Proof Terminology Explained

Image of a sire proof sheet

The letters, numbers and acronyms on a proof sheet can be complicated.
Here, we break down the meaning and explanation of the proof indexes, traits, and terminology.

SELECTION INDEXES

We know that every farm is unique. So we help every farm approach genetic selection with a process that’s customized to
fit their operation. We focus on three key questions to help streamline the process of setting and implementing a genetic
strategy that matches where you’re at and where you want to go.

How do you get paid for your milk?

Serves as a guide to select for the right balance of milk and components for your market

Includes Milk, Fat, Protein

PRODUCTION

What reasons do cows leave your herd?

Helps account for traits related to herd health, fertility, efficiency, and sustainability

Includes traits like Productive Life, Daughter Preg Rate, calving traits, Feed Saved, and more

HEALTH & EFFICIENCY

What type of cows work best in your environment?

Addresses whether any selection emphasis is needed on traits related to the conformation of an animal

Includes linear traits and indexes like Type, Udder Composite, and Foot & Leg Composite

CONFORMATION

Each question helps address one of three genetic plan ‘buckets.’
The amount of emphasis you put on the traits within each bucket sums to 100% of your customized genetic plan.

Industry-formulated genetic indexes can certainly fit your farm’s current situation and future goals. But to know whether that is the case,
you must understand what is included in each selection index. Please note that trait weights have been rounded to the nearest percentage.

 

60-40-0

An example of customized genetic plan

  • Can be developed in partnership between a farm and their Alta advisor
  • Can evolve to fit each farm’s needs, and is one of the more popular genetic plans among progressive US dairies
Bar graph image to show a 60-40-0 breakdown
60 PRODUCTION
  • 30 Protein
  • 30 Fat
40 HEALTH & EFFICIENCY
  • 20  Productive Life
  • 15  Daughter Pregnancy Rate
  • 5   Somatic Cell Score

TPI

Total Performance Index

  • An industry index calculated by the Holstein Association USA (HA-USA)
  • Offers a balanced approach to selection for production, health, and conformation
  • Most recent update: April 2021
38 PRODUCTION
  • 19 Fat
    19 Protein
37 HEALTH & EFFICIENCY
  • 13 Fertility Index
    8 Feed Efficiency
    5 Productive Life
    4 Somatic Cell Score
    3 Cow Livability
    2 Calving Ability
    2 Health Index
25 CONFORMATION
  • 11 Type
    8 Udder Composite
    6 Foot & Leg Composite

NM$ | CM$ | FM$ | GM$

Net Merit | Cheese Merit | Fluid Merit | Grazing Merit

  • Industry indexes calculated by the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB)
  • Describe expected lifetime profit per cow as compared to the base population born in 2015
  • Each of the four indexes is designed to fit a specific type of farm or milk market
  • NM$ is the most common of the four merit indexes
  • Most recent update: August 2021

 

NM$

NM$ breakdown
49 PRODUCTION
  • 29 Fat
  • 20 Protein
  • <1 Milk
48 HEALTH & EFFICIENCY
  • 16 Productive Life
  • 13 Feed Saved
  • 4 Cow Livability
  • 4 Daughter Pregnancy Rate
  • 3 Calving Ability
  • 3 Somatic Cell Score
  • 1 Health Index
  • 1 Early First Calving
  • 1 Cow Conception Rate
  • 1 Heifer Livability
  • <1 Heifer Conception Rate
3 CONFORMATION
  • 3 Udder Composite
  • <1 Foot & Leg Composite

CM$

Breakdown of Cheese Merit & Fluid Merit
50 PRODUCTION
  • 27 Fat
  • 21 Protein 
  • – 2 Milk
46 HEALTH & EFFICIENCY
  • 15 Productive Life
  • 13 Feed Saved
  • 4 Cow Livability
  • 4 Daughter Pregnancy Rate
  • 4 Somatic Cell Score
  • 3 Calving Ability
  • 1 Health Index
  • 1 Early First Calving
  • 1 Cow Conception Rate
  • 1 Heifer Livability
  • <1 Heifer Conception Rate
4 CONFORMATION
  • 3 Udder Composite
  • <1 Foot & Leg Composite

