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April 2019 sire lists

No matter what genetic plan you’ve put in place on your farm, we have daughter-proven and genomic-proven bulls to meet your goals.

Here’s your one-stop-shop for the specialty sire lists you need – in printer-friendly formats. Find Holstein and Jersey versions of A2A2, polled, robot-suited and kappa casein sires, as well as a printable proof sheet.

There is also a listing of our Holstein milking speed ratings, the 100% RHA registry status list, and a listing of all Zoetis wellness traits on all Alta Holstein sires.

BEEF x DAIRY Sire Lists

The Alta BULLSEYE program helps you develop a targeted approach to your beef-on-dairy breeding strategy. Learn more about this customized approach HERE.

Bullseye Logo - your target for beef on dairy

Whether these criteria or other traits match your current situation and future goals, work with your trusted Alta advisor to customize your genetic plan. You can do that by using our Advanced Bull Search or Alta GPS.

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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.

Bullseye Logo - your target for beef on dairy

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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There’s proof of genetic progress

Genomic proofs give us the confidence to use exciting sires sooner! You can rest assured these bulls will deliver on their genetic promises because genomic testing provides an immediate reliability of around 70% for production, health and conformation traits.

You might be wondering, what are the different genomic sire options? And how do they progress from their first release to daughter-proven status? Let’s break it down…

Alta ADVANTAGE logo

Alta ADVANTAGE

Our newest sires are available only to our loyal Alta ADVANTAGE partner herds. These Alta ADVANTAGE only sires offer diverse trait specialties and elite rankings on many different customized genetic plans.

When a bull is first old enough to be collected, he simply won’t produce enough semen to be readily available to all farms around the globe. So while we work to build semen inventory, we give our loyal Alta ADVANTAGE partner herds priority access to these elite, new sires that best fit their customized genetic plans.

Alta G-STAR logo - fast forward genetic progress

G-STARS

Once a bull starts producing enough semen, he is added to the G-STAR sire list. Many new G-STAR bulls are readily available this proof round. Among these sires are a wide array of trait outliers, and high ranks to fit your genetic plan.

Alta FUTURE STAR logo - calving ease and fertility assured

FUTURE STARS

About a year after a bull is first released, we have actual, proven results for both sire fertility and calving ease. We gather this data, analyze the results, and award the FUTURE STAR designation to only the bulls that have proven results. These sires have real pregnancy check observations that prove they’re above average for sire fertility. They also have calves born already, and their calving ease data shows them to be less than 8% for sire calving ease.

FUTURE STARS are the way to go if you want the benefits of elite genomics but prefer the added peace of mind of proven sire fertility and calving ease. You may give up some production and health as compared to the available G-STAR or ADVANTAGE only sires. But you gain peace of mind knowing that you’re upping your chances for a pregnancy and a live calf resulting from an easier calving. Because of the known calving ability, FUTURE STARS are often a good option to use on heifers.

For proof of progress, compare the genetic averages

Now that you know the difference between each genomic sire option, and the progression a bull could make as he matures, compare the average genetic level of each group in the table below. You’ll see that the newest, Alta ADVANTAGE bulls have the highest genetic averages – especially for the money-making production and health traits. They’re followed by the G-STAR sires, and then by the more highly reliable FUTURE STARS. You’ll also see the comparison to daughter-proven sire averages, just for reference.

April 2019 program averagesTPIMilkProtFatPTATUDCFLCPLDPRSCS
Alta ADVANTAGE2759156964921.551.680.756.72.02.74
G-STAR2690156062851.751.810.975.91.22.77
FUTURE STAR2556146856701.661.710.985.01.32.83
DAUGHTER-PROVEN2436132348621.371.490.794.21.22.81

Despite the big difference in genetic averages between the genomic lists and daughter-proven averages, it’s important to note that every single bull atop our current daughter-proven list was once a part of the G-STAR and/or FUTURE STAR lists. This just shows how much, and how fast we’re making genetic progress!

The track record is significant for our current genomic favorites. Each proof round, we see these genomic bulls deliver on their initial predictions, and eventually graduate to daughter-proven success.

More proof of genetic progress

We can take this comparison, and example of genetic progress one step further. For the sake of simplicity, let’s use TPI as an index to do a side-by-side comparison of our top daughter-proven sires and our top genomic-proven bulls.

