put too much emphasis on type improvement when it comes to selecting bulls, especially when many type traits have such low heritability (read Is Your Breeding Strategy A “Field of Dreams”?).  The following sires in addition to Let It Snow and Doorman, will offer you the potential to breed a great show animal.

    Tied with Doorman for some of the highest type genomics in the breed is MR ATWOOD BROKAW.  Which should come as no surprise as in Brokaw you combine the two greatest type families in the breed today.  On the paternal  side you have Atwood and his dam MD-DELIGHT DURHAM ATLEE EX-92-4YR-USA DOM GMD 2*, 2012 Golden Dam finalist and reserve Int. Champion at Madison in 2005 followed by her grand dam being MS Kingstead Chief Adeen EX-94.  On the maternal side you have REGANCREST MAC BIKASA VG-87-2YR-USA who is the daughter of REGANCREST-PR BARBIE EX-92-7YR-USA DOM GMD 3*, also a 2012 Golden Dam Finalist.  Watch for Brokaw to sire extreme udders and dairy strength, but will need to be protected on rumps from time to time.
    Also from the of REGANCREST-PR BARBIE EX-92-7YR-USA DOM GMD 3* family, but this time from a VG-88-3YR-USA DOM   1* Shottle daughter REGANCREST BREYA, and sired by GEN-MARK STMATIC SANCHEZ EX-94-6YR-USA ST’12 comes Bradnick.  Breya is the former #3 PTAT Cow in the breed and continues the strong legacy that Barbie started.  In Bradnick you get a sire who is over 3 points on all composites except dairy comp. where he is at 2.92.  In every major type trait Bradnick’s DGV’s are higher than expected and offers more balance than Brokaw who does need to be protected on Rumps.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Anyone can just pick a sire from a top of the GPA TPI or GPA LPI list and call themselves breeders.  But there is more to it than that. Breeding great cattle is part art form part science and you need to have both parts in balance.  It takes careful consideration generation after generation of corrective mating to breed great cow families.  That is why instead of just giving you a list of the top 10 we tried to provide you the insight into which sires will provide you the maximum gain in each specific area.

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Young Sire Sampling: Are we headed in the correct direction?

The Bullvine decided to take a closer look at the top (2012 August) 100 GLPI Canadian Holstein young bulls. To make it more informative the analysis is by groups of 25. It is important to recognize that the average reliability values for these genomically tested young bulls are between 64% and 69% almost as high as some new release bulls in the past. Behind us are the days when young bulls indexes were 33% to 37% reliable and posed a much greater risk due to low reliability.

Production – all breeders are also milk producers

Young Bulls Average Rating

GLPI GroupMilk (kgs)Fat (kgs)% FatProtein (kgs)% Protein
1 to 25+2303+96+0.10+86+0.11
26 to 50+2016+92+0.17+78+0.12
51 to 75+2012+84+0.09+74+0.09
76 to 100+1885+85+0.13+69+0.10

The top 100 GLPI young bulls are truly an elite group with production index values compared to recently proven sires of 98%RK for milk, 99%RK for fat and 99% RK for protein yields. An interesting note is how the top twenty-five stand out ten percent above the others, while each group afterwards drops by about 5-6%. A much greater variation than all other traits.

Type – important to predicting durability

Young Bulls Average Rating

GLPI GroupCONF (overall)MammaryFeet & LegsDairy StrengthRump
1 to 25+11.5+11.1+8.4+6.5+5.7
26 to 50+9.9+9.2+6.9+5.1+5.8
51 to 75+11.6+10.7+8.8+6.8+6.0
75 to 100+10.6+10.1+8.1+6.0+6.8

On average the type indexes of these top 100 GLPI young bulls are very high. The equivalent to a 98%RK for CONF for the recently proven sires. Note that the 26 to 50 group have the lowest type trait indexes to go along with high fat and protein especially for % Fat and % protein. In many cases, the bulls in the 26 to 50 group are the full or half brothers to the 1 to 25 group, who may have gotten more components but are not as high for CONF and Mammary.

Functional Traits – important but they have lower heritability’s

Young Bulls Average Rating

GLPI GroupHerd LifeDaughter FertilitySCSAverage H&F contribution to DGV LPI
1 to 25110992.6757
26 to 501101002.7185
51 to 751101002.7388
76 to 1001111012.70124

The average Herd Life and SCS ratings for these bulls are very good, positively contributing to H&F augmenting the GLPI values. However it must be noted that the Daughter Fertility ratings are only average detracting from the overall GLPI values for these bulls. Daughter Fertility is a trait that is primarily affected by non-genetic factors, but has a significant impact on the bottom line of any operation. The breed needs to be concerned because daughter fertility is not likely to see any significant gain genetically by using these bulls. As we all know more pregnancies equals more profits. Definitely more attention and more research needs to be given to the genetic evaluations and genetic merit of the breed for Daughter Fertility.

GLPI – the combination of production, durability and health/fertility

Young Bulls Average Rating

1 to 25+3218+3459+2784+3089+2599
26 to 50+2978+3127+2730+3191+2047
51 to 75+2900+3097+2592+2960+2052
76 to 100+2831+2960+2674+3056+2196

These top 100 GLPI young bulls are truly outstanding! They are exceeding by 982 LPI points the value required for a recently proven sire to get a 99%RK for GLPI. This was not even dreamed possible before there were genomic analysis using SNIP technology. Note that the Parent Average LPI’s are lower than GLPI’s and DGV LPI’s and are very close to being the same for all four groupings. It is in fact the young bulls DGV’s that put them in the top 100. They have full and half siblings that have lower DGV’s.  This supports our previous analysis of 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Genomic Sires With DGV’s Lower Than Their Parent Average.  The AI sire analysts have made very good use to the DGV’s after initially identifying bulls from their pedigrees, and then sampling those who’s DGV’s exceed their Parent Average LPI’s by a goodly amount. Think about it, the average of the top 100 young bulls at +2982  GLPI, and there is only one Canadian proven sire above that level. It should be noted that the dams/ DGV LPI’s for the first grouping far exceed the other three groupings.  Even if you factor in for a slight decrease in values, the top 25 would still all rank higher than the highest current proven sire.

