ABS & Dairy News
Riding the genomics juggernaut
28 November 2016
Brian Behnke lashed himself to the mast of the speeding genomics juggernaut when he took on the role of business manager of ABS’s globally renowned breeding business, St Jacobs.
Behnke is heading to International Dairy Week in January to meet the dairy farmers and specialist breeders who flock to the St Jacobs banner for high type sires.
Genetic selection criteria have changed rapidly since the introduction of genomics. Bull selection has shifted and increasingly favours what can be seen in the genomic evaluation numbers. Breeding businesses are under pressure to keep pace with the changing demands of dairy farmers seeking increasingly rapid rates of genetic gain.
Behnke comes to the new role, which he took on in July 2016, with a wealth of experience in dairy cattle breeding and the A.I. industry. He has a thorough understanding of genomics, evaluation systems and pedigrees and has worked as a sales manager and sire analyst.
Born and bred in Wisconsin, in the heart of US dairy country, he is now responsible for the global strategic direction of the St. Jacobs brand and product offering as well as promoting the brand across the different business regions. His goal will be to grow the brand’s reputation for overall type improvement by fast tracking better bulls with a balance of great cow families that have a track record of show success and that have the highest possible numbers around type, udders, daughter pregnancy rate, productive life, sire calving ease, somatic cell score, production, rumps and teat length.
Dairy farmers and breeders around the world are becoming more 'technical' with their breeding, taking in the new data available from genomics and increasingly testing their cows for a wide variety of desirable attributes, including fertility, health and production as well as show winning cow families.
An accomplished cow-man, Behnke has judged numerous dairy cattle shows both domestically and abroad, including the 2005 Grand International Red & White Show, Western Spring National and Wisconsin State Fair, the Canadian Scotia 4-H Classic, National Guernsey Show in Louisville and Madison as well as shows in the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Japan.
Brian and his wife Tami live in Albany, Wisconsin and work with Tami’s family farm, Glenn-Ann Holsteins, 2016 National Herd of Excellence award winner from Holstein USA.
Brian Behnke will be at the ABS marquee at IDW on Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 January.
Back to top
ABS introduces ‘Bull Search’ – an unrivalled guide to dairy genetics
23rd September 2016
In a world first, ABS Global has launched ‘Bull Search’, an unrivalled genetic guide to dairy sires across the world.
Bull Search provides Australian dairy farmers with tailored data on all the bulls currently available in Australia as well as putting an incredible level of detailed information on leading sires in the key breeding countries at their fingertips.
Bull Search is freely available on the ABS Australia website at http://www.absglobal.com/aus - Click on ‘Dairy Bull Search’ in the Top Menu.
The new tool has the capability to map a farm’s genetic gain by the group of bulls and the quantities required in a genetic summary page. Dairy farmers can create and save their breeding goals for future bull proof updates so their bull list is always updating.
“We have listened to feedback from dairy farmers and designed a tool that is very straight forward yet capable of searching for any active ABS or industry sire by name or code,” said Paul Quinlan, National Sales Manager.
Bull Search has a full list of sires being actively marketed in Australia showing pedigree, production, genomics and photo support. It is a comprehensive search tool that enables dairy farmers and their advisors to view dairy genetic data in a more efficient and accessible way.
“Bull Search allows dairy farmers and advisors to search for bulls according to their ranking in Australia, US, Canada and UK. Each list ranks bulls according to the main ranking system in that country,” said Paul. “In Australia bulls are ranked according to the Balanced Performance Index (BPI).”
Beyond their BPI rankings there is the capacity to search and compare sires according to the attributes a dairy farmer is looking for.
“We wanted to make sure Bull Search would be useful to dairy farmers,” said Paul. “It is very practical with an ‘easy to use’ filtering system that homes in on desired attributes.
“You can compare up to three sires side by side and extend a sire’s pedigree in order to trace more lineage information.”
The quest for increased genetic gain to drive profitability on dairy farms has made dairy farmers more data-focused than ever. Bull Search incorporates the most up to date data derived from the rapid advances in genetic research.
The tool is fully adaptable to the majority of devices including mobile phone, tablet or computer. Data can be easily exported by email and print and sire information can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. It is anticipated new functionalities and data will be added as the project evolves.
Local ABS representatives can provide further information and guide dairy farmers through the features of this exciting tool. There is also a video tutorial on Youtube at Bull Search Tutorial or http://tinyurl.com/j2yp46z. Send your feedback or questions to ABS.Bullsearch@genusplc.com.
