The bull is the Canadian, Gen-I-Beq Lavaman, who made his name as the number one young sire on the UK’s first ever genomic ranking three years ago. Lavaman has many daughters milking around the world, including 54 in the UK. On the strength of their performance, he earns £PLI of £640. Lavaman is a son of Man-O-Man, a former number one £PLI sire himself.
The number two bull is the former front-runner, Prehen Omen, the first of two bulls bred in the UK to feature in the top 10. Now with 90 UK milking daughters and featuring high-quality milk, his £PLI is £607.
The third ranking Kings-Ransom Erdman earns his PLI of £544 partly on the strength of his low daughter maintenance costs and their long lifespans while fourth-placed Grafit maintains his high position (£531) with an exceptional Somatic Cell Count Index (SCC -18).
Mainstream Manifold is a big mover in the rankings, having jumped into fifth position from just outside the top 20. Now with 1,584 daughters milking in the UK, but thousands more around the world, having produced more than one million doses of semen, Manifold has been popular for his ease of calving, outstanding daughter fertility and exceptional fat production. His £PLI is £519.
Marco Winters, head of genetics for DairyCo says: “The new £PLI list provides a huge cross-section of sires – both within and beyond the top 20 – which can be used with confidence by UK dairy farmers.
“However, it is particularly gratifying the list also provides such a resounding endorsement of the genomic testing system, which has been in place in the UK since April 2012.
“With no less than 14 bulls in the top 20 which started their careers with high genomic indexes, we can gain more and more confidence is selecting young sires using indexes calculated from their own DNA.”
1 Gen-I-Beq Lavaman (£640)
2 Prehen Omen (£607)
3 Kings-Ransom Erdman (£531)
4 Grafit (£531)
5 Mainstream Manifold (£519)
=6 McCormick (£508)
=6 Laurehill Classic (£508)
=8 ABS Simon (£504)
=8 Ladys-Manor Grafeeti (£504)
=8 Alta Everrglade (£504)
The genetic ranking specifically designed for UK herds operating a spring block calving system remains unchanged at the top with the Jersey sires Tester, Link and Holmer holding on to the leading positions. Their spring calving indexes (£SCIs) are £424, £421 and £391, respectively.
Joining the three Jerseys is number one Holstein sire Lavaman, providing a higher production alternative for those interested in boosting yields. His £SCI is £388.
Two British Friesian sires also enter the top 10 in this April 2015 index in the shape of Langley Evolution (best for daughter fertility index in the top 20) and Catlane Caleb. Their £SCIs are £352 and £351, respectively.
Mr Winters says: “The £SCI was launched last August specifically for herds which block calve in spring, place a heavy reliance on grazed grass and are targeting annual average production of about 4,500 litres. "Costs of production are entirely different for this system compared with those in traditional, supplement-fed herds which is why this index is only suited to spring block-calving herds.
“The list is also particularly useful to breeders who are considering cross-breeding their herds as it is the only ranking where one breed is compared directly against another. However, even within each breed there is significant genetic variation which means farmers should be mindful of which bull they choose, both within and across breeds."
The sire indexes for the specialist dairy breeds show stability reflecting the significantly smaller population sizes and slower genetic turnover among the non-Holsteins.
The leading Jersey remains Danish VJ Link, whose PLI of £494 reflects his strong production and good health, including a somatic cell count index of -19 and daughter fertility index (FI) of +11.1.
Among the British Friesians, Langley Evolution retains his lead with excellent health traits, somatic cell count (SCC -14) and daughter FI (+13.1) giving a £PLI of £375.
Gunnarstorp has regained his number one position for the Ayrshire list, offering strong production and good health (SCC -14; FI +10.1). His £PLI is £494.
Huray holds onto top position for the Brown Swiss with excellent production, good daughter lifespans and fertility and a £PLI of £451.
For the Montbeliarde breed, Crasat tops the list with high production, low cell counts and a £PLI of £331. The leading Fleckvieh is Ricki (£308). New at the top of the Shorthorn list is the UK-bred Scandinavian Red, Skyhigh Oscar (£354) and De Garis Bettys Bertie remains the front-runner ranked on Guernsey merit index.
Mr Winters says: “All dairy breeds had a small downward adjustment to their type figures to reflect the genetic progress made during the last five years.
“In addition, the Type Merit formula has been updated by DairyCo in consultation with the respective herdbooks of the Ayrshire, Brown Swiss and Jersey breeds to better reflect their breeding goals.
“It is important to remember the £PLI and its components should not be compared directly between breeds. The figures for each breed are calculated to relate to each breed average, so comparing figures across breeds would be both meaningless and potentially misleading."
The top two young sires ranked on genomic £PLI remain unchanged with the Canadian Enforcer sons, Penmanship and Boardshop, retaining the number one and two positions. Penmanship’s £PLI of £724, combined with an outstanding lifespan transmission (LS Index +0.7), good production (predicted transmitting ability for milk 614kg) and high daughter fertility index (+10.4) keep him firmly in the lead.
Penmanship’s paternal half-brother Boardshop shows a similar transmitting pattern and has a PLI of £657.
Third placed Firewall (AltaJackman x Shamrock) edges up from fifth position and, like the two bulls above him, is a son of a genomic young sire. Milk quality and low maintenance costs are features of his index, as is a fat transmission of +0.17 per cent. His PLI is £648.
Fourth ranking De-Su Acrobate (Jetset x Bookem) is the highest new entry with a PLI of £639 and, like the bulls above him, transmits the high £PLI characteristics of strong production, high fitness and solid conformation.
De-Su Octavian moves up to fifth position and is the highest Numero-Uno son in the rankings, with a PLI of £633. With a somatic cell count index of -31, he is the best cell count improver in the top 10.
Mr Winters says: “These top genomic young sires offer the best Holstein breeding on offer globally. They outperform older proven sires on every level, with high fitness, fertility and conformation, alongside solid production figures.”