Strength in Numbers

News and Updates
Sire development at Select Sires has always been multi-faceted. We serve a wide range of customers around the world and we continually work to identify the different market desires to adapt our sire development strategy. The backbone of our strategy is future focused – our team often quotes Wayne Gretzky’s “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it’s been.” We heavily consider the future needs of our customers because the matings we create today will be the sires we offer in 2026 and those daughters will enter the milking strings in 2028. This exercise requires a multitude of strategies, some of which may look unconventional at face value, yet others are more recognized as the tried and true methods that have served us well for six decades. Most recently, this future-focused thought process resulted in the development of Select Sires’ Herd Health Profit Dollars® (HHP$®) index.

By: Kevin Jorgensen, Senior Sire Analyst, Select Sires Inc.




In 2023, we genomic tested 7,500 Holstein bull calves. From that group, we combed through the information, considered markets around the world and applied our methodologies to add 250 young sires to the GForce™ and NxGEN® lineups. You can see that the selection pressure is extremely high to offer a wide range of sires to meet market demands. Of those 7,500 calves tested, they were sired by nearly 100 different mating sires and hundreds of different dams in the quest to find diversity, as well as high ranking sires in every selection index. There truly is strength in numbers. 

However, even by employing different methods of sire development, the dominant sires and dams of a generation remain at the top and receive the most interest from customers. This has held true from the earliest days of sire development. The impact sire portraits that Select Sires has commissioned is a testament to that. 7HO58 ELEVATION was the dominant sire of the 1970s, 7HO543 BELL and 7HO980 MARK dominated the 1980s, 7HO1897 BLACKSTAR and 7HO2236 ELTON dominated the 1990s, 7HO5157 Durham and 7HO5375 BW MARSHALL dominated the 2000s, 7HO8081 PLANET, 7HO11314 MOGUL and 7HO11351 SUPERSIRE dominated the 2010s. Now 250HO14134 RENEGADE and 7HO15167 GAMEDAY look to be the dominant sires of the current decade. The same could be said for dominant maternal lines. I mention this to illustrate that even though the genomic era has accelerated the pace of change, some things remain constant in sire development.

Creating opportunities with an expansive lineup

Our sire development strategy is designed to create opportunities and access to genetics from the industry’s dominate sires and dams. In the current GForce and NxGEN lineups, there are nearly 20 different sets of full and maternal brothers from dominant bull mothers. Those sets of siblings have competed through all the rounds of genomic testing and secondary screening by the sire development team. They are the cream that rose to the top. Many of these are from the most famous and influential cows in the breed like current Holstein International Global Cow of the Year, Siemers Lmda Paris 27856-ET (EX-91-EX-MS-GMD-DOM). She is the dam of 7HO15085 PARFECT, 250HO16115 PAZZLE,  7HO15523 PARSLY, 7HO16120 PEVE and 250HO16121 PARTAKE as well as more to come in 2024. Ladys-Manor Alphabt Tuba (VG-86-VG-MS-DOM) has full brothers 7HO16315 TAMBORINE and 14HO16316 TUBA. Additionally, her highest son sired by 14HO16391 EASTON just arrived at Select Sires in January 2024. By offering brothers in our lineups, it provides customers access and flexibility to benefit from the influence of these genetic lines. 

Ladys-Manor Alphabt Tuba (VG-86-VG-MS-DOM)

Leveraging cow families and technology

One question we hear often is about the strength of cow families and if that has less importance to our sire development mission. Our answer, “Nothing could be farther from the truth.” There are currently 104 sires in the program with dams scored Excellent (90) or higher and 408 sires with dams scored Very Good. Many of those will earn a higher classification score as they age. There are hundreds of sires in our program with 13 or 14 generations of Very Good or Excellent dams. 

While cow families remain front and center in our sire development strategy, Select Sires leverages the latest reproductive technologies to drive our program into the future and create sires the markets demand. These technologies lower the age of donors and some sires are released or used as sire fathers before the dam has completed her first lactation or has been classified. The vast majority develop into great cows, it just takes a bit of time for the data to catch up. It’s also worth mentioning that most of our bull dams live in real-world commercial operations and there are instances in which dams are lost before we are able to collect the data we desire. In these cases, we lean on the strength of the maternal line for the confidence that those sires will deliver the results our customers expect.

Sire development certainly has evolved since many of us entered the A.I. industry decades ago. As a Holstein sire development team, we have nearly 150 years of combined industry experience. New technologies have changed some of the methodology we use to create great sires but the founding principles have not changed; persistence, be diverse, work with great breeders, and never be afraid to take chances. To meet the distinct needs of our customers around the world, it boils down to strength in numbers! 


Back to Articles