Back to top
ABS focuses on delivering the most advanced genetics to boost ‘rate of genetic gain’
24 August, 2016
ABS Australia today announced a major change to the focus of its business in dairy and beef markets in Australia.
“In future we will focus on our core strength, which is delivering advanced bovine genetic products and technologies, in order to ensure our dairy and beef clients maximise the rate of genetic gain in their herds,” said ABS Australia General Manager, James Smallwood.
“This is the logical next step in a process we have been working towards for a number of years. Genetic gain is where the profitability opportunities are for producers.”
The new business focus will allow ABS to fast-track new products and technologies that are being developed by the global R&D team at ABS Australia's parent company, Genus PLC, to lift the rate of genetic gain on-farm.
“We know dairy farmers, in particular, are going through difficult times, with low milk prices,” Mr Smallwood said. “By making these changes we can focus our activities on developing and delivering genetic products to improve the value they get from their investment in herd improvement - so their breeding programs are not compromised.”
ABS has made a substantial investment in ensuring many of the bulls they bring to Australia rank highly in the Australian BPI system, making them suitable for Australian conditions.
“This investment in matching bulls to the Australian BPI system underlines our commitment to supplying the Australian bovine genetics market,” Mr Smallwood said.
ABS will continue to bring in high ranking TPI bulls from the US, which also have a keen following among Australian producers.
ABS has professional breeding advisors in all major dairy regions and in southern beef districts. These advisors are equipped to guide and support producers in building a breeding program that will achieve their business profit goals.
“The field of bovine genetics is changing rapidly,” said Mr Smallwood. “Understanding these changes and reaping the rewards they promise is critical for beef and dairy producers in such a competitive environment.
“Our customers’ genetic progress and long term profitability are a key focus of ABS. Our advisors are professionally equipped to help producers in developing cost effective breeding programs that meet their breeding goals.”
In recent years ABS Australia's parent company, Genus PLC, has invested heavily in the development of new technologies including:
- the release of GMS2.0, a revamped Genetic Management System, which will be able to work with genomic daughter data, amongst other new features
- the purchase of InVitro Brasil - the world's largest producer of embryos
- delivering gene editing technology to assist in the reduction in counterproductive traits
In the next few years, ABS Australia will be making the products of these investments available to Australian beef and dairy farmers.
As a consequence of this change of business focus, ABS will stop providing on-farm services (AI, freeze branding, de-horning, etc). It is expected these services will be delivered by independent service providers already operating in the market.
Back to top
ABS delivers the pick of genomic sires - again
17 August, 2016
ABS Australia has once again demonstrated it is the leading provider of advanced bovine genetics in Australia with seven of the top 10 available Holstein genomic bulls, and 26 of the top 50, in the August Balanced Performance Index (gBPI).
“Having seven in the top 10 genomic sires in the most recent proof run is a very rewarding outcome for Australian dairy farmers and for ABS,” said ABS national sales manager, Paul Quinlan. “This result demonstrates how our customers can truly profit from genetic progress with ABS. These sires illustrate the overall superior genetic quality, consistency and diversity of the ABS lineup.”
These successful August genomic rankings follow on from ABS having the same number of genomic sires in the top 10 in the April proof run.
“We have been working on a plan to ensure our genomic and proven sires convert exceptionally well to Australian dairy systems as well as performing strongly in the US TPI rankings,” said Paul. “We aim to ensure we consistently offer Australian dairy farmers the very highest quality and the widest possible choice of bulls that will perform exceptionally well in Australian conditions and meet a wide variety of breeding goals.”
The conversion strategy which ABS started three years ago is now beginning to pay off with the first group of ABS genomic bulls expected to receive Australian proofs in April 2017.
The first of these, 29HO16714 De-Su 11236 BALISTO, (daughter pictured left - De-Su Balisto 3487-ET 2 year old) which is due to receive an Australian proof in April 2017, has impressed with his first US daughter proof. He currently boasts the number 1 position on the Type Weighted Index (TWI) at 305. This Elite bull also has an impressive gBPI of 281 and an ASI of 196. As an A2A2 sire he produces moderate sized cows with strength, along with very good calving ease while adding teat length. A four star semen fertility bull further enhances his appeal as a must use proven bull.
Another ABS sire to impress is 29HO18161MR Seagull-Bay SANDAL, which enters the market with an impressive 297 gBPI. SANDAL is an early SILVER son and is the highest ranked son in Australia. He has very good udders, slopes, rumps and very good feet and legs.
