The Holstein breed has a new #1 proven sire. MR-T Spruce Frazz LIONEL-ET rises to +$1252 Net Merit with the inclusion of 1209 additional daughters in his April evaluation.
With an increase of $248 in Net Merit from December 2021 to April 2022, LIONEL moved to the top spot on the list for Holstein sires with milking daughters and stands among the best available sires overall. While demonstrating the power of combining daughter information with genomic data, this is an unprecedented increase that deserves a deeper review.
Mr T-Spruce Frazz LIONEL-ET:
Comparison of April and December Evaluations
Since there were several updates to the evaluation system in April, it’s natural to ask if the system updates contributed to this bull’s boost in Net Merit. Upon seeing the large variance in LIONEL’s evaluation, the staff at the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) and USDA AGIL* completed a series of checks and determined that the evaluation system worked as it should. First, CDCB confirmed that the inclusion of milk-only records and the fertility trait updates did not affect this bull’s evaluation.
In December, LIONEL’s reliability was 94% with 120 milking daughters in 40 herds complementing his genomic prediction. In April, LIONEL added performance records for a total of 1329 daughters in 75 herds to his evaluation, all from the U.S. and including an influx of crossbred (Holstein x Jersey) daughters from a handful of herds. Notably, the crossbred daughters had decreased the average daughter inbreeding value for LIONEL significantly. While LIONEL improved across all production traits, the large increase in Fat Pounds is most remarkable and likely the greatest contributor to the increase in Net Merit.
As an additional checkpoint, CDCB ran an evaluation that excluded four of the herds having mostly crossbred daughters, to determine the effect of the added crossbred data. Results showed that after excluding these four herds, the increase in Net Merit for this bull remained very high, demonstrating that both his purebred and crossbred daughters contributed to this bull’s outstanding results.
CDCB also confirmed that the sire x herd interaction factor worked correctly in this case to manage the concentration of daughter information across herds. This factor is built into all statistical models to limit the amount of influence that single herds can have on the evaluation of specific sires.
There are multiple check-and-balances in place for the U.S. genetic evaluation. One of these is the Dairy Evaluation Review Team (DERT), established in 2017 to provide independent, objective, impartial reviews of the CDCB dairy genetic evaluation results about a week before their official release. This feedback loop is done with a confidential agreement and reduces the likelihood that inaccurate predictions are publicly released. The DERT group includes Sam Comstock and Tom Lawlor (Holstein Association USA), Mehdi Sargolzaei (Select Sires), Ryan Starkenburg (ABS Global) and Bob Welper (Urus).
Another industry collaboration includes the Dairy Sire Evaluation committee (DSEC) of the National Association of Animal Breeders. DSEC was also involved in preparation for the April evaluations, per routine processes.
With the high volume of leading sires used in large herds, sexed semen utilization, and evaluation updates occurring every four months, large influxes in daughter numbers from run to run will continue to be common. CDCB, AGIL and the industry committees will carry on with ongoing assessment of the U.S. system and data flow to ensure long-term accuracy and stability of evaluations. This is particularly essential given the changing demographics of U.S. dairy herds, new data pipelines, and rapid development of reproductive technologies used by increasingly larger herds.
*Animal Genomics and Improvement Laboratory, United States Department of Agriculture
Provided by Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding