When exploring these new, brighter FUTURE STARS, high fertility CONCEPT PLUS status remains a key benefit. However, there’s three main reasons we’re shifting our focus away from calving ease, toward creating more live, healthy calves:
- The official calving ease traits are updated to more accurately reflect actual incidence of calving difficulty in the USA population. This has made thresholds for SCE no longer relevant
- Progressive dairies focus on efficiency. And a simple way to improve efficiency is to first, create more pregnancies, and second deliver more live, healthy calves.
- We wanted to update our brighter FUTURE STAR to improve the relevance and efficiency for the progressive producer!
Let’s put the new SCE into perspective
Sire Calving Ease has been a traditional ‘threshold trait’ for many, many years. Dairies have set limits at <8% to make sure they’re doing everything they can from a genetic standpoint to have fewer difficult calvings. The current data on actual calving difficulty proves that modern genetics like Alta FUTURE STARS have done their job to decrease the incidence of difficult calvings down to a rare occurrence.
So now it’s time to shift our mindset – because SCE thresholds are a thing of the past. Think about this – looking at the new proof values today, to be better than “average” a bull needs to be lower than 2.2 for SCE! If you maintain ‘average’ as a threshold for SCE, what does that mean for a bull with an excellent profile, high ranking on your customized genetic plan… but at 2.3 SCE…?
Up until August 2020 proof day, you would welcome a bull at 5% for SCE as no cause for concern. But – that’s now more than 2x higher than the new average!
Sire Stillbirth does NOT equal DOAs
Stillbirth traits measure death in the first 48 hours, not just the number of calves born dead. And 48 hours is actually the critical first days of life and investment we make in our calves. It equates to more than 3 colostrum feedings, ear tags, labor, and handling to move to the hutches. We want to see as many calves as possible successfully grow beyond these early days.
And the new calving trait updates tell us that stillbirth rates are still higher than desired – certainly higher than calving ease. Any number of failed calves is too many – they are a real opportunity cost and an important variable in our clients’ heifer inventory management plans. So that’s why stillbirth traits now contribute to our brighter FUTURE STAR criteria!
FUTURE STARS – driving value, then and now
To recap, keep these two points in mind as you explore the value that FUTURE STARS have delivered to this point, and the new value they will deliver going forward.
1. FUTURE STARS helped solve the issue of calving difficulties
They did this through a clear and intentional focus first on real observations for calving ease and remained a reliable option for easy calvings once genomic data was included.
2. FUTURE STARS now address the first two things that matter in building the best future herd
We always say that genetics don’t matter if you don’t first create a pregnancy. And that rings true as loud as ever. What we often forget is that genetics also don’t matter if the calf is not still alive after the first 48 hours.
Only high fertility CONCEPT PLUS sires are eligible to earn FUTURE STAR status. And FUTURE STAR sires are carefully selected to deliver more live, healthy calves, by focusing on the stillbirth traits.
FUTURE STARS have the genetics to create value and improve efficiency in your herd. Benefit from a dual focus on the first two steps to creating your best future herd: 1 – creating more pregnancies and 2 – delivering more healthy newborn calves that successfully make the move from colostrum to milk.