Reliability And Consistency Key To True Global Impact|
With his combination of great reliability, all-round global appeal and prolific semen production, the US sire Toystory now stands on the threshold of record-breaking status. Angela Rhodes charts his progress and reports from one of his first UK users.
While first crop sire proofs have become more accurate in recent years there are still only a handful of bulls that really prove themselves – once their use becomes widespread - to the extent that they are worth using a second time.
Morningview Toystory Amaya
Sometimes the real stars don’t emerge until their second crop is milking. Perhaps the best example of this was Tesk Holm Valiant Rockie who emerged from the pack to become a very influential second crop sire. The slow burner of the current second crop appears to be US sire Jenny Lou Marshall Toystory who has worked his way up the American TPI rankings to stand beside the likes of Braedale Goldwyn, Picston Shottle and O Bee Manfred Justice as an outstanding high reliability sire.
When he was first proven, Toystory was one of a whole raft of sons by Mar-Thon BW Marshall, and although highly rated and heavily marketed by AI stud CRI he probably didn’t grab the headlines in the same way as some of his paternal brothers. Now, however, with over 20,000 daughters in his international production proof so far, Toystory is the most influential BW Marshall son available worldwide. Many of his top daughters are now being used internationally as bull dams, such has been his impact, and overall demand is the highest it has been yet, with the bull being oversold despite prolific semen production.
His use in commercial herds took off earlier, as by July 2009 - just before he got his early second crop proof and still only 8 years of age - Toystory had already reached the landmark ‘one million straws produced and sold’. He is now gunning for the long held semen production record of Dutch sire, SunnyBoy.
Since last July the number of daughters in his proof has trebled and his figures have improved in every country where he has been used including the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain where he is the No 1 bull on the Spanish rankings.
In the UK his £PLI has improved from 67 to 91 in the last three proof runs in spite of a base change which reduced the index for all bulls by 35 points in January. The bull has also gone from 396kg milk last August to 467kg milk in April in spite of a base change reduction of 140kg. Also, Toystory has the BB Kappa-Casein genotype, which is particularly significant for producers supplying cheese makers for the increased cheese yield that results.
Of the 136 UK daughters classified so far, 34 have classified VG including the first six inspected at the start of his second crop proof. The bull has a very modern linear profile in that he transmits angularity while retaining body depth and rump width - he currently has a Type Merit score of +2.02 and is also just shy of +2.0 on udder composite.
Cornish producer Peter Blake has been using Toystory as one of his main service sires for the last three years and the first heifers will calve into his Whitsand herd this autumn. Mr Blake runs a herd of 220 pedigree Holsteins on his 480 acre unit in Whitsand Bay near Torpoint on the south Cornwall coast. The herd is currently averaging around 10,500 litres on a TMR based system feeding about 3t concentrates a cow and the milk is supplied to local independent processor Trewithen Dairies.
The exclusively home- bred herd was graded up to pedigree status five years ago and Mr Blake considers himself “quite type-minded” when it comes to selecting his AI sires. “Although my main goal is profitable milk production I do enjoy going to local shows so tend to look for bulls that will give me sound functional cows with a bit of size and good udders,” he explains. “I also don’t select specifically for production because I feel if you select for good conformation the yields will follow.” Mr Blake also sells out around 30 milking animals each year so feels it is important to have good type cows that will appeal to his buyers.
Each year Mr Blake prefers to use a small number of bulls heavily so that he can have decent sized groups of heifers by each sire. “This simplifies the breeding decisions when it comes to choosing the next team of bulls but it does mean you have to select reliable bulls that transmit uniform type and also hold their proofs,” he explains. “By doing this we have had bulls that have really stamped their mark on the herd in particular Jocko Besne, Riglio Juror Capri and Picston Shottle, who we are still using now.
” When he first selected Toystory, Mr Blake recalls that he ticked all the boxes as he had good type scores, especially udders, and his daughters also had some slope to the rump which was ideal for the higher pinned cows in the herd.” The bull also has a good Lifespan score of +0.3 and is unusual in that he is a calving ease sire that also transmits good body scores, especially rump width and body capacity, he adds. Being a Bellwood Marshall son, Toystory was also something of an outcross for the herd where Starbuck bloodlines had been used in the past. Toystory himself originates from a large 400-cow commercially run pedigree herd in Wisconsin where his dam Jenny Lou Patron Toyane VG89 clocked up just over 20,000l milk as a four year old.
“Since we first used Toystory, his proof has improved every year and now he has UK daughters milking he has held up very well against the newer bulls, which means he still justifies his place on my sire list for this year,” comments Mr Blake. “We have also found that the bull is very fertile and we tend to use him on the harder breeders.” Mr Blake’s observations are borne out by the bull’s US proof where AI sires are given a sire Conception Rate Index (SCR) which is a measure of the improvement over average conception rate that a bull is likely to deliver. In Toystory’s case his rating of +3.2% is among the best of the breed at the moment.
Alongside Toystory this year, Mr Blake is also using Regancrest Design, Ocean View Zenith, Mr Sam, Lucente and Plain-O Durham Ross. With the first crop of Toystory heifers now in calf Mr Blake is pleased with how uniform they have grown and is particularly pleased that the bull has ‘fixed’ the rumps on the heifers out of higher pinned cows. “At the moment they look like they will make very correct young cows and stay around to make their mark in the herd,” he comments.