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US top seven reflect early genomic choice

The August 2015 US evaluation run produced an unprecedented top seven TPI bulls graduating from one AI stud, namely Select Sires. Bruce Jobson analyses the resulting impact of genomics on the listing.

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Seagull Bay Supersire ET
Seagull Bay Supersire ET

Ohio-based AI giant Select Sires Incorporated achieved a unique top seven listing in the latest (August 2015) US evaluation run. All seven bulls were former genomic young sires which had graduated through the proving system. Six years into genomic evaluations has provided a clearer indication the technology is providing reliable results.


There is little doubt Select Sires aggressively adopted the use of genomics as a means to produce the next generation of elite sires. Although the public face of genomics started to evolve in the US in 2008, and subsequently was formally introduced in 2009, the US AI units were involved in developing the genomic data base from the SNP 50 chip in 2006. AI companies were able to provide information dating back to the 1960s, and the use of bulls such as Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation, in order to build up the genomic profiles and data sets.


As more and more bulls were genomic tested as well as including recent female profiles, this has increased the reliab- ility and accuracy of data being provided to produce genomic young sire evaluations. Robust The sheer size and scale of the US sire evaluation programme – coupled with a cow population of 10 million – has arguably resulted in the most robust system in the world. Furthermore, the sheer scale has produced increasing levels of genetic progress within a defined time scale.


Perhaps we should first look at a genomic sire we featured following the August 2014 evaluations, Roylane Socra Robust.


Although the bull returned to active service as the number one US TPI sire, Robust was not available to UK breeders as the bull was dead. We stated that, as a benchmark, breeders would have to use young genomic bulls that were greater or above the proven figures delivered by Robust.


In August 2015, Robust remained within the top six listed gTPI sires at 2514 gTPI points. However, his genetic impact is immense, having sired four of the top seven bulls in the latest listing. Effectively, with Robust himself, the bloodline dominates five of the top seven places.


Furthermore, the top four Robust sons – Supersire, Donatello, Headliner and Sterling – are effectively ’full-brothers’ or 100% same bloodline being Robust x Planet matings.


This microcosm confirms genomics is working – perhaps better than many would wish – so let’s have a look at Robust’s profile.


Back in August 2010, Robust listed at number three on the Holstein USA Genomic Young Sire list, this being the time his semen was first released. His peer year group was exceptional, with Robust being listed behind two other Select Sires’ bulls, Observer and Bookem.


The speed of genomic evaluations provided AI units with the opportunity to effectively test second generation genomic bulls – in other words, unproven bulls from unproven bulls. Although this allowed the opportunity for any potential bias within the system to be exaggerated, Select Sires sampled 47 Robust sons. This made him a sire of sons before achieving his own proven status.


Aug 2015



Dec 2011

April 2012

Aug 2012

Sons in AI

Rank 1

Supersire *

04 2012





Rank 2


12 2011





Rank 3


08 2012





Rank 4


04 2012





Rank 5


07 2012





Rank 7


04 2012





Robust is ranked 6. Matings: *Robust x Planet ** Dorcy x Marsh ***Bookem x Shottle


Roylane Socra Robust returned to active service as number one US TPI sire

Roylane Socra Robust returned to active service as number one US TPI sire

Return to service

From the 47 Robust sons tested by Select Sires to date, 26 have received daughter proofs. Five of these bulls have returned to active service, taking the number one, three, four and five listings in August 2015. That is a Select Sires return to service hit rate of about 20% or 1:5. The fifth Robust son, Dante, is listed in 14th position.


Across the broader AI industry, Robust has 111 sons listed as AI bulls in the US genetic evaluation file. In April 2015, we featured the potential impact of Mogul, and this Dorcy son has now graduated and lists in second position in the August 2015 gTPI listing.


His full brother and Select Sires stablemate, Mixer, lists in 10th position, ensuring Select Sires dominance by posting eight of the top 10 listing. Graduating in seventh position is another bull we featured in April, the Bookem x Shottle son McCutchen.


Having focused on Robust, let us take a closer look at how the six other bulls in the top seven listed early in their career In pole position, Supersire (Robust x Planet) was ranked in second position at the time of his semen release in April 2012 and August 2012. The August 2015 second-placed sire, Mogul, was listed in third position in his peer year group when first released in December 2011. By April and August 2012, Mogul listed in 10th and 28th place respectively.


Donatello (Robust x Planet) listed at 24 and 63 in April and August 2012, while Headliner ranked in second, eight and 14th position in December 2011 and April and August 2012. Sterling (Robust x Planet) listed at 33, 45 and 37th position during the same timescale as Headliner, while McCutchen listed in third and seventh position in April and August 2012 respectively. Five of the seven bulls – Robust, Supersire, Mogul, Headliner and McCutchen – were in the top 20 genomic listing at the time of their semen release. And all these sires were in the top 50 at the earliest point of their careers.


This is a clear indication that genomics is working and the benefit of selecting a number of bulls in order to reduce the risks involved of using lower reliability sires compared to the higher reliability provided by proven bulls.


If we now look further into the genomic crystal ball, we see the North American AI industry has placed increasing faith in second generation genomic sons being tested. Supersire already has 231 sons on test, Mogul (296), Donatello (9), Headliner (26), Sterling (4) and McCutchen (134). Clearly, Supersire, Mogul and McCutchen are going to be progenitors of numerous sires of sons.

Mountfield SSI Dcy Mogul ET - Supershire, Mogul and McCutchen are set to be progenitors of several sires of sons

Mountfield SSI Dcy Mogul ET - Supershire, Mogul and McCutchen are set to be progenitors of several sires of sons


It is also accurate to point out that Donatello, Headline and Sterling could have been used more extensively as sires of sons.


However, if good enough their sons will graduate in due course. Another observation we made in April 2015 was the limited breeding 'window of opportunity' provided by faster genomic turnover.


It had been hoped that genomics would provide the possibility of identifying ‘outliers’ or ‘outcrosses’ within the population. This concept now appears unlikely to occur due to the increasing pressures of selection intensity.


From the August 2014 evaluation run, we analysed the top 50 genomic LPI sire listing that demonstrated 18 of the top 50 bulls (36%) were bred by Supersire, 10 sired by McCutchen and 7 by Mogul, or put another way 70% of the bulls listed were sired by three bulls.


In order to compare with similar like-for-like age-adjusted females (potential bullmothers), the top 50 (April 2014) genomic LPI heifer listing contained 26, 10 and 10 daughters bred by Supersire (52%), McCutchen (20%) and Mogul (20%), or 92% in total from these same three bulls.


Moving forward, as in the case with Robust and his sons, more 'full- brothers' or 100% same bloodline siblings will graduate within the same timescale. As to the question of narrowing bloodlines, we will need to use computer mating programmes to help identify and reduce the potential for inbreeding within the herd.

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