Glomar SUPERLUCKY improves on his outstanding number 1 ranking from April, moving to a gBPI of 299. He features outstanding health traits and positive fat and protein components. With four maternal dams still milking in the Glomar herd he offers great daughter survival.
Described by many experts as an international phenomenon, 29HO17500 DG CHARLEY has been acquired by ABS Global and is available in Australia. Charley rose to fame in May 2015 as the number one gTPI bull in the world. He has remained at the top of the genomic sire lists ever since. Charley offers modern Holstein efficiency with his combination of extreme production (+1,976 Milk, +87 Fat, +63 Protein), superior fitness (PL +7.6, SCS 2.65, +2.5 DPR) and moderate frame size.
Charley comes from a particularly strong pedigree, the globally renowned Larcrest Cosmopolitan family. He’s a Supershot son from DG Candide, a Mogul from Larcrest Cale VG-89 (pictured right), followed by Larcrest Crimson EX-93.
“It is rare to find a bull that offers the unique combination of medium size and a flawless profile for feet and legs and udders, as well as outstanding production and great daughter fertility,” said Ryan Starkenburg, ABS Global, Senior Dairy Geneticist. “When a bull has those unique attributes in addition to great calving ability and fantastic SCS, it is easy to understand why Charley’s genetic profile is highly sought after by breeders around the world.”
In the Jersey breed, HARRIS is a gold medal champion. This new US proven graduate excels as the number 1 bull for JPI, Net Merit and Cheese Merit. HARRIS offers the genetic capabilities for increased fat and protein and high fertility in both purebred and crossbreeding programs.
If there was ever a Jersey bull to demonstrate his ability to stay at number 1 it is ELTON. He is turning out to be the Michael Phelps of the Jersey breed and is the number 1 bull again with an imposing 318 BPI.
In August ABS Australia began bringing the top range of Norwegian Red bulls to Australia through a new partnership with Geno, the world leader in Norwegian Red bovine genetics. This arrangement will enable ABS to offer dairy farmers more choices for effective cross breeding and straight breeding using Red genetics.
One Red breed sire to impress in this proof run is REITAN 2, ranked at number two on the BPI. This bull is also the number 1 health weighted sire for the breed. He offers high milk flow, great teat placement, outstanding temperament and high wide rear udders.
Back to top
ABS boosts breeding choices with Norwegian Reds
19 July 2016
ABS Australia will bring the top range of Norwegian Red bulls to Australia in August through a new partnership with Geno, the world leader in Norwegian Red bovine genetics.
Through the partnership with Geno, ABS will offer dairy farmers more choices for effective cross breeding and straight breeding using Red genetics.
“ABS has secured an exclusive distribution agreement with Geno globally,” said ABS Australia’s national sales manager, Paul Quinlan. “We will now be able to supply Australian dairy farmers with the unique genetics of the Norwegian Red breed combined with the very best Holstein and Jersey genetics from ABS.”
Many Australian farmers have used the Norwegian Red breed exclusively as a straight-breed for the past nine years.
“Those dairy farmers who have used the Norwegian Reds have already identified that the breed has extensive Norwegian farmer, veterinarian and industry input and support,” Paul said. “There is over 40 years of data collection available and comprehensive health trait information for breeding selection.
“The breed is ideal for the profit focused farmer whether they want to straight breed or cross-breed.”
GOPOLLEN daughter 240 Ragnhild
with owner Kine Efteland Vølstad
ABS continues to pursue a strategy of providing the market with alternative solutions to maximize their profit from genetic progress.
“ABS’s collaboration with Geno will allow us to distribute Norwegian Red’s world leading genetics and provide even greater value to our customers,” Paul said. “The unique cross-breeding solution will have a strong appeal to our operational and profit partners.
“It will complement our recent investment in IVB, Sexed semen and Genetic Services such as Genetic Audits that specifically focus on maintaining profit from genetic progress.”
Geno adds a unique genetic solution to ABS’s global supply chain that will benefit dairy farmers seeking the special qualities of Red breed genetics.
“The red genetics offer our customers greater choice and the potential to improve hybrid vigour in their herds,” Paul said.
A new brand that demonstrates the benefits of the combined resources of Geno and ABS will be launched in the first half of FY17. The new concept will be rolled out in North America, Great Britain, Italy, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.
Back to top
ABS lends a hand in tight times
23 May, 2016
ABS Australia is offering dairy farmers a deferred payment plan on their purchases of ABS dairy semen to help ensure herd improvement programs are not put at risk while milk prices are low.