Pedigrees – more similar than desired

Inbreeding is a concern that must be addressed as the top 100 GLPI young bulls are from a limited number of parents (Read more – Inbreeding: Does Genomics Affect The Balancing Act?).

Sires of Young Bulls

The five sires with the most sons are:

  • Oman Oman 28%
  • Snowman 20%
  • Planet 10%
  • Observer 10%
  • Freddie 7%
  • Other 25%

With Oman Oman, Snowman and Freddie all Oman sons inbreeding must be watched. 82% of the young bulls are sired by daughter proven bulls and 22% are sired by genomic young sires.

Dams of Young Bulls

The sires of the young bulls’ dams most prevalent on the list are:

  • Planet 25%
  • Shottle 23%
  • Goldwyn 18%
  • Bolton 13%
  • Baxter 7%
  • Other 14%

The dams with the most young bulls are:

  • Gen-I-Beq Shottle Bombi – 5
  • Comestar Goldwyn Lilac – 4
  • Sandy-Valley Planet Sapphire – 3
  • Marbri Baxter Brandy – 3
  • Sully Planet Manitoba – 3
  • Ten dams with two young bulls each
  • Sixty-two dams with one young bull each

Definitely there is more pedigree variability amongst the dams than the sires of these young bulls. All dams are milking cows. Five dams are below +2000 GLPI, 33 dams are below +2000 DGV LPI and 6 dams do not have DGV LPIs as they reside outside North America.


The bull owners for the top 100 GLPI young bulls are:

  • Semex – 64%
  • Alta Genetics – 10%
  • Genervations – 10%
  • Select Sires – 6%
  • CRI – 5%
  • Other – 5%

NAAB – top 100 USA GTPI young bulls

The Bullvine is not able to do as  extensive an analysis on the NAAB list as the DGV TPIs are not available for analysis. Below are the average ratings for the top 100 young bulls. Note this group is similar to the Canadian one hundred young bulls – again a significant concern is that fertility is not high.

  • Milk +1503 lbs.
  • Fat +71 lbs. +0.06%
  • Protein +55 lbs. +0.04%
  • PTAT +2.93
  • UDC +2.57
  • FLC +2.06
  • Productive Life +6.3
  • DPR 0.7
  • SCS 2.68
  • Net Merit +774
  • TPI +2395

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The use of genomic testing has provided  a very significant opportunity to increase the rate of genetic improvement in herds that use North American sampled Holstein bulls (read more – The Genomic Advancement Race – The Battle For Genetic Supremacy). The top 100 GLPI young Canadian bulls are the equivalent to over 99%RK for recently proven sires. Congratulations to the breeders and breeding companies for using the genomic results to produce the young bulls. Thank you to the breeders who use the top young bulls. A bright future is ahead.

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The Hot House Effect on Sire Sampling

Since the Bullvine started in February (and even before), I have had many dedicated breeders ask me ‘Why do the Artificial Insemination companies keep going back to the same herds for young bulls when few if any bulls from those herds ever make it to active proven status?”’ That prompted me to ask – is that true?

Answering the tough questions

For many breeders it can be hard to determine which herds they should use young sires from and which ones they shouldn’t. For many AI companies, and sire analysts they have had their thoughts about which herds are hot and which ones are not, but never had the numbers to prove it. This has us asking has genomics truly eliminated the hothouse effect in sire sampling (read more – Has Genomics Knocked Out Hot House Herds). In true Bullvine style we decided to tackle this tough question to help breeders have confidence in which genomic tested young sires to use. We first took a look at all the herds that had more than one sire receive their first official proof in the August 2012 proof run.

Here is what we found:


In comparing the columns here is what we found:

HerdCountDGV vs. OfficialPA vs. OfficialGPA Vs. Official

(For a complete listing of sires and calculations click here)

In wanting to see if the Aug ’12 results were just a point in time for these herds or if it was truly reflective, we decided to look at all the bulls proven since the introduction of genomics (Aug 2009) from these same eight herds. Here is what we found:


Again comparing the columns here is what we found:

HerdCountDGV vs. OfficialPA vs. OfficialGPA Vs. Official

(For a complete listing of sires and calculations click here)

Let the numbers do the talking

In studying proven bulls we found that most of them fall within the range for difference between the individual bull’s parent averages and official proof of 150-200 LPI points. And for most of the herds hear falling within that same range.

To go deeper and identify which sires are the best sires to sample, and for breeders to use and which sires should not be sampled or used we took a closer look at how DGV’s, Parent Averages and GPA LPI’s compared to their Estimated Daughter Performance*. Here is what we found:

HerdCountEDP*EDP vs. OfficialDGV vs. EDPPA vs. EDPGPA vs. EDP

*Please note to calculate Estimated Daughter Performance we took each sire’s official proof and back solved considering his DGV and PA using the published CDN formulas and weightings.

These results are consistent with our previous findings that DGV’s are by far the most accurate indicator of which sires you should use/sample. As well, why you should not use sires that have DGV’s below their parent averages (read more – 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Genomic Sires With DGV’s Lower Than Their Parent Averages)

The Bullvine Bottom Line

For both breeders and A.I. companies it can be very challenging trying to figure out which genomic tested sires to use and which breeding programs they should consider investing in. As we have found out the numbers tell the whole truth. Genomic results do give us very reliable information. While it may be true that for some of herds it can be said that they breed better female than male bloodlines. Nevertheless, that does not fully explain why A.I. companies have continued to sample bulls from some herds. It also does not justify why sire sampling herds should be asked to take on the risk in their herd improvement programs. As one of my breeder friends often tells me – use the best, cull or ignore the rest.

