Just one year ago, the top genomic Holstein bull marketed by the artificial insemination (A.I.) industry to dairy breeders stood at $1,105 Cheese Merit (CM$). This December, the high watermark was $1,233 $CM. That was a $128 gain for Cheese Merit. That same bull also broke through the 3000 ceiling for Total Performance Index or TPI.

Overall, the range for the top 50 genomic Holstein young bulls climbed to a $1,233-to-$1,060 range in Cheese Merit compared to the $1,105-to-$1,021 range in December 2018. One of the drivers for this significant shift has been stepped up selection for higher components based on greater consumer demand for butterfat and greater pay prices in dairy farmers’ milk checks.

This unfolding trend was just one the many changes in the December 2019 Hoard’s Dairyman Bull List. Data to create the list was compiled by the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding.

More progress in Holsteins

When looking at other top Holstein lists, a similar situation to Cheese Merit was also revealed when comparing genetics to just one year ago:

  • Net Merit: The top genomic bull climbed from $1,075 to $1,187 NM$.
  • Net Merit: The range in the top 50 NM$ list expanded to $1,187 to $1,025 NM$. (December 2018 was $1,075 to $991)
  • TPI: The range in the top 50 list grew to an impressive 3000 to 2845 TPI points. (December 2018 was 2944 to 2852)

Most breeds show genetic expansion, too

Young bulls continue to drive A.I. semen sales as dairy farmers across the country and around the world vote with their pocketbooks. In December 2019, 73 percent of all bulls declared active by A.I. studs were genomic young bulls without milking daughters. This “market share” number was down 2 percentage points from August and represents the first slippage in the metric.

As for breed-specific changes among genomic young bulls from April to December 2019:

  • Red and White Holstein: The top Cheese Merit bull stands at $914 and had been $830 last December. The new top five range is $914 to $852 (December was $830 to $796).
  • Ayrshire: The top Cheese Merit bull stands at $704; it had been $614 last December. The new top five range is $704 to $613 (December was $614 to $544).
  • Jersey: The top Cheese Merit bull stands at $699, up from $679 last December. The new top 25 range has retreated slightly to $699 to $642 (December was $679 to $631).
  • Brown Swiss: The top Cheese Merit bull stands at $633 and had been $557 last December. The new top five range is $633 to $508 (December was $557 to $438).
  • Guernsey: The top Cheese Merit bull stands at $407; it was $382 last December. The new top five range is $407 to $318 (December was $391 to $265).

The evolving bull list

The December 2019 Hoard’s Dairyman Bull List reflects sire selection’s ongoing evolution. With the wheels of genetic progress spinning faster than ever, the entire bull list matches that pace, going to the printing press less than 24 hours after information arrives in our office. Likewise, electronic distribution occurs before the presses are even done rolling.


This August, 4,548 bulls were declared active by A.I. organizations . . . but only 1,225 of those bulls had milking daughters. When everything is considered, bulls with genomic-only predictions hold a 73 percent market share. That’s a new watermark and one that surely will be eclipsed again.

Holsteins, Jerseys, and Red and White Holsteins account for over 98 percent of all U.S. semen sales, according to NAAB data. That’s why those breeds garner the greatest space in the bull list.

Rankings not only include Net Merit and Cheese Merit, but Holsteins are ranked by Total Performance Index (TPI) and Sire Calving Ease as well. Jerseys also have been listed by Jersey Performance Index (JPI). Anchored by our roots when we published the industry’s first A.I. ranking in 1968 based on a positive Predicted Difference for Milk, all bulls featured on the top 25 lists for udder and feet and legs must be in the top 40th percentile for Net Merit.

In a world where information is available in an instant, this A.I. sire comparison remains one of the few objective ways to view all your sire options side-by-side from all competing A.I. centers.

December 2019 Hoard's Dairyman Bull List

Top 50 Genomic Holstein Net Merit $, Cheese Merit $, and TPI
Top 50 Daughter Proven Holstein Net Merit $, Cheese Merit $, and TPI
Top 25 Holstein Genomic and Daughter Proven Udders, Feet and Legs, and DPR
Top 25 Holstein SCE and Jersey CM$ and JPI
Top Colored Breeds

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