There’s a dead-heat at the top of the new genomic sire rankings which – combined with four new bulls in the top 10, 10 newcomers in the top 20 and the introduction of three newly developed genetic evaluations (see panel) – makes this month’s young sire offering of particular interest to Holstein breeders.
Published today by AHDB Dairy, the Profitable Lifetime Index (£PLI) ranking sees both Mr Rubi-Agronaut and the De-Su 13050 Spectre son, ABS Outback take the joint lead, each with a PLI of £814. Agronaut retains the position he previously held, with an index which features high milk quality (Predicted Transmitting Ability (PTA) +0.24% fat and +0.10% protein) and the highest Type Merit, at +3.12, amongst the top £PLI bulls. Meanwhile, Outback stands out for low feed costs for Maintenance (-2) as well as a strong rating for the newly released Lameness Advantage at +2.3.
Paternal half-brother to Outback, also by De-Su 13050 Spectre and also new in the top 10, is ABS Crimson (£784 PLI). Crimson is a production specialist, transmitting 952kg milk with an incredible 49.7kg fat.
The familiar names of components transmitter, VH Balisto Brook (PLI £783) and health and fertility specialist, Peak AltaDepot (PLI £781) are in fourth and fifth place, while former number one sire, Westcoast Perseus, ranks sixth (PLI £766). Claynook Casper joins the fray in seventh position, with a PLI £764 and a strong Lameness Advantage of +2.3.
New in eighth place is the Jedi son, Bomaz Skywalker (£760 PLI). Skywalker is a high protein transmitter (PTA 32.7kg), who scores well for Calf Survival at +2.5.
Progenesis Doctor now ranks ninth (PLI £757), and rounding off the top 10 is another new entry, Co-op Aardema Juicy (£756 PLI). Both Doctor and Juicy have very favourable maintenance scores (-5) and Juicy combines this with high protein (32kg) and a good Calf Survival Index (+2.2).
Just missing out on the top 10 is the UK-bred Prehen Lancaster – again with favourably low maintenance costs – while 12th ranking No-Pe Zekon cannot go without mention. As the highest ranking Czech bull ever seen in the UK rankings (PLI £749 and with 994kg milk), he demonstrates how the best genetics are internationally sourced for the benefit of UK farmers.
As genetic indexes reach new highs with this latest tranche of young sires, Marco Winters, head of animal genetics for AHDB Dairy says: “To help improve farmers’ competitiveness, AHDB Dairy has created a set of six key performance indicators (KPIs) which farmers should benchmark their herds against to identify areas for improvement and one of these KPIs is the genetic merit of the herd.
“It is critical that farmers don’t underestimate the impact of using the right genetics and the easiest and fastest way to make improvement in this area is by choosing the next group of mating sires from amongst these top genetic merit bulls.”