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Top bulls from April 2018 retain their dominance in August plus reliability is boosted for GS sires

Top bulls from April 2018 retain their dominance in August plus reliability is boosted for GS sires

Official Norwegian Red genetic evaluations for August 2018 are now available from Geno. Important improvements have been made to the methods for calculating and displaying breeding values since April 2018. Due to these changes, the breeding values for genomic selected (GS) sires increased in reliability and moved closer to breeding values for daughter proven bulls.

Changes to breeding values

Several important changes were made in calculating and displaying breeding values (BVs) for Norwegian Red (NR). These are explained in more detail in a 6 August web article, Improved BV calculations for Norwegian Red. The net effects of the changes were improved reliabilities for GS sires for most traits (increased 2 to 3%) and stabilization of the base population.


Some reranking occurred among GS sires due to model improvements but the biggest changes users will see are in the overall values for the new BVs. BVs for GS sires dropped significantly for most traits as well as for total merit index (TMI). GS sires still generally outperform daughter proven sires as expected but overall values for most traits are considerably lower than in the recent past due to the cumulative effect of changes. Importantly correlations among genomic-based BVs and later daughter-based BVs in NR are very high.

Notable Daughter Proven sires

Changes to the genetic evaluation programs had only limited impact on the rankings of daughter proven sires as expected. Several daughter proven sires added more daughters but no daughter proven sires were able to dethrone Reitan 2 (11033) from the top of the TMI list for daughter proven sires. Reitan 2 now has 3595 daughters in his Norwegian proof and he outpaces other sires with a TMI of 33. Reitan 2 is dead but some semen may be available in a few countries. Reitan 2 has top GS sons available now including Hustad, Onstad (polled), Kvernmo (polled), Ranheim and Skarphol, all discussed later in this article.


Other interesting daughter proven sires include the very popular Gopollen (11078) who now has 1157 milking daughters in his Norwegian proof. Gopollen is tied with Skretting (11284) with a TMI = 26. Gopollen is a very nice all-around sire but especially excels in daughter fertility (fertility index = 121) and udder conformation (udder index = 125). Gopollen should be available in most markets. Skretting is available in only a few selected markets. His very high TMI is driven by his top index for udder conformation (udder index = 141) and his excellent daughter protein production (protein yield = 127). His udder health index (udder health index = 72) should be considered in his use and contrasts with his excellent udder conformation.


Skjelvan (11039) with a TMI = 24 follows closely behind Reitan 2, Gopollen and Skretting. Skjelvan is remarkable because of his combination of daughter production (protein yield = 141 and fat yield = 137) and high udders (udder depth = 132). Short teat length (teat length = 61) should be considered but this may not limit him in most breeding programs. His purebred daughters (he has 6370 milking daughters in Norway) work well in robots and udder health is close to average for Norwegian Reds (udder health index = 96). Skjelvan has several available GS sons.


Another notable daughter proven sire is Saur (11572) with a TMI of 23. Saur, who is homozygous polled, was used as an early GS sire and has recently become daughter proven. He now has 617 daughters milking in Norway and he will have daughters calving in other countries very soon. Saur daughter production is just above average (protein yield = 108 and fat yield = 106) which is very close to what we expected based on his GS BVs from the time of his first use. Saur daughters are tremendous for daughter fertility (fertility index = 148) which is also very close to what we expected based on his early GS BVs. Saur produces small to moderate sized daughters (stature = 90) that are extremely fertile and problem free. He is best suited for the grazing herd segment.

Several top GS sires are available now or can be exported very soon

Thirty top GS sires have semen currently or soon-to-be available in global markets. Changes to the genetic evaluation procedures mentioned above reduced the BVs for GS sires but 22 available GS sires have TMI of 20 or greater. Nine of the 22 are polled with 2 homozygous polled.


The top GS bull for TMI currently available is Alm (11876) with a TMI of 32. Alm was also the top available GS sire in April 2018 and is available in several countries. Alm is a Skjelvan son with high production and excellent udders (protein yield = 129 and fat yield = 134, udder index = 120). He has a teat length BV of 90 that is more moderate than teat length for his popular sire Skjelvan. Alm has already been purchased or ordered by a large number of high producing and intensively managed herds.


Of the next four available GS sires following Alm, three are sons of Reitan 2 and the fourth, Maele (11789), is a son of Prestangen (10923). These four sires range in TMI from 29 to 31. Skarphol (11855) is a very good all-round sire with excellent udders (udder index = 124) and he is especially high for protein and fat percentages (protein percentage = 129 and fat percentage = 127). Onstad (11819) is polled and an outstanding all-around sire with a great trait profile. Onstad is already popular in a few markets. Ranheim (11851) would be great for heifers (calving ease = 116) and he will sire excellent udders as well (122). Maele will sire excellent udders (udder index = 120) as well as very good daughter fertility and udder health.


Three polled bulls Kvernmo (11837)Melby (11862), and Meland (11826) along with 2 horned bulls Boerset (11813) and Hustad (11817) round out the top 10 available GS sires. Kvernmo and Boerset are already in high demand in some markets and we expect the other 3 sires to sell well also. Kvernmo, Boerset and Meland are especially well-suited for high producing, confinement or housed herds.


Other notable GS sires include Kolbu (11872) and Pollestad (11881). Kolbu is a polled Saur son with a TMI of 24. Kolbu is slightly higher than his sire for production traits (production index = 113) and is extreme for daughter fertility with a fertility index of 140. Pollestad is a Gopollen son with a TMI of 23. Pollestad is A2A2 for beta casein and has a great trait profile. He is high for udder conformation (udder index = 121) and production (production index = 119). Both Kolbu and Pollestad can be recommended on heifers and both may be popular in confinement or housed herds as well as in grazing and organic herds.


The next official genetic evaluations will be available December 4, 2018.


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