LIC | A New Way Forward

A New Way Forward

Greg Hamill
Greg Hamill - Genetics Business Manager

In response to market dynamics and farmer feedback – and in an effort to continuously improve the LIC genetics offering – this year will see a small but important evolution in the way Premier Sires Forward Pack teams are delivered. 

Below, Greg Hamill, LIC genetics manager, provides an overview of the Forward Pack proposition, before explaining a change in how the solution gets delivered in 2016.  

Premier Sires Forward Pack, referred to as LIC’s offering of ‘the best of the best’, combines LIC’s best:

  1. Daughter Proven sires;
  2. Early-proof Spring Bulls, and;
  3. Genomic bulls – selected from two sources: first, their genomic predictions on BW and type traits, and; second, from sire analyst knowledge about the strength of ancestry lines that sit behind the bull (on both paternal and maternal lines).

It’s odds-on that offspring of elite sports couples would possess good eye-hand coordination or turn into better-than-average athletes: It’s no different when LIC sire analysts select bulls for Forward Pack inclusion!

LIC bull acquisition selects from strong ancestry lines in a bid to reduce variation. Put another way, analysts focus on outstanding parents, good heritage, and great genes. However, variation is still expected within genomically-selected sires – frankly, that’s the exciting part of using them. LIC has high expectations for such sires, and there’s always great anticipation within the LIC genetics team that we’re selecting ‘the next Checkpoint’ or ‘the next Beamer’.

When it comes to genomic selection LIC does everything it can to select forward-moving bulls, consistently remaining true to ‘the best of the best’ principal, and with a strong intent to retain a significant differential between Daughter Proven and Forward Pack bulls. The cooperative is guided by best-available scientific data at the time of selections. Nature does however occasionally take unforeseen paths, and LIC therefore remains mindful of a risk that some sires may track backward.

We know farmers that use Forward Pack are generally attempting to fast-track genetic gain for their herd, and value exclusive access to the highest-portion of Daughter Proven bulls. Feedback tells us Forward Pack users are also excited to have access to early-proof Spring Pack bulls which have the added security of a Herd Test and a TOP (traits other than production) inspection; this helps in terms of reliability – typically 80% of these sires make the grade and get marketed the following year. LIC and Forward Pack farmers understand that ‘closing the generation interval’ results in an increased rate of genetic gain; closing the gap is achieved through use of genomically-selected sires.

Though reliability is compromised, on balance the ‘punt’ is seen as a worthwhile risk, given the seven years it would otherwise have taken to gain a proof for the bull. Getting access to hand-picked (genomic) sires from great cow families is simply exciting.

What’s the change?

LIC will this year offer greater flexibility in the way Forward Pack is delivered, aimed at ensuring the early Spring Bulls are fully utilised. Previously, Spring Bulls only got despatched as a ‘day two’ option.

Now, Spring Pack bulls (selected following New Zealand Animal Evaluation’s Traits Other than Production run in October) will go out based on merit within the team. With a 200-strong Sire Proving cohort of graduates expected in October, LIC genetics team is eagerly waiting to see how many bulls will be included in the Spring Pack portion of Forward Pack. 

Offering a greater degree of flexibility with Spring Pack bulls mean we can expect to deliver additional BW advantages for Premier Sires Forward Pack over Premier Sires Daughter Proven. Differentials are anticipated to be 17 BW for both Friesian and KiwiCross, and 10 BW for Jersey (see pages 14-19 for details on potential Premier Sires teams).

Farmers can expect the composition of the Forward Pack team to be approximately 53% Daughter Proven bulls, 35% Spring Pack bulls, and 12% Genomic bulls (calculation is based on what is expected to be delivered over the peak of the season, from 10 October to 20 November).

We trust you’ll enjoy taking full advantage of the new way we’re delivering Forward Pack this year, and the better differentials we expect you’ll obtain.


Article first published in The Bulletin, Autumn 2016 edition. For more stories, see The Bulletin webpage. 

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