More, better bulls for dairy farmers (April 2017)

This week’s release of Australian Breeding Values (ABVs) by DataGene has highlighted a trend thatGenomic testing of bulls has seen more, young Holstein bulls of high quality coming through the ranks over the past year.

The April ABV release will be the first published by DataGene, having taken on the genetic evaluation roles performed by the Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme (ADHIS) over the past 30 years.

DataGene Genetic Evaluation manager, Michelle Axford, said there were notable increases in the genetic merit of the top Holstein young bulls (see table).

This time last year there were no young, genomic Holstein bulls with a Balanced Performance Index – BPI – above 300 in the Good Bulls Guide. Now there are more than 25. In fact, the average BPI of the top 50 young bulls is now over 300, representing a more than 20% increase over the past year. Also, there is a wider range of bull companies represented by the top 10 Holstein bulls, going up from two last April to five in this release. 

“That’s great news for Australian dairy farmers. Having access to more, better, young bulls means more choice. And by always choosing bulls that carry the Good Bulls logo, dairy farmers can be confident their breeding choices will contribute to an overall improvement in their herd’s genetic merit for profit,” she said.

The past three years has also seen a steady increase in the number of Holstein bulls genomically tested (see graph).

Mrs Axford said that while DataGene had taken on the role of genetic evaluation and broader herd improvement roles, ABV releases were very much a case of ‘business as usual’.

“DataGene has some major projects on the go, including the development of the much-awaited centralised data repository, but the industry can be assured that the routine ABV releases continue as normal,” she said.

DataGene is an initiative of Dairy Australia and the herd improvement industry.

Genetic merit summary of young Holstein dairy bulls in the Good Bulls Guide over the past four proof releases (based on genomic results)

ABV release

April 2016

August 2016

December 2016

April 2017


Young bulls >300 BPI(g)*





Average BPI(g) for top 50 young, bulls





Companies with young, genomic bulls in top 10





* BPI stands for Balanced Performance Index, an economic index of genetic merit that blends profit, type and health traits for maximum profit.

For more information contact: Peter Williams, DataGene field services 03 9032 7191 or