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7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Sires with DGV’s lower than Their Parent Averages

In our recent article, Is the Genomic System Really Working? we pointed out that the early numbers indicate that the genomic system is a 27.1% improvement over the old system.  In taking a closer look, we also noticed an interesting trend that sires with LPI DGV’s (Direct Genomic Values) lower than their parent average actually did a nose dive, when they added daughter information.

In God we trust.  All others must bring data

Now some of you would say that the system is already putting too much weight on DGV’s and that it is too early.  I get that.  However, here are some actual facts from the most recent proof round (August 2012) for you to consider. (Again please note we use the CDN system as a result of being able to have access to the genomic information on it.):

  1. For the sires who dropped more than 200 GLPI points from their genomic parent average index to their official proof, 96% (25/26) of them had DGV LPI’s lower than their parent averages.  Note that 118 bulls received official proofs in the CDN system in August 2012.
  2. For sires with DGV’s higher than PA’s, 33% (11/33) actually increased their LPI ratings with the addition of daughter data.
  3. When we take a look at the 5 sires who took the biggest jump with the addition of daughter information when compared to their parent average (COMESTAR LAUTREC, L-RIDGEVIEW NOAK-ET, GEN-I-BEQ BRAWLER, OCONNORS JAY, FAVREAUTIERE GRIZZLY) we notice that they on average had DGV LPI’s that were on average 536 LPI points higher than their parent averages.
  4.  Conversely when we look at the 5 sires who dropped the most (BIG TIME WILTON, STANTONS BRAKE, EXPRESS DOLSUNN, STANTONS UNLIMITED, WEST PORT BRUTUS) we notice that on average they have DGV LPI values over 1000 points lower than that of their parent averages.
  5. When you take the top 5 sires with the highest DGV LPI values (GEN-I-BEQ BRAWLER, OCONNORS JAY, MORSAN BORIS, EXPRESS BOLLY, COMESTAR LAUTREC) they on average had an increase of 151 LPI points with the addition of daughter information.
  6. Of the 33 sires that increased with the addition of daughter information 30 of them had DGV’s higher than their parent averages.  That compares to only 3 of the 83 sires who dropped having DGV LPI’s higher that their parent averages.
  7. So then it comes to the question, “what if a sire has high genomic values but they are just below his parent averages?”  To answer that, we looked at the sires that had GPA LPI’s of over 2000 and DGV’s lower than their parent averages (ARDROSS STERLING, STANTONS UNLIMITED, and STANTONS BRAKE).They dropped by an average of 787 points with the addition of daughter information.  Conversely those sires that where over 2000 GPA LPI points and had DGV’s higher than their PA’s (GEN-I-BEQ BRAWLER and MORSAN BORIS) actually increased by an average of 134 over their GPA LPI values.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While the numbers are still early, the facts clearly indicate the merits of only using sires who have DGV’s higher than their parent average.  No matter how high they are.  Breeders need to have access to the DGV LPI values for the young sires they help sample for breeding companies.

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Is the Genomic System Really Working?

With Genomic sampled sires starting to get proofs, many breeders are finding themselves asking, “Is genomics really working?” Since it takes about 36 months for a sire to be sampled this is the first round we can start to evaluate the genomic system since its release in August 2009. To answer that question we decided to take a close look at how the system is working and if there are any early trends indicating if it is or not.

New Release Sire Performance over the past 2 Years

Probably this first place to look is how the young sire sampling programs are working proof round over proof round. (Due to the access of information, we are using the CDN system for this analysis).


# of New Release

Average LPI*

# >2000 LPI





























*not base adjusted

Let`s start with the good news. The breed has been advancing when factoring in the base change. Now the not so good news, when compared to previous rounds at delivering top sires the numbers are not so pretty. As you can see by the table above, the last two proof rounds have not been so favorable for genetic advancement). We see the lowest average LPI from the sire sampling programs, with also the lowest number of elite sires being proven. This caused us great concern about the merits of the genomic system at delivering top sires and so we decided to look even deeper.

What’s going wrong? Or Right?

To get a better understanding of just why this last round was the 2nd lowest performing round in the past years (only behind Apr 2012) we decided to look at the group of young sires receiving proofs this round and discover whether it`s the system or how we`re using it.

In order to determine this we figured it would be best to compare the old system, top 10 parent average LPI (PA LPI) sires to the Top 10 Genomic sires (GPA LPI) and see how they stacked up. For the record her are the two groups.


The results are as follows:





Top 10 GPA LPI




As you can see from the table above the GPA LPI sires outperformed the PA LPI sires by 27.1% indicating that the GPA system is a better indicator of estimated performance than the old PA system. In actuality, the top 10 GPA LPI sires actually increased their numbers by 3%, contrary to the expected drop. Even all 119 sires only averaged a drop of 89 points (9%) contrary to some other stats showing sires drop upwards of 20% from GPA LPI to the official LPI proof.

It’s also important to note that with an average official LPI proof of 2033 (445 points for base change) would have this group rank #5 behind the August 2009 proof round behind (Shottle, Justice, Goldwyn and Ashlar) with BRAWLER’s base adjusted proof (3083=2638+445) falling behind Shottle’s August 2009 proof of 3873.

So if it’s Not the System, What Is the Problem?

As the analysis of the PA LPI system vs. the GPA LPI system above indicates the issue is not the system. So then the question becomes, is it how we are using the system? Or are we just going through a lull? That question is tricky to answer. If we look at a longer period trend using currently available data from CDN we see that the two proof rounds before this period where even lower performing than the last two proof rounds.

Round # of New Release Average LPI # >2000 LPI









It may also be that as an industry we are still very much learning how to use the Genomics system and sire selection practices have to adjust for these changes. When we look at the PA LPI list vs. the GPA LPI list we see two herds whose sires on average drop between 400 and 600 LPI points. Can we say hot house effect? (to read more Has Genomics Knocked Out Hot House Herds?)