FM$

Breakdown of Cheese Merit & Fluid Merit
49 PRODUCTION
  • 28 Fat
  • 22 Milk
48 HEALTH & EFFICIENCY
  • 16 Productive Life
  • 13 Feed Save
  • 4 Cow Livability
  • 4 Daughter Pregnancy Rate
  • 3 Calving Ability
  • 2 Somatic Cell Score
  • 1 Health Index
  • 1 Early First Calving
  • 1 Cow Conception Rate
  • 1 Heifer Livability
  • <1 Heifer Conception Rate
4 CONFORMATION
  • 3 Udder Composite
  • <1 Foot & Leg Composite

GM$

Breakdown of Grazing Merit Index
47 PRODUCTION
  • 28 Fat
  • 19 Protein
  • <1 Milk
48 HEALTH & EFFICIENCY
  • 15 Feed Saved
  • 12 Daughter Pregnancy Rate
  • 7 Productive Life
  • 3 Cow Livability
  • 3 Somatic Cell Score
  • 3 Cow Conception Rate
  • 3 Calving Ability
  • 1 Health Index
  • 1 Early First Calving
  • 1 Heifer Livability
  • <1 Heifer Conception Rate
4 CONFORMATION
  • 4 Udder Composite
  • <1 Foot & Leg Composite

GENERAL PROOF TERMS

  • aAa
    An independent method for making mating decisions. Learn more HERE.
  • Beta Casein | A key protein in milk.
    Studies have shown the A2 protein is preferred for its ease of digestibility.
  • CDCB | Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding
    Calculates production, health, and efficiency traits and the NM$, CM$, FM$, and GM$ indexes
  • DMS | Dairy Mating Service
    An independent method for making mating decisions. Learn more HERE.
  • EFI % | Effective future inbreeding percentage
    An estimate, based on pedigree, of the level of inbreeding that the progeny of a given animal will contribute in the population if mated at random
  • GFI% | Genomic Future Inbreeding percentage
    Similar to EFI, an animal’s GFI also predicts the level of inbreeding he/she will contribute in the population if mated at random. Yet, GFI provides a more accurate prediction. It takes into account genomic test results and the actual genes an animal has.
  • HA-USA | Holstein Association USA
    The world’s largest dairy cattle breeding organization, and the entity that calculates TPI and the conformation trait indexes.
  • MACE | Multiple-trait Across Country Evaluation
    Denotes that a bull’s proof evaluation includes daughter information from multiple countries
  • Kappa Casein | A key protein in milk
    The B variant is often preferred over the A or E variant for cheese making
  • PTA | Predicted Transmitting Ability
    The estimate of genetic superiority or inferiority for a given trait that an animal is predicted to transmit to its offspring. This value is based on the animal’s own records and the records of known relatives.
  • RHA | Registered Holstein Ancestry
    The percentage of the animal’s ancestry that can be traced to the origin of US or Canadian Holsteins

 

SIRE DESIGNATIONS

  • 511 | Alta sires available as sexed semen
  • Alta ADVANTAGE | Alta’s new genomic-proven sires reserved for loyal partner herds.
  • Alta EDGE | The newest, most elite Alta sires available only to farms that choose to enter an Alta EDGE contract agreement
  • CONCEPT PLUS DxD | Alta sires proven to create more pregnancies with conventional semen. They offer a 2%-5% conception rate advantage over the average or unknown conventional sire. You’ll also see it noted as simply CONCEPT PLUS
  • CONCEPT PLUS 511 | Alta sires proven to create more pregnancies with sexed semen. These bulls offer a 3%-7%
    conception rate advantage over an average or unknown straw of sexed semen.
  • FUTURE STAR | Genomic proven sires that offer the added benefit of creating more pregnancies that result in
    live, healthy calves. All FUTURE STARS are proven as high fertility CONCEPT PLUS sires, and have favorable values for all calving traits.
  • G-STAR | Alta’s elite genomic-proven sire lineup.
  • PROVEN STAR | Highly reliable daughter-proven sires in the Alta lineup.

