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PGA™ Procedures and Benefits

It Pays Off

Select Sires to you, the dairy producer. Everyone benefits from the variety of young sires selected and the controlled random sampling of each sire.

The first step in sampling is to identify the best prospective bull mothers through intensive pedigree selection and screening of the U.S. Department of Agriculture cow indexes. Using Select's balanced genetic approach to sire development, cows selected then are mated to the best sires to achieve the highest parent averages for type and production performance. The resulting bull calves then enter the PGA system.

"The objective of any successful young-sire program is to identify the true genetic value of the bulls being sampled," says Chuck Sattler, vice president, dairy progeny testing and genetics research. To accomplish this, Select Sires stresses random distribution and random usage of PGA semen.

"Qualified PGA herds are divided by region of the country and level of production with semen from each PGA sire being distributed nationally to all regions and all herd levels. The system also is designed so young sires are used randomly within assigned herds. This results in an unbiased early evaluation."

PGA Herd Qualifications

The PGA is designed to efficiently test and evaluate a large number of sires each year. Accurately evaluating the early daughters of a sire is critical for future satisfaction of the many dairy producers who will use semen from program graduates. Thus, herds enrolling in the PGA are expected to meet and maintain minimum guidelines to achieve program goals, as follows:

  • Maintain herd size of 40 or more identified cows of the breed enrolled to assure an adequate number of herdmates
  • Have average or higher production for the breed in the area in which the herd is located
  • Use semen from PGA sires in a manner that maximizes the number of PGA-sired calves
  • Maintain a good identification program
  • Be enrolled in a milk-recording program from which records are used in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) genetic evaluations and maintain a data collection rating (DCR) of at least 80 percent
  • Submit breeding and calving data to the national evaluations

PGA Sampling Procedures

The key to accurate, early evaluation is to randomly sample each sire throughout the population. Therefore, semen from each PGA sire is distributed to 175 herds across the nation to enable approximately equal usage in all regions and at various production levels. In addition, random usage within a herd is a key to accurate genetic evaluation. PGA herds typically adopt one of three common management approaches to ensure random usage, including using semen to breed:

  • The next cows in heat after semen is received
  • All first-repeat services or
  • All first-calf heifers (those that have calved once).

Milk Recording Requirements

Currently there is an endless combination of testing plans that qualify to be used in USDA genetic evaluations. The requirement for participation in PGA is for herds to maintain a Data Collection Rating (DCR) of at least 70% as calculated by USDA. Typically this means that supervised herds need to test about every other month. For herds using on-farm milk meters and uploading weekly average milk weights to DHI, then quarterly supervised testing with component sampling is acceptable. Owner-sampler herds are required to have monthly recording of milk weights and component testing. In addition, Owner-Sampler herds need:

  • To maintain at least 40 percent of the herd with usable ID
  • Record bulk tank weights on test day
  • Use QCS approved meters

PGA Benefits

In recognition of the contribution PGA herds make to the industry, Select Sires provides the following benefits to active PGA herds:

  • PGA semen at a nominal charge
  • $10 semen certificate for each identified PGA heifer calf that is born within 18 months of her sire's initial semen release. A maximum of five daughters of an individual sire per herd can qualify for this benefit.
  • Up to $50 in semen certificates for each PGA daughter the first time a usable record appears in her sire's USDA Sire Summary through the third summary. The actual value of the certificate will depend on the value of the herd average DCR for milk weights and component testing. $50 for herd DCR of 90 or higher $40 for herd DCR of 80 to 89 $30 for herd DCR less than 80
  • Periodic visits by Select Sires or member staff personnel
  • Some Select Sires' member cooperatives may provide additional benefits in their respective service areas

If you would like more information on becoming a PGA cooperator, please fill out the program request form.

Dtr. photos left-right: Dias & Dias Planet 769-Grade, Ric Rey Million Taffy (VG-85), Landon Farms Alexander 1090-Grade

Program for Genetic Advancement and PGA are trademarks of Select Sires Inc.