The Bullvine Bottom Line

It is still early to weigh the success or failure of Genomics. The early indicators show that it is a 27.1% improvement over the old PA system. There is still much room for refinement and education on both the breeder side and the sire sampling side!

The Dairy Breeders No BS Guide to Genomics


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Genetic Evaluations – Why the Sky Is Not Falling

As more and more early high genomic young sires are getting their daughter proofs in next week, I am sure we are going to hear that the sky is falling.  And yes, while there is much certainty that the bulls may drop, that in no way indicates that genomics does not work.

As early proofs have indicated, the large majority of genomic sires will drop.  But that should not have everyone running for the hills.  Instead, what you should do is look at 2 key metrics:  1) How they compare to the proven sires that where available at the same time as the breeding  2) The percentage that are returned to service.

Why genomic bulls may drop

While critics would say that any drop is not acceptable, that just shows that they do not understand how the system works.  There are other reasons that bulls may drop that most breeders may not consider;   here are a few reasons:

  • Hot House Effect
    While we all would like to believe that the system is faultless, that is just not the case.  It’s important to remember that proofs are first and foremost based on herd variation and genetic gain over their parents.  So if a genomic sire is used on a dam who maybe lost a teat, or was sick as a calf and did not develop to her full genetic potential, this will have a huge advantage for the genomic sire.  Same is true if breeders are looking to work that system.  By that, I mean they are going to have other genomic cattle in the herd that do not receive the same level of attention as the families that they are working to have succeeded. (read more here:  Has Genomics Knocked Out The Hot House Effect)
  • Higher Quality Dams
    In the past, young sires were used on G and the odd time a GP dam, but never on your high scoring 2yr olds.  But with genomics, we see sires being used on VG 2 yr olds.  Unless the progeny can score higher than the dam (not account for herd variance), it will be next to impossible for that bull to receive a positive type proof, let alone one that will allow them to be a breed leader.   However, the potential for these sires to have the exact opposite effect is very possible, for instance, they were used on a VG-87 2yr old and her resulting progeny ending up a GP-80 2yr old.  The sire will actually receive a much lower type score as a result.  In reality, it is better to compare and note the similarities between a genomic sires daughter proof to a 2nd crop proof of the past.
  • System Improvements
    As mentioned in the hot house bullet above, the system is not perfect.   These early proofs are based on the best educated guess that the geneticist could do given the data provided.  As more data is available it will be possible to refine the system.  The most useful data they will get will be these early genomic sires with daughter proofs.  This will allow them to see how effects such as being used on higher quality dams will have and how they can adjust the system to account for this.

Does it matter?

The critics will say that the AI companies could care less if the bulls drop.  They have sold so much semen on these young sires at such high rates that they have already made their profit.  And yes, this is partly true.  There is no question that a high genomic young sire will probably become a significant profit as compared to the past when they were a $50,000 investment.   And then there is still the issue of credibility.  It does not take long or many sires killing pedigrees before the clients of these AI companies will start losing business. The other part of the equation is that often these same AI companies have used these sires as sires of sons in their own programs, resulting in a significant risk for their programs and future profits as well.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

What breeders need to remember is, yes, genomic sires may drop.  But instead of running around like Chicken Little announcing the sky is falling, what they need to do is compare those same sires to the proven sires that were at the top of list at the time when they made the breeding decision.  From a systems perspective, it is better to look at what percentage of these genomic young sires are return to service.  This will indicate if the system is working or not.

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Old School Dairy Breeders – Stop Pissing On Genomics

Old school breeder pissing on genomics!!!!

Recently as part of our weekend humor series we published the picture seen at the right.  In publishing the image we knew we would get a reaction, but we were surprised at the way breeders interpreted it.  While we intended to show how old school breeders are dissing on genomics, but instead it seemed to become a rallying cry for old school dairy breeders.

The conversation that has stemmed from it has been very interesting.   As you can see, there are still many breeders who don’t totally understand the merits of using top genomic young sires.  In an effort to help educate, or maybe just bang my head against the wall, we have prepared the following details. .

Proven vs. Young Sire – Who wins in the long run?

Let’s take a comparison of the top 10 Genomics Young Sires vs. the Top 10 Proven sires from the April 2012 proof run.  Of course we all know that the genomic young sires will have higher breeding values, but we need to account for the expected drop.  Our analysis of the NAAB genomic sires’ proofs vs. their later daughter proven proofs currently shows a 13.8% drop on TPI.  (Note: we are actually tracking the drop on LPI sires, TPI sires and PLI sires, and so far we see them dropping 9.7%, 13.8%, and 13.5% respectively.)

The following table shows where the current top genomic sires would rank compared to the proven sires options available currently.

[csv2table source=”” icons=”true”]

What Does This Mean?

What you notice is that three of the top current genomic young sires (Numero Uno, Supersire, and McCutchen) would all rank among the top 10 proven sires.  In fact, 25 of the top 50 sires would be genomic young sires.  This is not to say that they will all drop the 13.8% that the average sire has already.  They could drop more or less.  However, what it does show is that these young genomic sires have a much higher predictability than in the past.  You can now use a group of these young sires with much greater confidence than in the past.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Are all the top genomic sires, going to end up on the top of the proven sires list, when they have daughter progeny?  No, of course not.  But what we have been finding is that only about 10% of them drop off the top list, and many of them hold pretty strong.  We have even found some genomic sires that actually go up with daughter information.  What it does mean?  Use genomic sires that are within 10% of the top sires.  If they have GTPI values of 2,300 or greater, you will end up ahead of where you would have been, if you had not used any genomic sires at all.  Just remember this is an average.  The movement will not be exactly the same for all sires, hence the need to spread out your young sire usage.

For all those old school breeders, who are pissing on genomics, well what can I say?  I don’t expect to change your mind. However, it is foolish to piss on something that you don’t understand.  Might I recommend that you read our free guide – The Dairy Breeders “No BS” Guide to Genomics.

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The most nevus day in most breeders lives.

The most nevus day in most breeders lives.

Some decisions are just too hard to make....

