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What you need to know about April sire proofs

1. DPR changed again

The trend in recent years shows that bulls tend to drop for DPR every April. That drop is followed by a similar increase in DPR through the following August and December proofs.

Here’s what happened this time:

As a whole, both genomic and daughter-proven Jersey bulls dropped an average of 0.3 for DPR. Holstein bulls changed more than that and had a greater variance in their drop. The youngest Holstein bulls dropped quite a bit more than older Holstein bulls. For example, Holstein bulls born in 2010 dropped about 0.2 for DPR, while those born in 2018 dropped by 1.0 DPR.

Other official industry average DPR changes are as follows:

  • HO genomic-proven bulls: ↓8 DPR = about -14 NM$
  • HO daughter-proven bulls: ↓0.6 DPR = about -8 NM$

If you’re looking for more details, find official DPR updates from CDCB HERE.

2. Our sire line-ups will match your goals

Regardless if you prefer genomic or daughter-proven, a 60-40-0 genetic plan, TPI, NM$ or another index, Holsteins or Jerseys, high fertility or the fastest genetic progress… we have some hot new sires to fit whatever your genetic plan may be!

Some of these hot highlights are as follows:

  • High-ranking Jerseys
  • Brand-new Holsteins
    • 15 new Alta ADVANTAGE sires
    • 12 new G-STAR sires
    • 8 new daughter-proven graduates

3. NEW Crossbred evaluations are here

In recent years, increased crossbreeding, paired with increased adoption of genomic testing in commercial environments, has led to the demand and accessibility to calculate genomic evaluations on crossbred animals.

This means The Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) has now released the first genomic evaluations for crossbred animals.

CDCB calculated crossbred genomic predictions as a weighted average of the respective single breed evaluations. That means you’ll see improved accuracy for some crossbred animals that had already received evaluations. For example, animals that are about 85% Jersey and 15% Holstein, will have greater accuracy, because instead of being evaluated as only a Jersey, their Holstein proportion will now more accurately be accounted for. You can expect genetic value estimates for crossbred animals to be slightly less accurate than purebred evaluations.

Jerseys are most affected by this new crossbred evaluation. The Jerseys with brackets in their name (meaning they have other breed ancestry within six generations) see the biggest changes in NM$ and JPI values. And on an industry average basis, genomic-proven Jersey bulls dropped about 27 NM$, while daughter-proven Jersey bulls decreased by about 15 NM$.

→ To better understand this new crossbred evaluation, check out the full write-up from PEAK Geneticists, Doug Bjelland and Ashley Mikshowsky

Group of Holstein, Jersey and Crossbred cows
CDCB calculated and released crossbred animal evaluations for the first time in April 2019

4. You can target your approach to beef x dairy

Industry and market dynamics currently mean that beef x dairy may make sense as part of strategic breeding program.

When that is part of your strategy, make sure you think through your options carefully. Consider when you sell and how you market your beef x dairy cross animals. What is your current situation what are your future goals?

Just like dairy genetics, not all beef bulls are created equal. Through the Bullseye program, we will help you take a targeted approach to your beef x dairy strategy. So, as you determine which dairy genetics you’ll use over the next four months, let us help you find the right beef genetics as well. We’ll help you capitalize on the optimal premium for those cross calves you create.

Learn more about the Bullseye program approach HERE.

5. Fertility still matters

It is our goal to help you create more pregnancies on your dairy.

Whether you prefer conventional semen or sexed semen, we use the industry’s leading sire fertility evaluation to help you know which sires will be most fertile in your herd.

CONCEPT PLUS sires tell you which bulls will create the most pregnancies with conventional semen.

511 CONCEPT PLUS sires let you know which sexed bulls will help you create more female pregnancies in your herd.

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New in April 2019: Crossbred evaluations

The Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) will now release genomic evaluations for crossbred animals. In recent years, increased crossbreeding, paired with increased adoption of genomic testing in commercial environments, has led to the demand – and accessibility – to calculate genomic evaluations on crossbred animals.

What does this mean for you?

You can expect genetic value estimates for crossbred animals to be slightly less accurate than purebred estimates. CDCB will calculate crossbred genomic predictions as a weighted average of the respective single breed evaluations. This means that you’ll see improved accuracy for some crossbred animals already receiving evaluations. For example, animals that are about 85% Jersey and 15% Holstein, will have greater accuracy, because instead of being evaluated as only a Jersey, their Holstein proportion will now more accurately be accounted for within that animal’s evaluation.

Another result of this update is a slightly increased accuracy of purebred evaluations. This is because crossbred animals with a BBR of <=94% will not be included in individual breed evaluations.

The details

There are five main breeds of dairy cattle with genomic evaluations in the US: Holstein, Jersey, Brown Swiss, Ayrshire, and Guernsey.

Currently, BBR, which stands for Breed Base Representation, is an estimate of the percent of DNA contributed to that animal by each of these five breeds. Going forward, animals will be divided as follows:

  • BBR >= 94% will be defined as a purebred.
  • BBR >= 90% will still be evaluated with the breed of its highest BBR.
  • BBR < 90% will be evaluated in a blended group, and their predictions will be based on a weighted combination of marker effects from the different comprising breeds.

If an animal has a BBR < 90%, CDCB will most often label that animal as the breed of its highest BBR. The exception to this is first generation crossbreds with a BBR of the highest breed less than 55%.

Some traits are only evaluated within certain breeds or are difficult to compare across breeds. Because of that, crossbred animals will have type traits, calving traits (Holstein and Brown Swiss only), and health traits (Holstein only) from one breed only – they will not be blended.

There will also be no haplotypes released for the crossbred animals at the April 2019 release.

Keep this in mind…

If you implement crossbreeding as part of your genetic strategy, these new crossbred evaluations are big news. This update will provide you with more accurate information to make better decisions, regardless of your herd’s breed composition.

Want to learn more?

Check out the webinar addressing the new crossbred evaluations from CDCB.

 

Published in partnership with Ashley Mikshowsky and Doug Bjelland, PEAK Geneticists

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New trait from CDCB: Early First Calving

As part of April 2019 the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) is releasing a newly evaluated trait: Early First Calving (EFC).

Because genetics and management both play a role in heifer development, having the ability to select for animals that calve in earlier can help increase your herd’s profitability.

Heifer rearing accounts for 15-20% of the total cost of milk production. This includes feed, housing, labor, and health care costs. Raising a heifer can cost an estimated $2.50 a day to raise a heifer. So decreasing the age at first calving can add up to substantial savings. Another factor to consider is how the age at first calving affects the heifer’s income after she joins the milking herd.

Early First Calving will be expressed as age in days at first calving.

Animals expected to transmit genetics that decrease the age at first calving will have a positive EFC value, because calving younger is seen as more beneficial. Animals transmitting genetics that increase the age at first calving will have a negative EFC value, because calving at an older age is less beneficial.

If you’re looking to select for EFC as part of your genetic plan, here’s what you’ll see. A bull with a PTA of +2 days for EFC has genetics estimated to reduce his daughter’s age at first calving by two days compared to a bull with a PTA of 0 for EFC. The heritability of EFC is low, at 2.3%. The average reliability for young genotyped Holsteins is about 66% and for Jereys, it’s about 51%.

As with the release of any new trait, it’s important to keep your herd’s current situation and future goals in mind. Ask yourself how you’re paid for milk, why cows leave your herd, and what type of cows fit your environment in order to emphasize only the traits that will most affect your farm’s bottom line.

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