DairyCo’s launch of the new bull proofs this week (Tuesday 6 April) will prompt many dairy farmers to scrutinise the figures even more closely than usual in search of a bull which is not related to Oman (O-Bee Manfred Justice).
This prodigious animal – which has dominated the Holstein Profitable Lifetime Index (£PLI) list since 2003 – holds firm in his number one position, leaving a trail of his sons in his wake.
The breeding pattern characteristic of the Oman bloodlines – featuring low cell counts, good fertility, ease of calving, reduced lameness and long lifespans – is particularly rewarded in the PLI formula, and accounts for the overwhelming popularity of these bulls amongst farmers who are seeking to improve the health, welfare and fitness of their cows.
But for those who have either used these bloodlines heavily already or would prefer to find an alternative, they will have to dig deep.
Immediately behind Oman (PLI £246), is his son, Man-O-Man (full name, Long-Langs Oman Oman), who maintains his second position and is also one of the best production transmitters available, with 665kg milk and 59kg combined fat and protein in his PTA (Predicted Transmitting Ability).
A relative newcomer in third position is UFM-Dubs AltaEsquire - another Oman son, and uncle to the bull ranked tenth. With an impressive 35kg fat PTA he also has a range of good fitness traits including daughter fertility.
Further improving on his PLI, and moving into fourth position is the tremendous long-term all-rounder, Braedale Goldwyn. This bull’s early sons will generate great interest, and the highest ranking at present is Ladys-Manor Aurora, with a PLI of £136.
Previous top 10 bulls, Oman sons, Tyson, Eight and Legend, confirm their positions, while moving into the top 10 from 13th last time is Co-op Oman Logan. It is this bull’s improved Lifespan Index, up to +0.3, which accounts for his higher ranking, and he now stands one PLI point ahead of his paternal brother, Mainstream Manifold, who ranks eighth.
Rounding off the top 10 in equal positions are Ellrod, another Oman son who sees his Lifespan figures improve and Wizzard, sired by Webster. This is not Wizzard’s first entry to the top 10, but he returns thanks to an improvement in his fitness traits.
Highest ranked British
New interest this month comes in the highest ranked new UK progeny tested bull in the shape of Cogent Elvina. With a PLI of £158 and a PTA which is strong on milk solids and good for daughter fertility, this bull provides some relief from the Oman dominance. He has the further attraction of an outcross pedigree as the first son of Cogent Maestro, (a bull which was never marketed in the UK due to his CVM status), while his maternal line descends from the well-known Lou Etta family.
Last run’s highest new UK proven bull, the Talent son, Woodmarsh Talisman, has improved on his already strong fitness transmitting abilities and with a PLI of £153, he now comes into the top 40.
Other high ranking non-Oman bulls are Goolstar Diamond (by Jocko) at PLI £161, and three bulls level-pegging at £156 PLI - Gibor (by Gibon), D Teis (by Titanic) and Kings-Ransom Dover (by Laudan).
Commenting on the continued dominance of the proof run by Oman, DairyCo head of genetics, Marco Winters, says that every dairy farmer should have a place for these bloodlines in their herd.
“I am unperturbed by this situation as these bloodlines provide a means by which to improve the health, welfare and fitness of the UK cow population and to positively impact on herd profitability into the bargain,” said Mr Winters. “Of course, those farmers who have already heavily invested in these bloodlines will need to look elsewhere, but already there are sons of bulls such as Shottle, Goldwyn, Ramos and Laudan coming on stream, and these will help maintain genetic variation and meet a whole range of breeding objectives.
“But whatever their aspirations, I would urge any breeder to shortlist on PLI in the first instance and to rule out any bull which is not at the very least in the top 50 percent. This means selecting bulls with a PLI of at least £70.
“They can then identify the bulls which are predicted to excel in the areas of particular interest for improvement in their herd such as fertility, cell counts, lameness or lifespan.
“And finally, it’s important to remember to look for positive figures in all fitness indexes except cell counts, where negative figures are desirable.”
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