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Genomic Indexes Bring New Generation of Bulls

11 April 2012

UK - The UK’s first ever genomic indexes have now been published and herald a new era of cattle breeding for dairy farmers. Bringing for the first time a new generation of young Holstein bulls into the spotlight, their indexes - estimated from their genomic profile - represent a step up from the daughter-proven sire list.

Like many on this new DairyCo Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI) ranking, the number one bull - Gen-I-Beq Lavaman - is a son of Man-O-Man. Offering the prospect of good production traits (431kg milk with high fat and protein percentages), outstanding health traits and the best calving ease score on the list, he’ll be an easy bull to use. His PLI is a massive £252.

Lavaman stands ahead of another bull with the same cross (Man-O-Man x Goldwyn) in the shape of Pirolo Solemio (PLI £237). This high type transmitter looks equally solid across the board with good milk, fat, protein and health traits.

Third ranking Ladys-Manor RD Grafeeti (PLI £227) is a son of Badger-Bluff Fanny Freddie, a US Oman son which failed to qualify for UK import. Grafeeti excels for daughter fertility, cell counts and overall type, and is again out of a Goldwyn dam.

Fourth position is taken by the leading UK sire in the shape of Denmire Merchandise, a son of Mainstream Manifold from the Cumbria-based Dennison family’s top index cow, Denmire Goldwyn Marie 102. Housed in Hungary and being progeny tested worldwide, Merchandise transmits outstanding fat production at 32.7kg, good health traits and solid type and has a PLI of £226.

Yet another Man-O-Man/Goldwyn cross features in number five position in the shape of Genervations Lexor, a bull transmitting outstanding fat plus protein at 57kg, good feet and legs and a PLI of £225.

Man-O-Man blends with Picston Shottle to produce the number six sire, Amighetti Numero Uno, with a PLI of £224. This bull excels for cell counts, overall type (Type Merit 2.93) and udder conformation in particular, and stands ahead of the second British sire.

Bred in Cornwall by the Wills family, Willsbro Gateau (Man-O-Man x Goldwyn), ranks equal seventh on PLI at £223, and transmits high fat plus protein (55kg) and good legs and feet.

Ranking in equal seventh position, HFP AltaKing represents a slight change in bloodlines (Super x Buckeye) and a change of breeding pattern as by far the highest milk production bull in the top 25 with 1,063kg milk and 59kg fat plus protein. Also transmitting high type including good udder conformation, he stands ahead of two further Man-O-Man sons who complete the top 10.

Cabon Fernand (Man-O-Man x Bolton) ranks ninth at PLI £222 and is the highest fat bull (36.8kg) amongst the top 25 while also transmitting high type with low cell counts and outstanding legs, feet and mammary traits.

Tenth-ranking Cookiecutter Hefty (Man-O-Man x Goldwyn) has a PLI of £221 and is the highest producer of milk solids at 61kg. Remarkably combining this with low cell counts and excellent udder conformation, he rounds off a top 10 which illustrates how the weaknesses for which the highly influential Oman may have been criticised have been ironed out over the generations to produce some outstanding bulls with all-round breeding potential for production, type and fitness.

Commenting on the first genomic ranking produced in the UK, Marco Winters, head of genetics with DairyCo said: “These young bulls show outstanding, all-round potential with the scope to move the UK dairy herd up to a new level.

“They clearly have an important place in any UK breeding programme and I would recommend they were used along with daughter-proven sires. “All breeders should take note of their reliability which is generally around 67 percent. This means there is a greater chance their indexes will change, and by a larger magnitude, than those of daughter-proven sires.

“However, they are considerably more reliable than an index based only on parent- average performance, and because they represent a new and improved generation, the judicious use of a carefully selected group of these bulls has the scope to improve any herd.”

DairyCo has published a ‘Guide to genomic evaluations’ which will be distributed with the April issue of ‘All things dairy’ and explains how genomic indexes are calculated and how they should be used.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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