Legacy promises to lift Holstein breed

Published 7 August 18

A new wave of young Holstein sires is presenting dairy producers with unprecedented breeding opportunities, and this week’s publication of genetic evaluations by AHDB Dairy highlights newcomers at the pinnacle of the breed.

Improvement to the way the ranking tool, Profitable Lifetime Index, is calculated brings further relevance to the data as the new Lameness Advantage (LA) and Calf Survival (CS) indexes as well as Body Condition Score (BCS), become part of the £PLI formula.

The number one bull is the new entrant, Pine-Tree CW Legacy, who rises straight to the top with a massive PLI of £924. This value is over £100 greater than the leading bull’s £PLI last April, reflecting his exceptional genetics on many fronts, and – to a degree – the ability of the new £PLI to capture more of the impact genetics can have on farm profitability. A son of Frazzled, he is one of the best udder health improvers (-5 Mastitis, -32 SCC), transmits excellent daughter lifespan (LS +0.7 lactations), good Fertility Index (FI +8.5) and scores well for both Calf Survival and Lameness Advantage (+2.4 and +2.3 respectively). He combines this with high production, as well as positive fat and protein percentages.

In second place is Denovo 7921 Atrium, also newly available. A son of ABS Achiever, (who himself ranks only just outside the top 10 with a PLI of £804), Atrium transmits high fat (+0.20%) as well as strong health, and outstanding daughter fertility (FI +12.6). As the best bull for reducing feed costs in the top 20 (-11 Maintenance) he wraps up many desirable traits in a PLI of £897.

ABS Outback (PLI £866), the equal first-ranking bull from April has now been edged into third place, despite increasing his £PLI. He transmits excellent lameness improvement (LA +3.1), with good daughter lifespan and fertility.

VH Balisto Brook remains in fourth position at £849 with excellent milk components (+0.25% fat, +0.11% protein), and as a bull bred in Denmark – where there’s been a long-term emphasis on udder health – it is little surprise to see him rank as the best in the top 20 for both SCC (-37) and mastitis (-6).

Fifth place goes to ABS Crimson (PLI £848) who is one of the highest kg fat and protein transmitters in the top 20 (combined at 79.3kg), also with solid health.

Places six to nine feature all newly available sires, highlighting the speed at which genomics can identify new genetics with the potential to improve the breed.

Sixth-ranking Pine-Tree Durable (PLI £843) is a Charley brother to the number one bull and with a Lameness Advantage of +3.7, he is the best bull in the top 20 for this trait.

In seventh place is Sandy-Valley Imax Batman (PLI £842), a high fat transmitter (+46.6kg and +0.18%), followed closely by the highest protein transmitter in the top 20, DE-SU 14222 Kenobi (PLI £831).

UK-bred Glamour Boghill Victor makes his debut in ninth place with a PLI of £827. This Verona son comes out of a Supershot dam from the well-know Cosmopolitan family.

Rounding off the top 10 is the former number one £PLI sire, Mr Rubi-Agronaut. Continuing to transmit high milk solids and excellent udder health, Agronaut has the best daughter fertility in the top 10 at +14.0. He combines this with the highest Type Merit in the group of +3.21.

Places 10 to 20 feature no less than six additional debutants. Of note are the highest transmitters in the top 20: ABS Achiever (who is top for fat weight and per cent); Welcome-Tel Bromley 3195 (top for daughter lifespan and fertililty) and Schoene-Kuh Altarobert (also equal top for Fertility Index).

“The availability of new genetics continues at a fast pace and the newly revised £PLI captures even more of the qualities these bulls can transmit than ever before,” says Marco Winters, head of animal genetics for AHDB Dairy. “The traits included in the index have all been proven to influence an animal’s profitability under UK farming conditions and milk pricing structures, so as always, £PLI is a good starting point for genetic selection, before digging further down.

A table of all available Holstein bulls with a genomic index ranked on the latest PLI (August 2018) can be found here.

Merit is supplied by Holstein UK.