The Information You Need to Make an Impact With Cow Livability


By Michael Schmitt

Posted Monday, August 29, 2016

The August genetic evaluations brought the first release of the new CDCB trait called Cow Livability (LIV), which was covered in our last article. To take the next step in selecting for these genetics, we will outline some of the sires that will make noticeable differences in your herd for LIV. 

Drawing from Experience
Historical lessons in the dairy genetics world are the easiest to relate to because of the first-hand experiences with their daughters. Below are some standout Accelerated Genetics sires that are known to have long-lasting, trouble-free daughters and, as expected, excel in LIV. This trait is .70 correlated with Productive Life so many of these bulls excel in both of these longevity measurements. 

LIV expresses mortality differences as a percentage of all cows leaving the herd. Comparing Nifty and Potter, the difference in their LIV values is 3.2. This indicates that Nifty will have 3.2% more daughters expected to remain alive during their milking life than daughters from Potter.

Measures of Reliability
Genomic young sires without LIV observations have an average reliability of 63% and it will take more time for the reliability for this trait to increase than production traits, for example. Because each lactation the cow remains alive or dies is considered an observation, daughters are added to a bull’s proof much slower. In the table below, Dugout and Fame have over 150 milking daughters and are high reliability production trait sires. In contrast, when looking at the daughters observed for LIV, there is only a handful. However, through genomic testing, the reliability is undeniably high enough to consider this trait to be impactful despite the slow addition of daughters.  

A Frame of Reference
As a reminder from our last article explaining the LIV trait, this trait is reset to “0” at the most recent base change similar to other traits. Therefore, a positive number indicates a LIV value greater than the breed baseline and a negative value indicates a Cow Livability value below the breed baseline. The Cow Livability trait range among active Holstein sires in the industry is from +7.3 to -6.2.  

Below are a few superior sires offered by Accelerated Genetics that excel in this trait. In fact, 014HO07471 Terrific, 014HO07525 Jax-P*RC, and 014HO07000 Dugout are all among the top 10 active Holstein bulls for LIV.

The economic value of a cull cow is important to all dairy operations. Therefore, being able to breed for cows that are genetically more likely to stay alive in the herd rather than die on the farm is a better scenario for both the farmer and the cow.