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December 2017 specialty 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.

We have access to all you need in one place. You can find lists to download and print with any of Alta’s Holstein and Jersey specialty sires. Below, you’ll find A2A2, polled, outcross, robot-suited and kappa casein sires. There is also with DWP$ and WT$, milking speed, and registry status listings and info on our highest fertility beef bulls to be used for terminal dairy crosses.

Work with your trusted Alta advisor to customize your genetic plan using our Advanced Bull Search or Alta GPS.
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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.

TPI Formula

PRODUCTION TRAITS = 46%

46PRODUCTION TRAIT WEIGHTS
19Pounds of protein
19Pounds of fat
8Feed efficiency

HEALTH TRAITS = 29%

29HEALTH TRAIT WEIGHTS
13Fertility Index
5Productive Life
-4Somatic Cell Score
3Cow Livability
2CDCB Health Trait Index
1Daughter Calving Ease
1Daughter Stillbirth

CONFORMATION TRAITS = 25%

25CONFORMATION TRAIT WEIGHTS
11Udder Composite
8PTA Type
6Foot & Leg Composite

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 reference base population born in 2015. 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.

Net Merit$ breakdown

PRODUCTION TRAITS = 45%

45PRODUCTION TRAIT WEIGHTS
27Pounds of fat
17Pounds of protein
-1Pounds of milk

HEALTH TRAITS = 40%

40HEALTH TRAIT WEIGHTS
12Productive Life
7Cow Livability
7Daughter Pregnancy Rate
5Calving Ability
-4Somatic Cell Score
2Health Trait Index
2Cow Conception Rate
1Heifer Conception Rate

CONFORMATION TRAITS = 15%

15CONFORMATION TRAIT WEIGHTS
7Udder Composite
-6Body Weight Composite
3Foot & 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 August 2018 and the following trait weights are considered. Please take note that trait weights shown have been rounded to the nearest percentage.

Cheese Merit weights

PRODUCTION TRAITS = 52%

52PRODUCTION TRAIT WEIGHTS
21Pounds of protein
23Pounds of fat
-8Pounds of milk

HEALTH TRAITS = 35%

35HEALTH TRAIT WEIGHTS
11Productive Life
6Cow Livability
6Daughter Pregnancy Rate
4Calving Ability
-4Somatic Cell Score
2Health Trait Index
1Cow Conception Rate
1Heifer Conception Rate

CONFORMATION TRAITS = 13%

13CONFORMATION TRAIT WEIGHTS
6Udder Composite
-5Body Weight Composite
2Foot & Leg Composite

FM$ = Fluid Merit Dollars

FM$ is an index calculated by CDCB. It is best suited to dairies operating in a fluid milk market that are paid for total pounds of milk produced (as opposed to payment for components). The current FM$ index was adjusted in August 2018 and the following trait weights are considered.

PRODUCTION TRAITS = 46%

46PRODUCTION TRAIT WEIGHTS
27Pounds of fat
18Pounds of milk

HEALTH TRAITS = 38%

38HEALTH TRAIT WEIGHTS
12Productive Life
7Cow Livability
7Daughter Pregnancy Rate
5Calving Ability
-2Somatic Cell Score
2Health Trait Index
2Cow Conception Rate
1Heifer Conception Rate

CONFORMATION TRAITS = 16%

16CONFORMATION TRAIT WEIGHTS
8Udder Composite
-5Body Weight Composite
3Foot & Leg Composite

GM$ = Grazing Merit Dollars

GM$ is an index calculated by CDCB to most heavily weigh the traits that affect grazing herds preferring seasonal calving. The current GM$ index was adjusted in August 2018 and the following trait weights are considered.

PRODUCTION TRAITS = 38%

38PRODUCTION TRAIT WEIGHTS
23Pounds of fat
14Pounds of protein
1Pounds of milk

HEALTH TRAITS = 46%

46HEALTH TRAIT WEIGHTS
18Daughter Pregnancy Rate
7Productive Life
5Cow Livability
4.5Calving Ability
-3.5Somatic Cell Score
4Cow Conception Rate
2Heifer Conception Rate
2Health Trait Index

CONFORMATION TRAITS = 16%

16CONFORMATION TRAIT WEIGHTS
7Udder Composite
-6Body Weight Composite
3Foot & Leg Composite

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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Polled genetics – examine the pros and cons

The polled gene in dairy cattle is dominant over the horned gene

Polled dairy cattle trace back as far as pedigree records have been kept. The polled gene in dairy cattle is dominant over the horned gene. Yet horned cattle are still much more prevalent in the global dairy population because few producers ever chose to select for polled cattle as part of their breeding program. This is because the real, economic paybacks of selecting for production, health and conformation traits has traditionally trumped the desire for polled genetics.

Genomic selection has allowed polled enthusiasts to focus on high ranking polled animals to propagate the polled population. However, producers stressing genetic improvement in other traits are also advancing their genetics at an equally rapid rate.