Both lists have tremendous options to use, and many of these daughter-proven sires have even become household names around the world over the past few years. But despite that fact, the genomic-proven list simply outranks our daughter-proven group by a significant amount.

APRIL 2019
Top daughter-proven sires

Sire CodeNameTPI
11HO11478AltaLEAF2673
11HO11523AltaHOTSHOT2645
11HO11725AltaAMULET2598
11HO11499AltaMEGLO2580
11HO11758AltaNIXER2580
11HO11531AltaSABRE2571
11HO11437AltaSPRING2570
11HO11718AltaTURNKEY2560
11HO11493AltaHOTROD2558
11HO11566AltaFOUNDER2549
Average 2588

APRIL 2019
Top
genomic-proven sires

Sire NameCodeTPI
11HO12286AltaROBERT2845
11HO12327AltaMORRIS2842
11HO12209AltaHOTJOB2823
11HO12240AltaMILESTONE2823
11HO12323AltaKLAEBO2820
11HO12352AltaGOMEZ2815
11HO12293AltaBUNDLE2803
11HO12366AltaKISS2801
11HO12180AltaDATELINE2792
11HO12285AltaNIXIE2792
Average2816

Put your genetics into action

With that in mind, have confidence to use a team of sires from the Alta ADVANTAGE, G-STAR or FUTURE STAR lists. Alternatively, if you prefer the peace of mind from higher-reliability proven sires, you’ll certainly find the right bulls to fit your needs among that list.

Select a group of bulls that meet your customized goals for production, health and conformation, and you will drive your progress to match your current situation and future goals.

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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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The NM$ index has new weights

The CDCB health traits will be added to the Lifetime Net Merit (NM$) formula starting in August. They will be combined into a health trait sub-index called HTH$, which will not be published separately.

You can find the relative value (%) for the traits in HTH$ in Table 1. DA, MAST, and METR represent over 80% of the index, due mainly to the higher costs and heritabilities associated with those traits.

Table 1. HTH$ sub-index relative values

TRAITABBREVRELATIVE VALUE in HTH$
MastitisMAST32.9
MetritisMETR26.5
Displaced abomasumDA23.3
Retained placentaRETP10.3
KetosisKETO4.7
Milk feverMFEV2.3

HTH$ Correlations

The correlations between HTH$ and the other traits in the NM$ formula are in Table 2. HTH$ is moderately to highly correlated with the health traits that were already included in the formula (PL, DPR, SCS, HCR, CCR, and LIV).  The heritability of HTH$ is low (0.01) as are many of the health traits.

Table 2. Genetic correlations between HTH$ and other NM$ traits

TraitMilkFatProtPLDPRSCSHCRCCRLIVCA$UdderF&LBWC
HTH$0.030.080.040.560.42−0.440.180.360.550.33−0.010.02−0.26

The new NM$ Index

A comparison of the 2017 and 2018 NM$ formulas is in Table 3 below.  The addition of HTH$ to NM$ results in slightly less weight on some of the traits already in the formula. In addition to new health traits in the index, NM$ now puts slightly more emphasis on the yield traits. SCS emphasis decreases because indirect correlated health costs are now allocated directly to HTH$.

The Fat to Protein ratio shifts to favor fat more, as the price paid for Fat is increasing and the price paid for Protein is decreasing (see Table 4 below).

Emphasis on SCS decreases since MAST is now directly included through the HTH$ index. PL emphasis also decreases slightly because later lactations are less valuable now that replacement heifer prices are lower.

Table 3. Net Merit $ Relative Values

Trait2017 NM$2018 NM$
Milk-0.7-0.7
Fat23.726.8
Protein18.316.9
PL13.412.1
SCS-6.5-4.0
DPR6.76.7
HCR1.41.4
CCR1.61.6
CA$4.84.8
LIV7.47.3
HTH$-2.3
UDC7.47.4
FLC2.72.7
BWC-5.9-5.3

NM$ 2017 versus NM$ 2018

An illustration to compare the index weights on production, health and conformation of Net Merit $ 2017 versus Net Merit $ 2018

Table 4. Component prices used to calculate Net Merit

YearFat ($/lb)Protein ($/lb)F:P ratio
20172.611.871.4
20162.312.101.1
20152.302.241.0
20142.383.390.7

Genetic Progress

Table 5 shows the expected genetic progress per trait for the 2017 and 2018 NM$ formulas.

