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Archive: Genomic sons of genomic sons set fast pace of change

Published 2 December 14

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The genomic young sire list is where the excitement lies when it comes to Holstein genetics, and the December index run, published this week by DairyCo, demonstrates the fast pace of change.

The generation interval for the dairy cow has been slashed with the advent of genomics and no less than eight of the top 10 sires ranked on Profitable Lifetime Index (£PLI) were unavailable at the last index run just four months ago.

Out-shining them all is the brand new Canadian-bred Sandy-Valley-I Penmanship, whose sire is also a young genomic bull - just like the sires of nine of the top 10 bulls. Penmanship smashes the £700 PLI barrier at £745, not long after £600 seemed a remarkable figure. Like the number two bull on the list he is sired by Mr Lookout P Enforcer (Facebook x Shottle), although Penmanship is out of a Numero Uno dam. Even his maternal grandsire, Numero Uno himself, has only gained a daughter proof for the first time this month, further demonstrating how quickly genetic progress can be made.

Penmanship stands out for his high daughter Lifespan Index, which at +0.7 is the best of all bulls, although his transmission potential is excellent across the board.

Second ranking PES009 Boardshop (Enforcer x Bookem) ranks close to the number one sire in most respects, and weighs in with a PLI of £682.

A son of Seagull-Bay Platinum out of a Shamrock dam ranks third in the shape of US-bred De-Su Penley, whose remarkable ability to reduce cell counts (SCC Index -32) and high type transmission (Type Merit +3.69) are highlights of his index. His PLI is £673.

Former number three bull Mr Miguel (Cashcoin x Robust) holds firm with an improved PLI of £672 while equal ranking in fourth position, De-Su Firewall is another newcomer. Sired by De-Su AltaJackman and out of another Shamrock dam, he features high components and low cell counts.

The former number one bull, MG Inseme Powerplay improves his PLI to £667 and now ranks sixth, and as a son of Guarini, is the only bull in the top 10 by a daughter-proven sire.

The theme of high fertility and fitness continues through the top 10 bulls and beyond, with seventh to 10th ranking Mr Kool (Cashcoin x Man Oman), Sandy-Valley-I Pacific (Coyne-Farms Jetset x Numero Uno), Sully Micah (AltaJackman x Planet) and Midas-Touch Bullseye (De-Su Ransom x Shamrock) only differing widely on the volume of milk they transmit.

“The top young sires ranked on PLI are consistently good,” remarks Marco Winters, DairyCo head of genetics. “The average Lifespan Index of the top 50 is an outstanding +0.5, with daughter Fertility Index at +7.1 and SCC Index averaging -15. They combine this with good production, positive components and a very high Type Merit of +2.8, illustrating just how far breeding has come in a short space of time.

“These bulls represent elite breeding we could not have dreamt of on this scale a few years ago, and I’d urge milk producers to consider using a cross-section of good young sires for their herds,” he says. “The choice of bloodlines may be less varied than the quantity of bulls might suggest, so I’d recommend using them judiciously and searching for outcross pedigrees whenever the need arises.

“Reliability of their PLIs is generally 63% to 65%, so a group of bulls, each used in a small quantity, is preferable to a heavy reliance on one young sire,” he says.