Some decisions are just too hard to make….

"You been Flushing Long"

“You been Flushing Long”

It's a good thing dairy breeders don't look at woman the way they do dairy cattle!!!

It’s a good thing dairy breeders don’t look at woman the way they do dairy cattle!!!

When you're having a bad day. Just think......

When you’re having a bad day. Just think……


GENOMICS: Big Dollar Opportunities are Adding Up

Is the glass half-full or half empty?  The comment is often heard that genomics has yet to prove itself.   When index breeding for production traits came on the scene forty years ago, it too was seen as the new kid on the block.  In response,  The Bullvine has decided to compile a list of points could be considered significant dollar opportunities  Please note that these dollar values are derived from the Canadian situation but the general principles can be applied elsewhere.

Sample Only the Best Young Sires

Eliminating the need to sample the bottom 60% of 550 young sires (all breeds) will save the Canadian industry $16.5 M per year.  Add to that, eliminating the loss that producers bear when they must cull daughters of low genetic merit young sires and it is over $20M in savings by genomically testing all young sires and only sampling the top sires.

Turning Generations

Generation interval is extremely important in determining the rate of genetic advancement in a population of food producing livestock.  Shortening the generation interval, by using genomics to more accurately identify the top heifers and young bulls, will decrease the generation interval by one year, when 30% of the population is bred to young genomically tested young sires. That will increase the rate of genetic advancement by 25% per year.  However the rate of usage of genomically tested young sires is fast approaching 50% which equates to a reduction in generation interval of two years. This results in a 60% gain in genetic advancement.  Research has shown that that 60% gain is worth $30M annually for the traits that are currently included in the LPI formula.

Increased Accuracy

When considering the accuracy, with which we know the breeding values of the animal in a population, there are many points to consider:

  • Conducting a low density panel test on all heifer calves in a population of cows has a cost. It also has the benefit of having a totally accurate herdbook, no wrong assignments of parents and these help in genetic evaluations.
  • Knowing the genomic values for all females means that those genetic merit females can be used as recipients or can be fattened and sold for meat.

Identifying the elite females in a population greatly enhances the rewards that can be reaped from using only the best as dams of the next generation. Putting a dollar value on increased accuracy on the female side of a population is not easy to do but by The Bullvine’s calculation it would yield $20M per year in net terms for Canada’s dairy farmers.

Beyond Canada there are great populations of dairy cattle that contribute to the advancement of the genetic merit of dairy cattle everywhere.  Knowing the genomic values of these animals will greatly help North America advance their populations, especially for breeds with numerically smaller numbers.

Traits under Selection

As The Bullvine has reported (read Is Your Breeding Strategy a Field of Dreams) selecting for traits beyond milk, fat, protein, SCC and conformation will become possible with the use of genomics.  Already The Bullvine has learned from our followers that they look forward to knowing in genetic terms details for feed efficiency, production limiting disease resistance, calf health and liveability, reproduction traits and more.  Putting an industry dollar value on knowing the growth of those additional traits is not possible at this time.  But it will be quite a significant number.


This article will not spend time addressing inbreeding as it has been addressed previously in The Bullvine (read Inbreeding: Does Genomics Affect The Balancing Act).  Suffice to say at this time inbreeding can be handled when selection uses genomic values.  Not previously mentioned by the Bullvine on inbreeding is the fact that in dairy cattle populations beyond Holsteins there is considerable benefit to using genomics to select semen and embryos from outside a country’s borders.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

So far in this article, The Bullvine has been able to identify over $70M to $100M in annual benefit to Canadian dairy breeders alone from the use of genomics.  That means $10,000 annually for each and every breeder.  So is the glass half full or half empty when it comes to using genomics? How do you see it?
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Are You Ready For Genetically Modified Cattle?

The recent announcement by Canadian Dairy Network, Holstein Canada, Pfizer Animal Health, The Semex Alliance and its owner partners to support delivery of genetic services to the Canadian dairy industry got me thinking about what the future holds for the dairy breeding industry.  This alliance has me drawing parallels to what has occurred in the corn industry and the effects that had on consumers as well as producers.

While the announcement just covers the identification of genetic markers that has already revolutionized the dairy breeding industry, the part that catches my attention is a company the size of Pfizer entering into the marketplace.  When Monsanto entered into the corn breeding industry, it not only became a competitor to the other established players but it also used its vast resources to take the process to a completely new level.  While Monsanto had been a market leader for many years in the sale of herbicides this research gave them the ability to apply their expertise on the genetic level.

With Pfizer entering the genomics game, does that mean that we will start to see them  offer their own genetics available for sale that have been bred or rather modified to be disease resistant or even worse modified to produce more milk, or have better feet and legs.  If you thought the manipulation of photos to make cattle look better was an issue (read more here Has Photo Enhancement Gone Too Far), what happens when they can do it on the genomic level?  While the practical side of me sees how having cattle that are more disease resistant, that is polled and milk 20,000 kgs, for 10+ lacations would be beneficial, the breeder in me has concerns.  Part of what makes animal breeding great is the fact that it’s an art form.  What happens when that art form is handed over to science?

One thing that you will know for sure is that the sale of animal genetics will become a commoditized market place dominated by the big players such as Pfizer, Monsanto, and other multinational conglomerates.  While there is no question that these conglomerates will dominate over the average breeder, they will also dominate over the current major A.I. companies.  It has me asking myself “Is this move by Semex a step in building a partnership because they see the future coming?”  If so good on them for at least being proactive and at least trying to sustain their long-term viability.

If it’s more by chance, as I think it is, I think the whole industry needs to look at what the future holds and maybe have a wakeup call to where this is all heading.  Animal breeding is becoming big business, as evidenced by companies like Select Sires that have expanded their breeding programs to include owning females (read more about this at Should A.I. Companies Own Females?).  As the ability to deliver predictable results at a lower cost of development continues, larger and larger companies will enter the marketplace and begin to dominate the current players.