You can add polled as a criteria to your genetic plan, but must keep in mind the financial repercussions of that decision in terms of the pounds of milk and components you’ll give up, and the health and fertility you may need to sacrifice, just to avoid dehorning.

The more recent public awareness about dehorning cattle has made it another hot button topic in the industry. The naturally hornless cattle have gained popularity in recent years because of consumer opinion on the dehorning process, and the side effects they feel result from it. This perception has driven producers to create more naturally polled animals than ever in the past.

The pros of polled genetics

Despite the genetic and performance sacrifices made by selecting for polled animals, many producers do see the opportunity to incorporate polled genetics into their breeding program.

  • Avoid dehorning

You can save dollars, time, and labor, and also minimize stress on your calves by foregoing the need for dehorning. The average dehorning cost varies from one farm to the next based on the chosen method of dehorning, and there is a chance of causing additional stress on the calves during a crucial growth time.

However, it’s important to remember that modern dehorning methods done properly, and at an early age, will nearly eliminate stress on the calves, and will minimize your time and costs.

  • Cater to consumer perceptions

It’s a fact that consumer perception directs many aspects of the dairy industry’s reality. Animal rights activists have criticized dehorning for years, but it hasn’t been until recently that the general public has joined the activists’ view on dehorning as a detrimental process. With increased awareness about this common farm chore also comes increased consumer demands on how they feel farmers should handle it on their dairies.

We clearly don’t want animals with horns running around dairies, so the question is whether to dehorn calves or breed for polled genetics. Unless consumers are willing to pay a premium for milk from naturally hornless cattle, you will likely be leaving dollars on the table by selecting exclusively for homozygous polled sires if you want to ensure no animals are born with horns.

  • The polled gene is dominant

The basics of genetics tell us that since the polled gene is dominant over the horned gene, animals with one copy of the polled gene and one copy of the horned gene will not have horns, and a naturally hornless animal can be created in one generation. It also means it is easier to make more polled animals faster than if the polled gene was recessive.

An animal can have one of three combinations for the polled/horned gene:

PP = homozygous polled means this animal has no horns, an all offspring from the animal will be born without horns
Pp = heterozygous polled means this animal does not have horns, but offspring may or may not have horns depending on their mate
pp = born with horns

If you’re starting with only horned animals in your herd, the figures below demonstrate your results mating cows to a polled sire. The table on the left shows that a homozygous polled bull bred to a horned cow will result in 100% hornless offspring. The table on the right illustrates that a heterozygous polled sire bred to a horned cow will result in only 50% polled offspring.

The downside to polled genetics

Eliminating the need for dehorning may seem like the right choice for your dairy. However, the genetic sacrifices you will make in order to get to that point cannot be overlooked. Whenever you add extra selection criteria to your genetic plan, you will sacrifice in other areas. Here are just a few reasons to think twice about selecting exclusively for polled genetics in your herd.

  • The continuous need for polled sires
    Like mentioned above, the polled gene is dominant, so you can create a polled offspring in just one generation. What many producers tend to forget is that, at this point, maintaining a population of polled cattle in your herd is much more difficult.

As the images above show, using a heterozygous polled bull will not yield 100% polled offspring. To get to the point of a completely polled herd, and to maintain it once you’re there, you continually need to use only homozygous polled sires. This may not seem difficult, but it leads to the next shortcoming of using exclusively polled sires.

  • Limited availability and variation on polled sires
    Since the prevalence of polled animals within the various dairy breeds is still low, it will still take many generations to genetically eradicate horned animals from your herd if you want to maintain reasonable inbreeding levels.

Even though the number of polled bulls in active AI has increased substantially over recent years, the total number of sires providing that polled gene is still limited. AI companies will only bring in bulls at genetic levels high enough to help you make progress in your herd. And since selection for polled animals has only recently gained popularity, many of the polled bulls are closely related – either from a small group of elite polled cow families or with sires in common.

Even with selection standards in place for elite polled animals, their genetic levels don’t yet match up.

  • Genetic sacrifice and compromised future performance
    Most importantly, at this point in time, polled bulls, as a whole, don’t yet live up to the genetic levels of their horned counterparts. With polled as a strict selection criteria, you will miss out on the best sires, regardless if you select from the genomic or daughter-proven lists. When you figure the amount of production, health and conformation that could be lost by limiting your options to only polled sires, dehorning calves becomes even less of an issue.

Review your pros and cons for polled genetics

As you set your genetic plan keep in mind the pros and cons of selecting exclusively for polled genetics. At this point, the overall genetic and performance levels of horned animals still outpace those of polled cattle. Modern dehorning methods minimize stress on calves, so when performed correctly and at the proper time, it should be almost a non-issue.

On the flip side, you could make a case for exclusively polled sire selection if your milk plant is willing to pay more for milk from polled cattle, or if consumer perception drives your decisions.

Regardless of your selection decision, make sure it aligns with the customized genetic plan you put in place so the genetic progress you make on your farm is in the direction of your goals.

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