The new 2018 formula will result in more progress for Fat, Protein, and FLC, and less progress for PL, DPR, CA$, and HCR.

The correlation between the 2017 and 2018 NM$ indexes are very high. For current industry genomic Holstein bulls the correlation is 0.998, and for current active, proven Holstein bulls, the correlation is 0.999.

Of the current top 100 NM$ genomic bulls, 88 remain in the top 100 NM$ using the 2018 formula.

Of the current top 100 NM$ active, proven bulls, 95 remain in the top 100 with the new formula.

Table 5. Expected genetic progress from NM$

Trait2017 NM$ (PTA change per year)2018 NM$ (PTA change per year)
Milk104104
Fat5.55.9
Protein3.73.8
PL0.540.51
SCS-0.02-0.02
DPR0.180.16
CA$3.53.4
HCR0.210.20
CCR0.420.42
LIV0.380.38
HTH$0.90.9
BWC-0.08-0.08
UDC0.050.05
FLC0.020.03

Customize your genetic plan

Ever-changing industry indexes serve as a reminder that your own farm’s customized genetic plan is as important as ever. When you set your emphasis on the production, health, and conformation traits that matter to your own bottom line – and stick to the plan you set – you’ll continue to maximize the progress you make in the direction of your own farm’s goals – even when other indexes change.

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Proof terminology explained

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

Genetic selection indexes are set by national organizations or breed associations. Genetic indexes help dairy producers focus on a total approach to genetic improvement, rather than limiting progress by single trait selection.

However, each farm is unique, with different situations and future plans. With that in mind, it’s important to understand what traits are included in each industry standard index. When you know what’s included, you can more effectively evaluate if the index truly matches your farm’s goals.

TPI = Total Performance Index
TPI is calculated by the Holstein Association USA (HA-USA) and includes the following trait weightings.

Image to show the weights on production, health and type for the TPI Index

PRODUCTION TRAITS = 46%

21% Pounds of protein
17% Pounds of fat
8% Feed efficiency

HEALTH TRAITS = 28%

13% Fertility index
-5% Somatic cell score
4% Productive life
3% Cow livability
2% Daughter calving ease
1% Daughter stillbirth

TYPE TRAITS = 26%

11% Udder composite
8% PTA type
6% Foot & leg composite
-1% Dairy form

NM$ = Net Merit Dollars

NM$ is a genetic index value calculated by the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB). It describes the expected lifetime profit per cow as compared to the base of the population born in 2010. Trait weightings are generally updated approximately every five years and include emphasis on the following traits. The current trait breakdown is in place as of August 2018. Please note that trait weights are rounded to the nearest percentage.

A bar showing the breakdown weights of Net Merit $ as 45% on Production traits, 40% on health traits and 15% on type traits

PRODUCTION TRAITS = 45%

26.8% Pounds of fat
16.9% Pounds of protein
-0.7%  Pounds of milk

HEALTH TRAITS = 40%

12.1%   Productive life
7.3%     Cow livability
6.7%     Daughter pregnancy rate
-4.0%     Somatic cell score
4.8%     Calving ability
2.3%     HLTH%
1.6%     Cow conception rate
1.4%     Heifer conception rate

TYPE TRAITS = 15%

7.4%  Udder composite
-5.3%  Body weight composite
2.7%  Foot & leg composite

CM$ = Cheese Merit Dollars

CM$ is an index calculated to account for milk sold to be made into cheese or other dairy products. The current CM$ index was adjusted in April 2017 and the following trait weights are considered. Please take note that trait weights shown have been rounded to the nearest percentage.

Image to show the breakdown of the Cheese Merit $ index weights with 52% production, 35% health and 13% type

PRODUCTION = 52%

22.8% Pounds of protein
20.9% Pounds of fat
-7.9% Pounds of milk

HEALTH = 37%

10.3% Productive life
6.2% Cow livability
5.7% Daughter pregnancy rate
-4.4% Somatic cell score
4.1% Calving ability
1.9% Health$ index
1.4% Cow conception rate
1.2% Heifer conception rate

TYPE TRAITS = 13%

6.3% Udder
-4.5% Body weight composite
2.3% Foot & leg

GENERAL PROOF TERMS

CDCB: Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding
Calculates production and health trait information for all breeds

MACE: Multiple-trait across country evaluation
Denotes that a bull’s proof evaluation includes daughter information from multiple countries

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.