In the past, dairy cattle breeding has benefited from great moves, such as happened when T.B. Macauley, an insurance executive, started Montvic, when J. Rockafeller Prentice, from oil and banking fame, started A.B.S. and, likewise, when Peter Heffering, using outside industry investors, collected great cows and started Hanover Hill Holsteins.

There is also the consumer side to this equation.  We all witnessed consumer reaction to the use of rBST.  Over time while there has remained a small portion of the marketplace that actively buys non-rBST milk.  However, for the most part the issue has died off.  In the same way, the GMO corn issue has died off and much of the general public is not even aware that it exists.  Thus, there may be uproar as this “new technology” enters the marketplace, however, in time, the result will be the same for this commoditized product.  As long as the cost to consumer is lower, they will buy it.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

On the one hand, Thanks to genomics, the future of the animal breeding industry has never look brighter.  On the other hand, it also may be facing its greatest risk. Genomics has taken animal breeding from an art form to a science.  Furthermore, science will continue to define and refine the process.  With companies like Pfizer entering the marketplace this process will be accelerated at a completely new pace.  Those players that have the most resources available will also dominate it.  This means that the average breeder, as well as the current A.I. companies, need to realistically consider what the future holds as this happens.

So my question to you is, are you ready for GMC (Genetically Modified Cattle)?

Why the Ability for Breeders to Test Their Own Bulls Will NOT Change the World

For years breeders have been saying how they would do things differently than the big A.I. companies.  In March of 2013 they are going to get their chance.  While many top breeders are already licking their lips at the opportunity, there are some key factors I don’t think they have considered that may not change things as much as they think.  The following is a closer look at these issues.


When Calbrett-I H H Champion hit for GenerVations, the biggest challenge was not marketing but rather distribution.  Here is a company who had been a distributor for many international A.I. companies that now had to turn the table and sell back to these companies.  Fortunately, for GenerVations they were able to do so and leverage the network they had already developed in order to get Champion semen out to the world.  However, what is the typical breeder going to do?  Sure, you may be able to move some semen through the internet or advertising your bulls in the major publications, but that will not pay the bills.  A global distribution network that can move your semen is a must.  Only one person can have the #1 bull, for all others you had better have a cost effective distribution network, or your dreams of becoming the next great Albert Cormier or Doug Blair will fizzle before they even start.

Frequent Genomic Releases

With new genomic bulls coming out monthly, you could be on the top of the list one month and not even in the top 10 the next.  This provides for a very short run for peak sales and means you will not always be able to sell your genomic young sire semen for $50+ a dose.  More likely, you are looking at a $20-30 average price, and that is assuming you are still in the top 50.  Fall out of the top 50 genomic sires in the world and you can kiss sales good-bye.

Cost of Production

Breeders wishing to prove their own sires will have to use one of the approved semen collection facilities.  Certainly, many of these facilities will offer competitive rates, but they need to operate at a profit too.  While working with the largest A.I. company in the world, we knew that the cost per semen collected averaged between $4 and $5.  To get your semen dose collected you are typically looking at $7 – $10 a dose.  Big deal you say, a couple of dollars less.  Well actually it is.  When large semen orders come in, they operate on blend price for the order.  Depending on the situation they are from $10 – $12 a dose.  That $3-$5 a dose difference could mean the difference between profit and loss.  Don’t think you need those large bulk orders?  Think again, you will find they are your lifeblood for cash flow.

Aggressive Lease Options from Current A.I. Companies

We have already started to see it.  Gone are the fixed sales price of $5,000 -$10,000 or the capped leases at $100,000.  The major A.I. companies have already started to get very aggressive on the lease options they offer.  Smaller A.I. companies have already been forced to get extremely aggressive in order to procure top genomic young sires.  It’s also for these reasons that we are starting to see more bulls being sold in top sales, as it provides the ability to set the bar higher for many breeders.  It’s also for these reasons that you have noticed many players starting to buy top females, as the cost to buy them is actually cheaper than the cost to contract their sons.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While the ability to test their own sires will certainly affect the lease agreements, they get from the A.I.  companies it will not be the total game changer that everyone is expecting it to be.  What it will do is make the current A.I. become even more competitive and have to trim their own fat.  Breeders sampling and selling their own bulls and not selling their bulls to A.I. seems a promising opportunity. However, the thought that it is going to totally change the way bulls are sampled and sold is farfetched.  From the cost of production to distribution there are many factors that eager breeders have not yet given enough consideration.


What the Experts Won’t Tell You about the Future of the A.I. Industry

Having grown up working with the Canadian Association of Animal Breeders, to working directly with some of the largest A.I. centers in the world, to running our own genetic programs that had many top LPI cattle, I have had the opportunity to learn the semen sales and marketing world from a variety of perspectives.  From this frontline view I have never seen as much change as the A. I. industry is now experiencing with Genomics.  With all these changes, the question becomes “What does the future hold for the AI industry?”

Genetic Advantage

It used to be that every artificial insemination center could claim an advantage in a certain product offering.  Semex would claim a type advantage that over the years converted to a longevity value, in order to appeal to the much larger commercial market, instead of just elite breeders looking for the next great show cattle.  ABS global added product lines and partnerships such as Judges Choice to counter moves such as Semex’s and included strong type offering to their very commercial product line.  Every AI center jockeyed back and forth to show how their genetic product offering was different.  Even when they overlapped, they would claim greater reliability or stability based on the country or system of origin.

Then along came genomics and wiped all that out. 

Today when you look at all the major A.I. centers products, you could take the name and stud code off and you would be hard pressed to notice any difference.  They all try to offer a complete product line.  Moreover, with the reliability, and ability to take the system or country of origin out of it, they all have pretty reliable product.  This almost completely eliminates any genetic advantage that any A.I. center has.