 

PRODUCTION TRAITS & TERMS

  • CFP | Combined fat and protein             
  • PRel | Percent reliability of a sire’s production proof
  • PTAF | Predicted transmitting ability for milk fat
    Calculated in pounds and as a percentage
  • PTAM | Predicted transmitting ability for milk
    Shown as pounds of milk an animal is expected to produce above or below the average of its herdmates.
  • PTAP | Predicted transmitting ability for milk protein
    Calculated both in pounds and as a percent

 

HEALTH & EFFICIENCY TRAITS & TERMS

  • BWC | Body Weight Composite
    An index to measure the overall size and efficiency of a cow, included in NM$ as part of the Feed Saved index. The composite index is comprised of the following linear type traits, in order of weight within the BWC index: strength, dairy form, stature, rump width, and body depth.
  • CA$ | Calving Ability Subindex
    Included in NM$, but not calculated directly as its own index. It combines the four calving traits, DCE, DSB, SCE, and SSB along with the economics associated with difficult calvings or calves born dead.
    • DCE | Daughter calving ease
      The percentage of a bull’s daughters who have difficult births during their first calving
    • DSB | Daughter stillbirth
      The percentage of a bull’s daughters who give birth to a dead calf in their first lactation
    • SCE | Sire calving ease
      The percentage of births of bull’s calves that are considered difficult in first lactation animals
    • SSB | Sire stillbirth
      The percentage of a bull’s calves that are born dead to first lactation animals
  • CCR | Cow Conception Rate
    A lactating cow’s ability to conceive – defined as the percentage of inseminated cows that become pregnant at each service. A bull’s CCR of 1.0 implies that daughters of this bull are 1% more likely to become pregnant during that lactation than daughters of a bull with an evaluation of 0.0
  • CW$ | Calf Wellness Index
    A selection index calculated by Zoetis that focuses exclusively on calf wellness traits including calf livability, respiratory disease and scours. It estimates the differences in expected lifetime profit associated with the risk of calfhood diseases and early death losses.
  • DPR | Daughter Pregnancy Rate
    Daughter Pregnancy Rate is defined as the percentage of non-pregnant cows that become pregnant during each 21-day period. A DPR of ‘1.0’ implies that daughters from this bull are 1% more likely to become pregnant during that estrus cycle than a bull with an evaluation of zero. Each increase of 1% in PTA DPR equals a decrease of 4 days in PTA days open.
  • DWP$ | Dairy Wellness Profit Index
    Calculated and published by Zoetis, it’s a selection index that includes production, reproduction, functional type, longevity, calving, plus Zoetis cow and calf wellness traits, Zoetis fertility traits and Polled test results. The bucket weights break down with approximately 36% on production traits and 64% on health traits.
  • EFC | Early First Calving
    Defined in days, it explains an animal’s likeliness to calve younger than herdmates. A positive value means a heifer is more likely to calve younger. A negative value means a heifer is more likely to have an older age at first calving.
  • FE | Feed Efficiency Index
    A composite index that includes production traits, body weight composite and residual feed intake to reflect better feed utilization. Included in TPI, it’s not published as its own index.
  • FI | Fertility Index
    Combines several reproductive components all into one index. It’s included in the TPI formula, but not published as its own index. It includes the following traits, in order by weight within the index: daughter pregnancy rate, cow conception rate, heifer conception rate, and early first calving.
  • FSAV | Feed Saved
    Expressed in pounds of feed saved per lactation above or below the breed average. It combines Body Weight Composite (BWC) and Residual Feed Intake (RFI) evaluations based on actual, rather than expected feed intake data. Larger, positive values are more favorable.
  • GL | Gestation Length
    Indication of the length that a sire’s mate carries a calf, in days, as compared to the average of the breed
  • HCR | Heifer Conception Rate
    A virgin heifer’s ability to conceive – defined as the percentage of inseminated heifers that become pregnant at each service. An HCR of 1.0 implies that daughters of this bull are 1% more likely to become pregnant as a heifer than daughters of a bull with an evaluation of 0.0
  • HLIV | Heifer Livability
    A measure of the cow’s ability to stay alive in the herd. Data is a subset of Productive life, but accounts for whether a cow was sold for a cull price or died on the farm.
  • HRel | Percent reliability for a sire’s health trait proof numbers
  • HTH$ | Health Trait Subindex
    Calculated by CDCB, included in TPI and NM$, but not released as its own index. It is made up of the following traits, in order of weight within the index. For each of the following traits, a positive number equates to better resistance against the given health condition.
    • MAST |  Resistance to Mastitis
      Measures a cow’s resistance to contract mastitis
    • METR | Resistance to Metritis
      Measures a cow’s ability to resist contracting metritis
    • DA | Resistance to Displaced Abomasum
      Measures a cow’s ability to resist having a displaced abomasum
    • RETP | Resistance to Retained Placenta
      Measures a cow’s ability to resist having a retained placenta
    • KETO | Resistance to Ketosis
      Measures a cow’s ability to resist contracting ketosis
    • MFEV | Resistance to Milk Fever or Hypocalcemia
      Measures a cow’s resistance to contract milk fever at calving
  • LIV | Cow Livability
    A measure of the cow’s ability to stay alive in the herd. Data is a subset of Productive life, but accounts for whether a cow was sold for a cull price or died on the farm.
  • PL |  Productive Life
    Measured as the total number of additional or fewer productive months that you can expect from a bull’s daughters over their lifetime. Cows receive credit for each month of lactation, with more credit given to the first months around peak production, and less credit given for months further out in lactation. More credit is also given for older cows than for younger animals.
  • RFI | Residual Feed Intake
    Measures the difference of actual and expected feed intake from actual feed intake data from several thousand cows in the US and Canada, and is included in NM$ as part of Feed Saved.
  • SCS | Somatic cell score
    The log score of somatic cells per milliliter.
  • WT$ | Wellness Trait Index
    An index calculated by Zoetis that focuses exclusively on cow wellness traits (mastitis, lameness, metritis, retained placenta, displaced abomasum, ketosis, respiratory disease, milk fever and polled) and estimates potential profit contribution of these wellness traits only.

