Top Holstein donors

Two years ago, in April 2009, HI has published an exclusive list with as many as 250 Holstein families. The article in hand is the sequel of that project, even though - in contrast to that former article - he is geared to a selection focusing primarily on donors with modern bull dam potential. This is not an exclusive publication of the highest genomic cows of the breed but of the most sought-after Holsteins to be competitive especially in that regard.


It’s a long list, a very long list indeed. Holstein International has gathered a total of over 300 cows in an international survey, a survey that hasn’t been published before in that form. That list includes the names of the donors, their pedigrees, the respective basis cows, and the owners, and it has been compiled with the demand of completeness. However, it is almost impossible to really meet that demand. That’s a fact we do want to point out explicitly. The table published on these pages focuses on Holsteins having attracted significant international interest within the past 18 months and thus having been marketed aggressively. At the same time, the table includes quite a few Holsteins that have been nominated directly by out readers. Even so, HI’s editorial staff is aware of the fact that numerous accordingly qualified Holsteins are not listed in our table. Though, it is certain that the most important donors to be used internationally in times of genomics are included in the table. However, not included are the numerous heifers that are in great demand but don’t milk yet. At a later point in time HI will address that group that increasingly gains importance within the breed. The same applies for Holsteins with dominant show qualities that have many descendents as well as for donors to be heavily used as flush cows in individual herds because of their brood cow qualities.


So, how was the selection work done? The task was to list those milking Holsteins that directly impact the entire breed’s development. In other words, the donors listed in our article are bull dams that rank among the top in times of genomic selection, with there genes being available also for commercial milk producers via young sons and heavily reproduced daughters. So, many of the Holsteins to rank at the top on the international index lists are represented. But it is not an alphabetically arranged list of the highest genomic animals worldwide. The decisive criterion for a nomination was the intensity of the production and the marketing of the progeny of those donors. The introduction of the genomic selection led to a dramatic shortening of the generation interval. Not represented are high genomic heifers that are used as bull dams already. We’ll address them and their increasing impact within breeding programs at a later point in time. The same applies for many of the internationally established show cows that are heavily flushed and used for reproduction but just serve a niche market. Especially among those cows nominated by our readers were a number of donors to have just local impact.

So, the focus is on Holsteins that meet the increased demand of the sire analysts around the globe. Many of the names HI has published in April 2009 are not included in the current table. There is no doubt that most of those cows are still being used as donors. HI of course will continue to track their development as well.


Let’s get onto the subject of those donors that made it on our list. As expected, the selection mask HI has worked with favors the modern pedigrees and established cow families in the genomic era. A total of 45 different sires are represented in the table. Not surprising is the dominance of the progeny of Shottle (86 daughters), Goldwyn (60), Bolton (40), Baxter (16), and O-Man (16). And when it comes to the maternal grand sires, the situation is similar: among the front-runners are O-Man (33), Shottle (26), and Goldwyn (17). Also strongly represented are Durham (32), BW Marshall (19), and Outside (16).
In total, the list includes the names of 314 donors from over 200 different families and family branches respectively. The frequent appearance of individual families is connected with their specific spreading and their permanent global marketing. That category includes for instance the descendents of Comestar Laurie Sheik and especially the ones of her great-granddaughter Lautelma Igniter, of Braedale Gypsy Grand, Glen Drummond Splendor, Savage Leigh Bellwood Linda, Sunnylodge Prelude Spottie, Windsor-Manor Rud Zip, Windy-Knoll-View Promis, Lylehaven Lila Z, Markwell Durham Daisy, and of course the descendents of Regancrest-PR Barbie. It is not necessarily self-evident that those families play their trumps to such an extent, though it’s not a surprise either. The potential of those families eclipsed the breed prior to the introduction of genomic proofs already. Tough, in contrast to quite a few other widespread cow families they were able to emphasize their qualities also under genomic standards.