It has been very interesting to watch companies like Select Sires take to owning top bloodlines in a big way (to read more check out Should A.I. Companies Own Females?).  This may be the only way that A.I. companies can differentiate their genetic advantage.  Buy owning the top females these genetics companies (at this point, they are no longer just an A.I. company), are able to develop distinct bloodlines that none of their competitors can have.  This is only going to change more when breeders have full access to genomic information in 2013 and may start to sample and prove their own sires.

Think about it.  I remember back when I was working with GenerVations, and Champion hit as #1 in Canada.  We marketed the heck out of the fact that he was the best in Canada.  We relied on the world’s confidence in the Canadian system to promote that this new, small A.I. center had a reliable product.  We blasted that message around the world making sure everyone knew that GenerVations had the #1 in the world.  Because we all knew that there was about a 2-3 year window before competitors would have their own Champion sons, or he would no longer be the top bull.  Today we are looking at an even smaller window of opportunity. .  With new genomics bulls coming out pretty much monthly, things can change in a heartbeat.  The Select Sires program at least gives them 8 months advantage on the sires and total control over the dams (since they own them).  This gives them the ability to offer their customers a distinct advantage by doing business with them.  Some may look at it negatively and yet, from a purely business perspective, it makes total sense.  In the end, it will look like a very shrewd investment in a market in which it   so is hard to differentiate yourself.

Service vs. Price

Therefore, when you can no longer differentiate your company on product, it only leaves you two other options, service, and price.  You are either going to become the Wal-Mart of the A.I. world or you are going to become Nordstroms’s.  Both can exist in the same market place you just have to become extremely great at what makes you different.

If you want to become the Wal-Mart of the A.I. world, you are going to offer the lowest price for a very commercial product.  This means you need to have your production facilities running super efficiently and your overhead at a bare minimum.  This position plays extremely well to commercial producers who are looking for the lowest costs possible.  For years, companies like ABS, Alta Genetics, and Select have battled very aggressively.  Since most of these companies more or less were just selling a commodity, there really was not any brand loyalty.  Since most large herds did their own insemination work, they eliminated the close link that is developed between producer and the A.I. center through the regular visits by the technicians doing the insemination work.  While the major A.I. companies tried to lock in that connection again by offering mating programs and other services, since they all were pretty much the same and, often, not used by producers, they were only able to gain marginal difference.  And like the Wal-Mart model, margins are tight and profits are slim.

Therefore, if you cannot compete on product and you cannot compete on price, that only leaves service.  With the majority of the marketplace doing their own insemination, A.I. companies have to look outside the scope of traditional marketplace to provide services.  While this has been the case for many years in the commercial marketplace, it is also fast becoming the case in the entire marketplace.  While you may be able to get a slight premium when you have the #1 bull, otherwise you will live and die by the quality of service you offer your customers.  We have already seen this happen.  Many A.I. companies have gone to offering many non-genetic products in order to become a complete service organization, rather than just a supplier of genetics.

Also of interest, is how the roles of sales and sire analysts have also changed.  While many have called the modern sire analyst a glorified tail hair puller, they are now becoming more of a breeding advisor mixed with a negotiation specialist.  This is exactly what they have to do.  They can provide insight to breeders about the daughters of the top mating sires and maybe a little insight that his proof will not tell you.  Even more so, they are now the chief negotiator for their A.I. center.  If I were a GM of an A.I. company, I would invest heavily in negotiation and relationship building training for these individuals.  Realistically, unless you run a program like Select Sires, this will be your only way to get the top sires from many breeders.

The Bottom Line

Like most mature market places, there is little room for grey areas when it comes to the future of the A.I. industry and where the major A.I. companies position themselves.  It will take strong action now either to develop very aggressive genetic programs like Select Sires has, or you will need to decide if you are going to be the lowest cost provider or offer the greatest service.  And yes, I know there are many small micro A.I. companies that will be able to turn a profit.  I get that, they are able to keep their overhead so low that they will be able to offer a niche product to small segments of the market place.  However, when it comes to the big players, they need to ask themselves, “Am I going to get aggressive and develop distinct bloodlines?”  “Are we going to be the lowest price provider?” Alternatively, “Are we going to become legendary for the quality of our service?” Anything that is a smorgasbord of these will only end in extinction in the end.  Don’t think so?  Look what happened to your local hardware store, when Home Depot moved in, or the independent grocer, when Wal-Mart put up one of their super centers in the same community.  Where do you shop today?  Who will be your provider tomorrow?

What do you think?  Comment below our join the discussion on our facebook page.

Top 10 Genomic TPI Young Sires Review – April 2012

With 8 of the top 10 Genomic TPI™ young sires being themselves sons of young sires, there is no question that breeders of these top animals have confidence in genomics and are using it to shorten their genetic intervals.
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The following is our analysis of the top 10 GTPI young sires from the April 2012 Genetic Evaluations:



Holding on to his #1 spot despite 7 new members in the top 10, NUMERO UNO from Semex possess an international pedigree.  Sired by a MAN-O-MAN he is only one of two sires on this list that are not themselves sired by young sires.  His dam AMIGHETTI SHOTTLE AVE VG-88-2YR-ITA in an unparalleled Italian source for GTPI.  The foundation of the family is Center-Field Elevation Berta, directly imported from the U.S. Watch for NUMERO UNO to sire well-balanced cattle that have strong mammary systems and great feet and legs.  Surprisingly watch for him to be an outstanding Rump improver that you may not expect from a Man-O-Man son.  A couple of areas that he may not perform as well as his sire stack may indicate are his overall production and protein kgs.  NUMERO UNO will mate well with typical daughters of Planet, Bolton, Stol Joc and Mr Burns.