EFI: Effective future inbreeding
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
Similar to EFI, an animal’s GFI als 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.

aAa: an independent method for making mating decisions

DMS: a separate, independent method for making mating decisions

 

PRODUCTION TRAITS

PTAM: Predicted transmitting ability for milk

PTAP: Predicted transmitting ability for protein

PTAF: Predicted transmitting ability for fat

PRel: the percent reliability of a sire’s production proof

 

HEALTH & FERTILITY TRAITS

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.  

LIV: Cow livability
Measure of a cow’s ability to remain alive while in the milking herd.

SCS: Somatic cell score
The log score of somatic cells per milliliter.

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.

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

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.

MAST: expected resistance of an animal’s offspring to clinical mastitis
Daughters of a bull with a MAST value of +1.0 are expected to have 1% fewer cases of mastitis than the average herdmate.

METR: expected resistance of an animal’s offspring to metritis
Daughters of a bull with a METR value of +1.0 are expected to have 1% fewer recorded cases of metritis than the average herdmate.

KET: expected resistance of an animal’s offspring to ketosis
Daughters of a bull with a KET value of +1.0 are expected to have 1% fewer recorded cases of ketosis than the average herdmate.

DA: expected resistance of an animal’s offspring to displaced abomasum
Daughters of a bull with a DA value of +1.0 are expected to have 1% fewer recorded cases of displaced abomasum than the average herdmate.

MFEV: expected resistance of an animal’s offspring to milk fever (hypocalcemia)
Daughters of a bull with a MFEV value of +1.0 are expected to have 1% fewer recorded cases of milk fever than the average herdmate.

RP: expected resistance of an animal’s offspring to retained placenta
Daughters of a bull with a RP value of +1.0 are expected to have 1% fewer recorded cases of retained placenta than the average herdmate.

HRel: the reliability percentage for a sire’s health traits

 

CALVING TRAITS

SCE: Sire calving ease
The percentage of bull’s calves born that are considered difficult in first lactation animals. Difficult births include those coded as a score of 3, 4 or 5 on a scale of 1-5.

DCE: Daughter calving ease
The percentage of a bull’s daughters who have difficult births during their first calving. Difficult calvings are those coded as a 3, 4 or 5 on a scale of 1-5.

SSB: Sire stillbirth
The percentage of a bull’s offspring that are born dead to first lactation animals.

DSB: Daughter stillbirth
The percentage of a bull’s daughters who give birth to a dead calf in their first lactation.

 

TYPE / CONFORMATION TRAITS

PTAT, UDC and FLC are all calculated by the Holstein Association USA.

PTAT: Predicted transmitting for type – referring to the total conformation of an animal

UDC: Udder composite index; comprised of the following linear trait weights:
19% Rear udder height
17% Udder depth
-17% Stature
6% Rear udder width
13% Fore udder attachment
7% Udder Cleft
4% Rear teat optimum
4% Teat length optimum
3% Front teat placement

FLC: Foot and leg composite index; comprised of the following trait weights:
58% foot and leg classification score
18% rear legs rear view
-17% stature
8% foot angle

TRel = the percent reliability for a sire’s conformation/type proof

 

GENETIC CODES

POLLED
PO: observed polled
PC: genomic tested as heterozygous polled; means 50% of offspring are expected to be observed as polled
PP: genomic tested as homozygous polled; means that 100% of offspring are expected to be observed as polled

COAT COLOR
RC: carries the recessive gene for red coat color
DR: carries a dominant gene for red coat color

RECESSIVES & HAPLOTYPES

These codes, or symbols representing the code, will only show up on a proof sheet if an animal is a carrier or test positive for one of the following. The acronyms denoting that an animal is tested free of a recessive will only show up on its pedigree.

