UK - A Cheshire farmer, who has won semen from the most coveted bull in the Holstein breed, believes his prize will kick start him into improving his herd’s genetics.
Ian McGrath, who farms with his wife Liz, on Grange Farm in Over Peover near Knutsford, said winning three straws of Cogent Supershot semen will re-inspire him to develop his best cow families.
Supershot is widely considered to be the hottest property in the dairy genetics industry, where he is the number one genomic sire for both the USA’s and Canada’s key breeding indexes (TPI and LPI). He is also the number one sire ranked on Net Merit, the USA’s most important breeding index for commercial milk producers.
In the UK, Supershot’s Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI) is a massive £290 and Type Merit is 2.5, reflecting his daughters’ phenomenal genetic potential for production, health, fertility and conformation.
The first tranche of Supershot semen is currently being marketed at £725 a straw, putting the value of Mr McGrath’s prize at £2,175.
“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to use a bull of this quality as we’ve had a difficult and disrupted few years, which has included moving farm and re-establishing the herd on the new premises,” he said.
“We did some embryo work a few years ago, but we’ve been concentrating on other issues recently, and I must admit I took my eye off the herd’s genetics.”
However, he says he will flush his best cow using the Supershot semen, in the hope of producing replacement females for the 100-head herd and maybe some heifers for sale.
The cow he has chosen for the flush goes back to an imported American embryo, Sellcrest No Rachel Red. Her great granddaughter, Peovereye Rose Royce Rachel VG85, is currently milking in her third lactation which she is projected to complete at 13,000 litres in this twice-a-day, 9,000 litre herd.
Mr McGrath won his prize through a competition organised by Visions, Cogent’s young sire progeny testing programme. Visions customers who bought 20 straws of progeny test semen between 28 March and 28 April 2014 were automatically entered in the prize draw.
“I’ve always supported Cogent since the outset and been a member of Visions since 2006,” said Mr McGrath.
“It’s nice to be part of a programme that brings UK bulls to the fore, and it’s gratifying to see that we now have some bulls which are good enough to market world-wide.
“We certainly don’t want to be reliant for ever on Canadian and American semen, which is why I think progeny testing in the UK is so important,” he said.
“Being able to pick the pedigrees of the young sires I use from the scheme is a particular attraction and I’ve never been disappointed with the results.”
Breeding around 30 per cent of the Peovereye herd to Visions semen, he says he uses sexed female semen on the best 60 per cent of the herd, and British Blue beef on the remaining 10 per cent.
Owain Harries from Cogent says he is delighted the prize has reignited Mr McGrath’s interest in genetics.
“Interest in Cogent Supershot from customers around the world has been unprecedented and many producers in the UK and internationally have already flushed cows with the early semen,” he said.
“However, we’re offering a further bonus to customers of Visions who don’t want to spend on the highest priced semen, as his full brother, Cogent DG Superstyle, is available at a fraction of Supershot’s price.
“Cogent DG Superstyle is available at the discounted price of £35 to active Visions customers who have bought over 20 straws of Holstein Visions semen in the last 12 months,” he said.