NZ’s top-ranking bull demonstrates the value of genomics to our dairy industry

Glen Kaycee Sherlock JG

New Zealand’s number one bull in the Ranking of Active Sires (RAS) shows how genomic testing breeds better bulls faster, says CRV Grass-Fed Genetics Manager, Peter van Elzakker.

Glen Kaycee Sherlock JG, a CRV Jersey bull bred by the Tucker family from Northland, is New Zealand’s top bull across all breeds in the latest RAS.

"Our proven bulls on the RAS are testament to the strength of our breeding programme that uses genomics to deliver superior genetics to New Zealand dairy farmers," says Peter.

“Using a small tissue sample for genomic testing is an increasingly accurate method of predicting the genetic potential of an animal and provides clearer insights.

“It allows us to take a deeper dive into the animal’s DNA and find the genes that are responsible for expression of the known traits within an animal,” says Peter. “Genomics gives us more accurate insights into a bull’s potential at a much younger age.

“Genomic testing super charges our breeding programme by allowing us to make more informed decisions. By selecting bulls with complementary genetic profiles, we can strategically combine desirable traits and minimise the transmission of undesirable genetic factors. That means we can improve the overall quality of the bull’s progeny.”

Sherlock and his sire Walker were bred through a joint venture between CRV and Jersey NZ called JerseyGenome – a programme designed to identify elite yearling heifers using genomic selection and customised matings.

“The Tucker family are long standing participants in the Jersey Genome programme and every season make all replacement heifers available for genomic testing,” says Peter.

Friesian bull Anchor, bred by Robert and Annemarie Bruin of Meander Holsteins, is a high-ranking graduate on the Holstein Friesian list. Both Anchor and his dam are products of Embryo Transfer (ET), another tool CRV uses to increase genetic gain.

“Anchor is very strong in management traits, and very good for type with high udder breeding values, alongside good production, and positive fertility. At 5% for Health and 10% for Efficiency he is a great example of our breeding philosophy,” says Peter.

Crossbred bull Campbell is another newcomer on the RAS. His cow family has been part of CRV’s breeding programme since 2016. Working in partnership with his breeders, Embryo Transfer work has generated multiple progeny to select from in one generation, resulting in increased genetic gain.

“By leveraging our genomics and our strategic partnerships with breeders, CRV has been able to accelerate genetic gain and deliver bulls that excel in breeding cows that are healthy and productive,” says Peter. “Our increased representation on the RAS is further proof our strategy is paying off.”