BY: Brachyspina
TY: Tested free of brachyspina

BL: BLADS, or Bovine leukocyte adhesion deficiency
TL: Tested free of BLADS

CV: CVM or Complex vertebral malformation
TV: Tested free of CVM

DP: DUMPS, or Deficiency of the uridine monophosphate synthase
TD: Tested free of DUMPS

MF: Mulefoot
TM: Tested free of mulefoot

HH1, HH2, HH3, HH4, HH5: Holstein haplotypes that negatively affect fertility
HCD: Holstein haplotype for cholesterol deficiency

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The proof is in your numbers

Let us show you…

We can show you the proof that genetics are one of the cheapest investments you can make to improve the profitability and efficiency of your herd. Proof sheet numbers may seem unclear or unrealistic. So we break them down to see how they translate within your own herd.

When you use a herd management software program, we can create a genetic assessment of your herd to see if genetics really work on your farm.

Do your 2-year-olds give as many pounds of milk as their sires’ proofs predict? Do these cows become pregnant as quickly as their sires’ DPR numbers suggest? And do daughter stillbirth numbers prove to be accurate indicators of DOAs?

When we do a genetic assessment for your herd, it’s important to realize that we only take into account first-lactation animals in order to minimize environmental effects. Phenotype equals genetics plus environment. So when we eliminate – or at least minimize – environmental influences, the actual performance differences we see are due to genetics.

We want to show you how those proof numbers translate to more pounds of milk, more pregnancies and fewer stillborn calves. So here, we take one of our real DairyComp 305 analyses of a real 1,500-cow herd for answers.

The proof in genetics: PTA Milk (PTAM)

We start with PTAM, which tells us how many more pounds of milk a first-lactation animal will produce compared to herdmates on a 305-day ME basis. We set out to find if higher PTAM values on this farm actually convert to more pounds of milk in the tank.

In this example, we sort all first-lactation animals with a known Holstein sire ID, solely on their sires’ PTAM values. We then compare that to their actual 305-day ME milk records.

As Table 1 shows, based on genetics, we expect the top 25 percent of first-lactation heifers to produce 1,541 more pounds of milk on a 305ME basis than their lower PTAM counterparts. In reality, we see a 2,662-pound difference between the top PTAM animals and the bottom in actual daughter performance.

Table 1: How does selection for PTAM affect actual 305ME performance?
# of cowsAvg. Sire PTAMAvg. 305ME Production
Top 25% high sire PTAM178150844080
Bottom 25% low sire PTAM171-3341418
Difference15412662
This means that for every pound of milk this herd selects for, they actually get an additional 1.69 pounds of milk. So these first-lactation animals are producing well beyond their genetic potential.

Why do they get more than expected?

When we do most on-farm genetic assessments, we find that the 305ME values closely match the predicted difference based on sire PTAM. However, in this example, the production exceeds what’s expected by more than 1,100 pounds.

We often attribute that bonus milk top-level management, where genetics are allowed to express themselves. This particular herd provides a comfortable and consistent environment for all cows. All of these 2-year-olds are fed the same ration, housed in the same barn and given the same routine. At more than a 40,000-pound average 305ME, this is certainly a well-managed herd, which allows the top genetic animals to exceed their genetic production potential.

Perhaps even more importantly, the identification in this herd is more than 95 percent accurate. Without accurate identification, this analysis simply won’t work. That’s because some cows whose real sire information puts them in the bottom quartile will actually appear in the top quartile and vice-versa.

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Cow livability added to the NM$ formula

Starting in April 2017, the CDCB will include Cow livability into the Net Merit $ formula.

Cow livability (LIV) was introduced as a new trait in August 2016. It measures a cow’s ability to stay alive on the farm, and has a high (0.70) correlation with Productive Life (PL). The difference between LIV and PL is that PL measures a cow’s ability to be productive on the farm. It does not distinguish between death and culling as the reason for leaving the herd.

Cows that die on the farm are a great expense. In fact, based on cull prices, farmers could earn $1,200 less profit for each cow that dies on farm and cannot be sold for beef.

LIV is also correlated to DPR by 0.45 and to SCS by -0.25.

Net Merit changes

Net Merit (NM$) is an estimate of a cow’s lifetime profit to the farm. CDCB updated the formula for April 2017 proofs. It now includes new traits and revisions of traits using current incomes and expenses.