“We recognise that recent announcements that the farm-gate milk price will be dropped by major processors are tough for many dairy farmers,” said ABS Australia general manager, James Smallwood. “Dairy farmers know that cutting back on genetics now will put their herd improvement program and long-term profitability at risk.”
ABS Australia will assist dairy farmers to continue to invest in their herd improvement program by offering them a cost effective breeding payment plan.
“The dairy herd is often the second largest asset on a dairy farm and, with the predicted lower milk prices, cashflow will be tight on many farms,” James said. “It will be tempting to cut back on semen purchases.
“I encourage dairy farmers to contact their ABS Australia representative or on-farm genetic service provider to set up a cost effective breeding payment plan for their business.
“We want to do what we can to help dairy farmers to ensure their future genetic progress is maintained.”
Dairy farmers can set up a payment plan by ordering their ABS dairy semen through their local on-farm genetic service provider. They will charge 10% of the purchase price when ordering or when the semen is required. ABS will split the remainder of the bill evenly over the next three months, interest free.
“The payment plan offer extends to all ABS dairy semen lines,” James said.
The best Holstein packages are in ABS' latest dairy sire directory. ABS has an extensive range of other breeds, including Jerseys, some of which come from their partnership with Central Sires Co-op.
“We are happy to provide additional packages on all bull breeds listed in our dairy sire directory on request,” said James. “We are confident our range can assist in all aspects of dairy farmers’ breeding goals.”
Back to top
New appointments expand ABS service in Tasmania and Queensland/NSW
23 May, 2016
New appointments in Tasmania and Queensland continue the strengthening of the ABS Australia team across the nation’s dairying regions.
Peter Daley has been appointed to the position of Key Account Manager for NSW and Queensland. Peter has extensive experience in agri-business and has been involved in the animal feed industry in the Port Macquarie area.
He is from a farming background and is currently involved in both breeding and showing cows. He has also had experience in agricultural journalism. Peter joined the ABS team in early May.
Nev Flay has been appointed to the position of Key Account Manager in Tasmania. Nev has previously worked with LIC and as an AI technician for a season with Handley AB (now trading as ALTA Genetics) in Tasmania.
Back to top
ABS delivers the top 7 available ABVg bulls
April 11 2016
ABS Australia has catapulted into the current genomic BPI rankings with the top seven highest scoring, available genomic Holstein sires.
At number one is the much anticipated Glomar SUPERLUCKY (298 gBPI) with the outstanding number two available sire in Cookiecutter HARPER (287 gBPI).
| Four generations of Lucky cows
Superlucky descends from four generations of Lucky cows that are still milking at Glomar; confirming the reputation of this outstanding cow family that gets in calf and milks for generations.
In all, ABS has 15 new genomic sires in the top BPI rankings. They join ABS’ four high ranking proven Holstein bulls in the Good Bulls Guide. New proven graduate Pen-Col MATCHLESS enters the BPI rankings as a well balanced sire that has good health traits (4-star TR) with great udders.
Together the ABS line up provides choices to suit a wide variety of breeding goals. These sires cover desirable traits including high fertility, pasture based production, BPI and TPI.
“We want to be the very best at maximising customer profitability through genetic progress,” said ABS national sales manager, Paul Quinlan.
ABS is the only company to provide TransitionRight™ sires, which offer a genetic solution to preventing costly transition diseases.
“Dairy farmers who use our five star TransitionRight™ sires can expect to save $100 per cow per lactation,” Paul said.
Elton still the king
Among Jersey breeders Cairnbrae Jaces ELTON is the king and the number one available Australian proven Jersey (BPI 312) with over 4400 daughters.
|Daughters of ELTON - the king
“Elton continues to impress breeders with his outstanding temperament and farmer likeability,” Paul said.
“His strong, deep bodied daughters are built for Australian conditions with their balance of production and good health.”
Araluen Park BANDANNA leads the new Jersey genomic group (279 gBPI) with excellent type and good daughter fertility. He exemplifies the strong partnership ABS has with Central Sires Co-op in making available the best local jersey bulls to Australian breeders.
Highly profitable genetics from elite cow families
No other bull says it better than Deep-Run-Crk Dfr CANYON. This elite genomic sire is from an up and coming cow family. CANYON’s four closest dams are all scored EX with his grand dam and great grand dam at 3E-94 and 2E-94, respectively. A 5-star TransitionRight™ sire he offers excellent daughter fertility and productive life with exceptional udders.
