Genetic Selection for Profit

Developed and launched in 2015, Pro$ is a selection tool that maximizes genetic response for daughter lifetime profitability. Many producers have familiarized themselves with the Pro$ index, and have been successful in implementing it as a tool in their genetic toolbox. Info Holstein May/June 2017.


Average Expected Performance Increased after 3 Generations of Selection in the Herd


Compared to LPI, using Pro$ as a primary selection tool will maximize production and functional traits. If the main goal of an operation is milk sales, using Pro$ as a primary selection index will lead to a highly profitable herd.

Interpretation of PRO$


Daughters of a bull with a Pro$ of 1000 can be expected to generate $1000 more profit to six years of age than daughters of bull with a Pro$ = 0 (an average bull).

Since Pro$ has less of a response for type traits in Holsteins, does this mean type isn’t related to profit?2017-05-24T09:30:44-07:00

No. A certain level of functional type is essential to lifetime profitability. Functional type leads to healthier, more trouble-free, longer-lasting cows. Selection for Pro$ results in a balance of functional type for longevity, health and production traits that optimizes profitability. Conversely, it can be argued that in certain markets, type is more related to profit (for example, a market for genetic sales of high type individuals). In such unique situations, type is more profitable than is reflected in Pro$.

What can I expect if I use one index versus the other?2017-05-24T09:28:24-07:00

Compared to LPI, using Pro$ as your primary selection tool will maximize production yields and the other functional traits (Graph 1). On the other hand, using LPI as your primary selection tool will lead to a herd with exceptional conformation, fat and protein deviations without sacrificing Daughter Fertility or Mastitis Resistance. No matter which index you align yourself with, you can be confident that all of the information that feeds the traits in each index is sourced directly from Canadian dairy farms. Table 1 (see table, right) examines two herds of a similar genetic merit. Herd A decides to select sires exclusively for Pro$ while Herd B chooses to select bulls exclusively based on LPI. After three generations of selection for Pro$, you can expect the daughters resulting from selection in Herd A to produce 256 kg (i.e.: 1744-1488) more than resulting daughters in Herd B. However, you can expect 4% more of the cows in Herd B to be scored Good Plus or better than the cows in Herd A. It is important to note that the results seen in the Graph 1 are only achieved when selection occurs exclusively for each of the indexes. If, for instance, an index like LPI is used as a primary selection tool and then a secondary filter, such as >10 for Conformation is applied, the selection response trend will be altered for all traits.

Is Pro$ only meant for large herds?2017-05-24T09:08:27-07:00

No, Pro$ is definitely not meant just for large herds! Pro$ will be a useful tool for any producer who generates essentially all of their farm revenue from milk sales, despite the herd size.

Is Pro$ just a Canadian version of the US Net Merit (NM$)?2017-05-24T09:09:00-07:00

Pro$ is not a Canadian version of the US Net Merit. Differences between Pro$ and NM$ are numerous, but key ones include:

  • Pro$ uses Canadian economic values (income & expenses) for the calculation of cow profitability
  • Pro$ is expressed in Canadian dollars, NM$ is expressed in US dollars • Pro$ takes Canada’s supply management system into account
  • Pro$ was developed by using regression analysis which considers genetic relationships among traits to determine the contribution that sire evaluations for each trait have in terms of predicting average daughter profit in an objective way. NM$, on the other hand, places relative weights on traits based on economic importance in the US
  • Pro$ includes various traits that are not evaluated in the US, which provides producers the opportunity to make genetic improvement for Mastitis Resistance, Body Condition Score, Milking Speed and Milking Temperament along with the other important functional traits like Herd Life and Daughter Fertility.

Both Pro$ and LPI are calculated and equally supported by CDN. In the US, NM$ is calculated by Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) and TPI is calculated by Holstein USA. Since the two US indexes are calculated and supported by different organizations with varying goals, the indexes can be considered as competing.