 

CONFORMATION TRAITS & TERMS

  • BWC | Body Weight Composite
    An index to measure the overall size and efficiency of a cow. The composite index is comprised of the following linear type traits, in order of weight within the BWC index: strength, dairy form, stature, rump width, and body depth.
  • FLC | Foot & Leg Composite Index
    Calculated by Holstein USA, it is an index to describe animals that transmit superior mobility, steeper foot angle, wider rear leg stance with little or no hock-in and slightly straight rear legs side view. It’s comprised of the following linear type traits, in order of weight: foot & leg classification breakdown score, stature, rear legs rear view, foot angle, and rear legs side view.
  • PTAT | Predicted transmitting ability for type
  • TRel | Percent reliability for a sire’s conformation/type proof
  • UDC | Udder Composite Index
    Calculated by Holstein USA, it’s an index to describe a well-formed, trouble-free udder, capable of holding large volumes of milk. It is comprised of the following linear type traits, in order of weight: rear udder height, stature, udder depth, rear udder width, fore udder attachment, udder cleft, rear teat placement, teat length, and front teat placement.

 

GENETIC RECESSIVES

Carrier codes | Animals are confirmed carrier of the respective genetic recessive
  • BL  Bovine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency (BLAD)
  • BY  Brachyspina
  • CV  Complex Vertebral Malformation (CVM)
  • DP  Deficiency of the Uridine Monophosphate Synthase (DUMPS)
  • MF  Mulefoot
  • PO  Observed polled, but not necessarily genetically tested for this trait (polled is a dominant trait)
  • PC  Tested heterozygous polled (meaning 50% of offspring are expected to be polled)
  • PP  Tested homozygous polled (meaning 100% of offspring are expected to be polled)
  • RC  Carrier of recessive red hair color
  • B/R  Black/Red hair color
  • DR1   Tested heterozygous for the dominant red hair color
  • DR2  Tested homozygous for the dominant red hair color

 

Tested-free codes | Animals have been tested free of the respective genetic recessive
  • TL   Tested free of BLAD
  • TY  Tested free of Brachyspina
  • TV  Tested free of CVM
  • TD  Tested free of DUMPS
  • TM  Tested free of Mulefoot
  • TP  Tested free of the polled trait (meaning the animal has horns)
  • TR  Tested free of red hair color

 

HAPLOTYPES

  • An ‘F’ after each haplotype ensures the animal is tested free of that haplotype.
  • A ‘C’ after each haplotype means that animal is a carrier of that haplotype.
Haplotypes that negatively affect fertility
  • HH1C | HH1F
  • HH2C | HH2F
  • HH3C | HH3F       
  • HH4C | HH4F
  • HH5C | HH5F
  • HH6C |HH6F
Haplotype for cholesterol deficiency
  • HCDC | HCDF
On Key

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