Rosy-Lane SPOCK from the home of Goldbullion offers Australian dairy farmers an exceptional opportunity to continue with the successful Rosy-Lane breeding tradition. With an impressive 2707 gTPI and 216 gBPI Spock transmits plenty of fat kilograms and percentages along with very good rear udders. His progeny should be medium size with outstanding chest width.
“After visiting the Rosy-Lane property last year and seeing firsthand the outstanding strength and chest width of the herd, I believe Spock has everything we saw and has the potential to be a new and improved version of Goldbullion,” Paul said.
Highest daughter fertility bull
The highest daughter fertility bull ABS has ever introduced into Australia is No-Fla MERIT at 119. Along with his high fertility and productive life Merit has a very good BPI at 240 and is a 5-star TransitionRight™ sire.
“Based on his unbelievable numbers, these medium sized cows are expected to last extra lactations over bulls that are just average for daughter fertility,” Paul said. “This is what we're hearing our clients want.”
Rengaw Jardin JANEK moves up the rankings with an impressive boost of 26 BPI points to 264. Janek is an A2A2 sire that improves fat and protein percentages. He is a calving ease sire with excellent cell count numbers.
“These new sires are certain to impress the market and deliver the genetic gains (profitable cows) our customers are seeking,” Paul said.
Back to top
ABS launches the first genetic solution for healthier transition cows
January 28 2016
It grew out of a simple question from an ABS customer: “We already record disease cases, why don’t genetics companies use that data?” he asked.
A straightforward question that led to ABS Global developing the world’s first genetic solution to transition disease problems. The transition period is one of the riskiest and most costly cow health periods facing dairy farmers the world over.
“Every dairy producer globally is faced with challenges of transitioning each female that enters the milking string from non-lactating to efficiently producing enough milk to generate profit,” ABS Global Dairy Brand Manager, Mitch Amundson said at the launch of TransitionRight™ Genetics at International Dairy Week last week. “The easier the female transitions, the more optimistic we are of her future.”
Mr Amundson told an audience of 100 dairy farmers, advisors and industry experts that 75% of disease in dairy cows occurs in the first 30 days in milk with as many as 50% of high producing cows affected.
Breaking the cycle
“While research on the transition period for dairy cattle has been evolving for more than a decade, and involves academia and allied industry, until now there has been little or no focus on the role genetics plays in this.”
“We asked ourselves, “What if this cycle could be broken over time, and the herd’s cows could be pre-disposed to better health during this period?”
The result is TransitionRight, a genetic tool developed by ABS Global, from many years of original research, which uses ABS Real World Data* to identify bulls with greater transition disease resistance traits that can be bred into future progeny.
“We would expect to have about seven fewer daughters out of 100 that had a case of mastitis in first lactation if a five star TransitionRight sire was used in place of a one star sire,” said Mr Amundson.
Current evaluation of progeny performance demonstrates that five star TransitionRight sires create on average $100 in value per cow per lactation through reduced health costs.
Increased risk of disease
A 2010 study on Transition Cow Management by Dairy Australia’s Grains2Milk and InCalf programs described the transition period as being “characterised by greatly increased risk of disease”.
During the first 30 days in milk up to 50% of a herd can be affected by one or more of the common post calving diseases, which include metritis, ketosis and mastitis. The cost per case varies from around $150 to $350 depending on the disease and its severity.
“Up to 10% of a herd can be lost in the two months after calving due to health issues,” Mr Amundson said. Metritis or inflammation of the uterus, often called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), costs on average $350 per cow and an average of 20% of all calving cows are affected.
A preventative approach
“Typically, the transition period has been handled through management: changes to nutrition, vaccinations and physical treatment of the cow when she comes down with one or more of these common transition diseases,” he said. “Now we are able to look at the transition period from a genetic perspective, we can take a preventative approach rather than a reactive one.
“ABS has created a genetic evaluation for transition cows that is truly revolutionary. We are the only company that is able to offer a genetic solution specifically for the transition period.
“Sires that transmit these traits produce progeny with greater resistance to typical transition diseases such as metritis, ketosis and mastitis,” Mr Amundson said. “The result is healthier cows going through the most vulnerable period for health issues and making a good start into their most productive period.”
ABS original research
*ABS Real World Data® comprises more than 22 million records provided by 1500 dairy herds from around the world. The data for the traits of mastitis, metritis and ketosis goes back to the year 2000, providing an analysis of more than 18,000 dairy sires: 60% are other companies’ bulls and 40% ABS bulls, making the rankings very robust and reliable.
ABS Real World Data was used initially to identify bull fertility and is now being put to further good use identifying TransitionRight sires.
Back to top