German Genomic Bull would top UK list

German genomic bull Borussia would top UK breeding lists if genomic bulls from the country were included in UK proofs. He is an example of Germany’s rapid and impressive progress in developing genomic bulls.

Using conversion factors used by Holstein UK and Dairy Co, Bullsemen.com has calculated that Borussia has a PLI score of +294. That is 41 points higher than the highest available genomic bull in the August 2012 proofs. But he is not alone, with four other German genomic bulls with a PLI score of higher than +250 and 62 above the +200 mark.

Germany came relatively late to the science of genomics with the technology only launched in 2010. But this cautious approach has not held the country back since. Usage has increased by 25% in 2012 alone and around 45% of the bulls used nationally are now genomic.

“Half a million pedigree Holstein bull calves are available for genomic testing every year,” says Jörg Harms of German breeding company GGI.

“From that pool, 10,000 of the best are selected for genotyping. In the past only 1,000 were selected, so we are able to pick the best from a much larger sample. From that 10,000, 150 top 200 bulls with the highest genomic Estimated Breeding Value (gEBV) are selected for marketing.”

Germany is in a prime position to develop top genomic bulls as it has the largest and most detailed reference breeding programme in the world. This is particularly so for functional traits. Besides the large number of German bulls available for testing, exchange of information with French, Scandinavian and Dutch breeding partners widens the net further. The German daughter proof is also one of the most robust available and includes between 40 and 100 daughters.

“That scale of daughter proof means that the genomic data can be backed up with actual results from the bull’s daughters,” says Jörg.

He addresses concerns that the reliability of gEBVS at 70% is less than that of daughter proofs at 90% by saying:

“The EBVs for genomic bulls are so much higher than those of traditionally bred bulls in the first place, that the risk of ending up with a very low scoring bull is negligible.”

Robust calculations

Unlike other countries, Germany has decided not to use full parent averages when calculating gEBVs. Instead the figure is derived from using a combination of the direct genomic value and the sire pedigree index. The fact that the world’s largest test population is being used, means breeders can only bring bulls to the market that they are certain will perform strongly.

Currently only the proofs of American, Canadian and Italian genomic bulls have been published in the UK; all four countries are part of the North American genomic alliance. Germany is in a European genomic alliance and does not currently share information with the UK. But Nick Kirby, managing director of Bullsemen.com, says that does not stop British dairy farmers from benefiting from German genomic bulls. The company is the sole seller of semen from GGI in the UK.

“Although German genomic bulls are currently not on the proof, dairy farmers can still benefit from their world-leading traits as we stock a full range of bulls from the country.”

One genomic German bull that has gained a daughter proof is Goldday. Launched initially with a genomic proof he became the No.1 bull in Germany, now with a daughter proof he continues to be the top selling bull on the German market. Goldday’s figures convert well in the UK – scoring + 3 for Type Merit and Feet & Legs, with a PLI of 193.

Other German genomic bulls that have impressed Mr Kirby include Antares, with a score of +3 for Type Merit and Deal P, a polled red Holstein with a PLI 0f +126 and a Type Merit of +2.61. Emalo is a pure outcross with a +211 PLI and Snowman sons Picanto and Snowboard score highly for PLI and Type.

“The depth and breadth of German genomic bulls is certainly impressive, particularly as the first genomic bulls were only launched a couple of years ago” says Mr Kirby.

“More and more German genomic bulls are coming on line that will offer British dairy farmers an impressive range to improve the profitability and health of their herds.”

German genomic proof ranking using Dairy Co and Holstein UK conversion factors
Name

PLI

Milk

Fat kg

Prot kg

SCC

Lifespan

FI

PIN

MAM

L&F

TM

Borussia

294

688

34.4

31.2

-22

0.5

3.5

62

0.59

0.88

0.83

Picanto

258

639

28.0

23.3

-32

0.7

-1.5

45

2.97

0.48

2.61

Fanatic

255

631

26.5

23.6

-13

0.6

6.0

45

1.52

0.92

1.59

Bedford

252

497

26.2

22.9

-18

0.7

1.3

47

1.35

0.79

1.36

NOG Ikaro

243

554

29.5

21.4

-21

0.5

1.6

45

2.80

0.21

2.42

Le Midi

240

355

25.8

19.9

-31

0.5

3.3

45

0.42

0.81

0.66

Belarius

236

668

29.9

24.0

-21

0.5

2.0

47

0.76

0.22

0.66

NOG Beloni

234

668

30.7

24.0

-11

0.5

2.2

48

1.18

0.78

1.21

Furioso

234

334

25.8

19.5

-6

0.5

7.1

45

0.67

0.84

0.82

Source: Bullsemen.com

 

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