New changes include:

  • LIV is now part of the NM$ formula
  • Economic values are updated and current
  • Body weight composite (BWC) will replace Body size composite (BSC)

Relative values for most other traits included in the formula decreased slightly. The 2017 NM$ formula correlates by 0.989 to the previous NM$ from 2014. The table below shows the differences in the relative value of trait weights between the NM$ formula in 2014 and 2017.

TRAIT2014 NM$ TRAIT WEIGHT2017 NM$ TRAIT WEIGHT
Fat2223.7
Protein2018.3
Milk-1-0.7
Productive life1913.4
Cow livability7.4
Somatic cell score-7-6.5
Daughter pregnancy rate76.7
Calving ability $54.8
Cow conception rate11.6
Heifer conception rate21.4
Udder87.4
Feet & legs32.7
Body size composite-5
Body weight composite-5.9

The relative value of weight on PL decreases now that LIV is part of the NM$ formula. This adjustment will not hinder genetic progress for PL. Instead, it will increase the progress for LIV.

Body weight replaces body size

Since BWC is more closely related to the actual body weight of the cow than BSC, this change results in less selection against stature, body depth, and dairy form.

Finally, to account for updated milk component prices, the new NM$ formula increases emphasis on fat while decreasing emphasis on protein slightly.

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Introducing JPI 2017

With April proofs comes the introduction of JPI 2017 to replace the previous JPI 2015.

Jersey Performance Index™ (JPI™) is the American Jersey Cattle Association’s (AJCA) strategy for increasing lifetime net income.

The AJCA took into account the following three key fundamentals for Jersey sustainability while determining JPI 2017. These fundamentals were determined by a Capper and Cady 2012 study comparing the environmental impact of Jersey and Holstein milk for cheese production.

  • Increase production
  • Maintain body size
  • Maintain or improve components

What is the purpose of the new JPI 2017?

  • Increase milk production
  • Improve the density of milk
  • Moderate body weight
  • Improve herd life, fertility, udder health, and functional conformation

What new traits have been added to the formula? 

  • CFP Milk
    • Every 100 pounds of PTA milk needs 8.8 pounds combined fat and protein
    • Pounds of Milk = CFP/0.088
    • CFP Milk = PTA Milk – Pounds of Milk
    • If CFP Milk is positive, the JPI™ value is negative because there is more water than components
  • Body Weight Composite (BWC)
    • Proxy for feed efficiency, and replaces body size composite
  • PTA Cow Livability
    • Measures a cow’s ability to stay alive on the farm

What is the impact of JPI 2017? 
  • Significant drops in JPI for all industry sires.
    • The upper JPI threshold will drop from about 300 JPI to 230 JPI, and all industry bulls will drop in their JPI value.
  • Significant rescaling, similar to a base change.
    • We see genomic sires JPI™ values fall 38 points on average
  • Some re-ranking – in both directions
    • Some minor and some significant

Here is a full breakdown of the new JPI 2017. In the simplest terms, JPI 2017 has five percent less weight on production and five percent more weight on type traits as compared to JPI 2015. But there’s more to it than that. The following traits are new additions to the JPI 2017 formula.

Image comparing the genetic index weights on production, health and type traits for JPI 2015 versus JPI 2017

JPI 2015JPI 2017
Protein4330
Fat1515
CFP Milk-8
PRODUCTION TOTAL WEIGHT5853
Productive life106
Cow livability-4
Somatic cell score66
Daughter pregnancy rate77
Cow conception rate22
Heifer conception rate22
HEALTH TOTAL WEIGHT2727
Stature-0.6-0.9
Strength-0.1-3.4
Dairy form2.0
Rump angle-0.1
Rump width0.2-0.7
Rear Legs -0.1-0.1
Foot angle0.10.1
Fore udder2.62.4
Rear udder height1.91.8
Rear udder width0.10.1
Udder cleft2.11.9
Udder depth5.14.7
Teat placement1.00.9
Teat length-1.0-0.9
TYPE TOTAL WEIGHT1520
No time is better than now to sit down and review your genetic plan and strategy. When you set your own unique herd index, you will maximize genetic gains in the areas that most impact your farm’s profitability.
Focus on your goals and work with your trusted Alta advisor to create a customized index as an investment in your future.
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