#2 on the GTPI list is SUPERSIRE, the more genomicically gifted of the Robust full brothers from AMMON-PEACHEY SHAUNA VG-87-2YR-USA who is the popular Planet bull dam at Seagull-Bay. Both being sampled at Select Sires, and tracing back to WESSWOOD-HC RUDY MISSY EX-92-3E USA DOM GMD.  SUPERSIRE himself is a son of a test sire ROYLANE SOCRA ROBUST (Socrates x O-Man) that is from another Seagull-Bay cow family SEAGULL-BAY OMAN MIRROR VG-86-3YR-USA DOM who is the #1 O Man of the breed.  SUPERSIRE sires outstanding production with solid components and sound durability and health and fertility traits.  SUPERSIRE will sire solid confirmation across the board.  Watch for SUPERSIRE to sire much better components than his full brother.  Though some may consider it risky using a young sire who himself is a son of a young sire, SUPERSIRE will work well on many of the top sires though he needs to be protected on milking speed.




Also from Select sires comes MCCUTCHEN from SULLY SHOTTLE MAY VG-85-3YR-USA DOM. May is believed to have more offspring genomic tested over 2200 & 2300 GPTI than any other cow in the breed.  MCCUTCHEN is himself a son of a young sire DE-SU 521 BOOKEM (Planet x Ramos).  MCCUTCHEN`s genomic pattern shows the potential to sire extreme balance of production and conformation with the potential for breed leading conformation with the ability to improve all major composites.  Similar to SUPERSIRE, MCCUTCHEN will work well on many of the top sires though he needs to be protected on milking speed.



The full brother to #2 on the list, SUPERSIRE, HEADLINER will sire a little more protein than his higher ranked full brother.  The biggest difference between the two may be SUPERSIRES ability to leave more desirable rumps.  HEADLINER and his full brother SUPERSIRE are a testament to keeping the genetic interval as tight as possible, with the tight cross of young sire on Planet then Shottle followed by O Man and Rudolph.  Their dam Shauna has the unique ability to sire top ranking sires in both the US (TPI) and Canada (LPI). HEADLINER will work well on many of the top sires though he needs to be protected on milking speed and calving ease.




The second of the previous top 10 GTPI young sires to retain his top rank is MOGUL.  He, is also a son of a young sire COYNE-FARMS DORCY and like many others on this list is also from Select Sires.  MOGUL is a testament to his strong maternal lines as his EBV’s far outperforms his sire stack.  Look for MOGUL to offer a strong balanced offering but needs to be protected on his rump.  Though he will leave much greater dairyness and strength than this sire stack would indicate.  Similar to SUPERSIRE and HEADLINER, MOGUL’s maternal pedigree traces back to WESSWOOD-HC RUDY MISSY EX-92-3E USA DOM GMD.  Mogul’s Dam MOUNTFIELD MARSH MAXINE VG-88-2YR-USA DOM being a great granddaughter.  MOGUL offers a nice outcross as there is no GOLDWYN, PLANET, or SHOTTLE in it.  MOGUL makes a nice cross for SHOTTLE bloodlines.




Continuing their dominance of the top GTPI lists Select adds LITHIUM.  Similar to the other additions LITHIUM is himself a son of a young sire, RONELEE TOYSTORY DOMAIN (Toystory x Outside) from Trans-America Genetics.  LITHIUM is a riskier choice to use, as his Genomic values are significantly lower than that of his parent averages, or sire stack would indicate.  Of specific note is the much lower values for dairy strength, rump, fat and overall production.  LITHIUM will sire strong udders and feet and legs with solid production.  Though additional consideration should be given to lactation persistency and milking speed.


#7 – DE-SU 1263 “RANSOM”

DE-SU 1263

From Androgenetics comes another ROYLANE SOCRA ROBUST (Socrates x O-Man) son.  Similar to SUPERSIRE and HEADLINER, RANSOM is genomically gifted beyond his sire stack, transmitting much more milk, fat and rump improvement than his pedigree would indicate.  RANSOM will sire extreme improvement in feet and legs though may need to be protected on dairy strength.  Continuing in the breeding pattern of other sires from De-Su, RANSOM has a tight genetic sire stack with a young sire being used on a Romas daughter from Shottle followed by O Man.




At this rate we are going to need to start to call this the Select Sires New Release list (For more on this read Should A.I. Companies Own Females?).  Like so many others on this list, DADDY is a son of a young sire himself (For more on this read The Genomic Advancement Race – The Battle For Genetic Supremacy) that also traces back to breeding at De-Su.  His sire is Observer (Planet x O Man) son of DE-SU OMAN 6121-ET VG-86-2YR-USA DOM GMD.  However, unlike many of the other sires on our list after his sire, DADDY’s pedigree is actually a little dated and contributes to him being one of the lowest sire stacks in the top 10.  This puts a lot of weight on his sire to carry a lot of the genetic weight.  Daddy will sire strong production though will need to be protected on Fat.  The surprising part, given his sire stack, will be his ability to sire strong dairy cattle that walk on a solid set of feet and legs.  However, much like his pedigree predicts he will need to be protected on Feet & Legs.  His daughters should be extremely durable though may need to be protected on milking speed.




Would you be surprised if I told you that PUNCH is also from Select?  Well he is.  Again he is a son of young sire, Boxer (Shottle x Goldwyn) that is from the Barbie’s at Regancrest.  PUNCH is a brother to the heavily used young sire ROBUST, that is the sire of SUPERSIRE, HEADLINER, and RANSOM from our top list.  Watch for PUNCH to sire strong components and very balanced type.  Watch for PUNCH to sire much more durable daughters with better health traits that his sire stack would indicate.  His daughters will be much stronger than you would expect with O Man, Manat, and Celsius in the pedigree.  While his daughters may not be as high production as others, watch for PUNCH to add the balanced that you would expect from the conformation from his paternal side and production from the maternal side.




The third sire of the previous top 10 sires to maintain their status on the list, DAY, offers a great combination of type and production.  While DAY’s pedigree might spell just average type watch for him to be a potential breed leader.  He will sire outstanding udders, feet & legs and surprisingly rumps and strength.  The part that he does not live up to his pedigree or sire stack on is his production.  He does need to be protected on production, though he will sire better components than expected.

For more information check out The Bullvine Bull Book or our Genetic Evaluation Resource Center.

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