Charlotte GrayBy Charlotte Gray, LIC sire analyst.

Adjusting to meet market trends allows farmers to capitalise on consumer demand and price fluctuations: Leaning toward, or away from, key traits of the parent breeds is a legitimate business decision for any farmer wanting to specialise. 

But the use of crossbred sires provides farmers with flexibility, which could be considered a key advantage as the industry continues to evolve (aside from food trends that drive prices for protein and fat, markets are also dictated by increasing regulation such as environmental and health and safety considerations).

With an ability to flex in response to emerging markets, farmers with crossbred animals can elect to chase certain traits from the parent breed(s), or strike a fine balance between the two. 

LIC has traditionally excelled in the crossbred space, and it’s pleasing to see this year is no exception. 

In April’s Crossbred Ranking of Active Sires list (RAS list), LIC bulls occupy four of the top-5 spots, eight of the top-10 spots, and 21 of the top-25 spots. 

LIC’s 15-code graduates are outstanding and strengthen the above proposition further. In the parent breeds, 20% of the Jersey RAS list is occupied by LIC 15-codes, 26% of the Holstein-Friesian RAS list is occupied by LIC 15-codes, and a phenomenal 40% of the Crossbred RAS list are LIC 15-code graduates! 

Genetic gain progression is in full swing! 

While RAS list rankings focus on BW, the excellent type being delivered is also a factor worth highlighting. The average capacity and udder overall BVs for these LIC RAS list 15-codes is an impressive 0.4 across the board. 

Flick through LIC’s 2019 Genetics Catalogue and take note of these 15-codes. 

Here’s a sample of my top picks: 

Izabull daughter515058 KAHURANGI IZABULL is the KiwiCross bull of the moment, continuing to occupy the prized number one spot on the crossbred podium at an impressive 261 BW. 

Izabull comes to us from Peter and Debbie Langford’s farm in Karamea. 

His cow family (i.e. his dam and her full sisters and half-sisters) could be described as tanks – they’re the classic crossbred that farmers envisage, with truckloads of strength in a moderate-sized package. 

He packs a milksolid-efficiency punch, together with excellent fertility and somatic cell scores, and possesses the bonus of a short gestation length (-7.3 days). Udder is a strength here, particularly rear udder, 0.77 BV, and udder overall, 0.49 BV. 

515062 DUGGANS GAMEPLAN is another excellent Manzello son who is hot on the heels of Izabull, sitting in second place on the crossbred RAS list at 252 BW. 

Bred by Rick and Jen Duggan from Thames, this A2/A2 sire sure delivers some production with a fat BV of 30kg and 6.1% fat test. Type is an absolute strength for this bull, with an udder overall BV of 0.68 and dairy conformation BV of 0.30. 

515011 LYNSKEYS LIAM is another efficient producer, and what he lacks in stature he absolutely makes up for in capacity with a BV of 0.90! 

Couple the above with his udder overall of 0.59 and outstanding dairy conformation BV of 0.70, and I’m sure farmers would agree he’s an all-rounder. 

He also has an extreme somatic score BV of -0.69 and a fertility BV of more than 3%; if you feel your herd could do with a health or type boost then this bull is surely a must-have in the Alpha order this spring. A true credit to the Lynskey family who bred this fine sire. 

Spot on515068 WOODWARDS SPOT ON is not just the most capacious of the LIC 15-codes on the RAS list, he’s actually the most capacious crossbred bull ever (among the more than 1500 AE-enrolled crossbred sires), with a capacity BV of 1.20. 

If you widen the net across the entire 25,000+ AE-enrolled bulls (across breeds), he’s the fifth-most capacious overall! 

It’s not just about strength, however. With good solids, size, fertility, calving ease, A2/A2, 0.36 overall opinion, and 0.46 udder overall, Richard and Sue Woodward from Te Awamutu would be extremely pleased with this fellow. 

515025 SPEAKES SLIPSTREAM is another bull from Mark and Fiona Speake of Cambridge. While Spot On is king of capacity, Slipstream could be considered king of udders. 

Slipstream is the best-uddered crossbred AE-enrolled bull alive today, with an udder overall of 1.10. 

This bull seemingly has no shortfalls, and absolutely deserves a place in your AB bank this year.