Let’s come back to Barbie once again. In some respects, that excellent Durham daughter from the Regancrest herd forms a bridge to a different kind of cow families that attained a completely new image through the introduction of the genomic selection. Barbie is associated automatically with high genomic indexes and exceptional transmitting power. Her progeny including Brasilia, Brocade, or Cassidy are among the most sought-after donors worldwide. However, quite a while before Barbie, other remarkable brood cows ranked among the stars of the breed until they slowly lost some of their importance, and thanks to genomics they now undergo an indescribable revival. In place of that category we want to mention especially 3 families that would never have been taken into account as the basis for current genomic superstars only 3 or 4 years ago. Or would you have credited a family primarily known for their conformation potential like the one of MS Kingstead Chief Adeen with the importance they have today? A Durham granddaughter to Adeen, MD-Delight Atlee EX-92 once was celebrated as one of the best 3-year-olds ever marveled at in the Madison show ring. The marketing of her descendents rather focused on the enumeration of show successes than of indexes. Her sons, Maple-Downs-I GW Atwood and MS Atlees Sht Aftershock, suddenly emerged not only as expectedly high conformation sires but also as predominant young bulls on gTPI basis. They continue to rank among the worldwide most heavily marketed genomic young bulls. In the wake of their brothers, individuals like Abigail, Ariel, or Aubry have taken the lead of the global Holstein breeding.


The same phenomenon as with Adeen applies to Whittier-Farms Lead Mae and Ralma Juror Faith. Those 2 basis cows are among the cornerstones of modern Holstein breeding. The fact that descendents of those 2 cows rank among the front-runners at any auction sale as a result of their genomic figures is one of the surprises involved in the introduction of genomics. Great-great-granddaughters to Mae, the full sisters Wabash-Way Emilyann and Evett are 2 of the early superstars of the genomic era. Their daughters and sons like for example Emilyann’s Bolton son Wabash-Way Explode are among the breed’s most coveted individuals.
The descendents of Juror Faith stand out at each international top auction. Names such as Ralma Goldwyn Carmel and Ralma Shottle have lent the Faith family’s reputation that modern touch they appear with internationally. A list of the worldwide most sought-after donors that doesn’t include those names would be unimaginable.


A particular group of donors on the list of the sought-after donors would be the group of a number of well-known show cows. Harvue Roy Frosty EX-96 spearheads that group. Against all expectations, that conformation icon has played to the gallery also outside the show ring with several good genomic sons and daughters. By now, she has several sons at a number of AIs around the world, and her highest daughter (by Goldwyn) has a gTPI of almost 2100 points. Not at the highest level but at a surprisingly high level are the descendents of Bassingthorpe Daisy, a 1st crop Shottle daughter in the UK. She too started out into a career as a bull dam.
Even the daughters and granddaughters of the German show diva, Batke’s Outside Kora, currently rank among the top group on the national index lists. The mating of Goldwyn on that former European Champion resulted in 2 of the highest and most sought-after German bull dams, that in turn at present underline their surprisingly good genomic potential with high sons and daughters.


In addition to many well-known names, the currently high pace of international Holstein breeding has provided for a couple of high newcomers that hardly have made an appearance so far. The rise of Larcrest Cosmopolitan to one of the most popular donor cows is just one example. Her leap to the top of the list of the breed’s most important brood cows took exactly as long as the conversion of her order of base pairs on the 60 chromosomes into genomic proofs. Her brood-cow background is based upon the qualities of the talented Larcrest Juror Chanel cow, and with Outside she’s got to offer the surprise bull of the genomic era as her maternal grandsire. Her leap onto the genomic top lists and the mating lists of the worldwide active breeding programs nevertheless was unforeseeable. Cosmopolitan and her daughter Crimson spearhead the group of donor newcomers with their combination of high indexes and a solid family tree.
However, Crimson is not the only Holstein that have taken the top lists by storm as comparatively unknown newcomers in recent months. On such a list, the descendents of the amazingly consistently transmitting UFM-Dubs Eroy cow of course must not be missed out. If you’ve bet on that cow family in times prior to the genomic era, then you have been pleased with something like a win in the lottery in the meantime. By now, the members of that family that have supplied numerous high genomic sons to a number of countries already, rank among the most coveted and most expensive animals in the Holstein world.
We could further extend the list of the new “hot” donors. Names such as Clear Echo 822 Ramo, Co-Op Boliver Yoyo, or De-Su 7051 are just a few examples. So, the list of the most important donors needs to be updated also in the future. The current table on these pages forms the basis for the months to come. The next list will be published without any doubt, and it will be extended with quite a few names that are unknown as yet. The past 18 months have supplied a foretaste on that fact.


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