Pat Donnellan, ICBF talks through the ICBF Dairy Active Bull List for Spring 2020.

Guide to reading the Table.

  • Bull Details; Rank, AI Code, Bull Name, Sire, Breed, Status in Herdbook & Holstein %.

Ped; Full Pedigree Registered animal. SRM; Supplementary registered male in the IHFA Herdbook. Male progeny of these bulls will also be supplementary registered ‘SRM’. Female progeny will be given the ‘ASR’ registration status. An ‘XSR’ or blank status field indicates that the bull has no pedigree registration status.

  • GI: This indicates whether the bull was progeny tested through the ICBF Gene Ireland progeny test program or not.
  • EBI Details; EBI, Economic Breeding Index (€); Indicates the profit/lactation expected for a bull’s progeny compared to an average animal. Rel%; Reliability of EBI proof. This indicates the level of confidence that someone can have in the proof. The higher this value, the more reliable the proof. Proof; The status of the Bull proof.

  • EBI Sub Indices; Milk, Fertility, Calving, Beef, Maintenance, Management & Health; Sub Indices of the overall EBI. Added together these give the overall EBI figure.
  • Key Profit Traits; M Kg Predicted Difference (PD) for milk yield. If the average ‘Milk Kgs’ of the team of Bulls being used is greater than the average ‘Milk Kgs’ of the cows they are being mated to, then the average milk yield of the herd will increase. Positive values for F Kg (Fat Kg), P Kg (Protein Kg), F % (Fat %), P % (Protein %) will also increase each of the constituent traits in the same manner. CI = Calving Interval (Days). Bulls with negative values for CI will reduce calving interval. SU = Survival %. Bulls with positive values will increase survival (longevity/productive life).
  • Milking Time: This gives an indication as whether daughters of a Bull are slow or quick to milk. Negative values are desired – indicating that daughters take less time to be milked. Milking time is measured in seconds per milking. It is important to note that milking time has been adjusted for milk yield, so it’s not penalizing bulls with high volumes of milk.
  • Calving Difficulty Details: This is the first Active Bull List with the new Calving indices.

Risk of Dairy Heifer CDiff: This is either ‘Low’, ‘Moderate’ or ‘High’ and indicates the level of risk associated with calving difficulty when used on dairy heifers. It combines the PTA and the reliability.

Dairy Heifer CD% & Dairy Cow CD%: This shows the calving difficulty % figure expected for the bull when used on dairy heifers and dairy cows. Reliability % figures are also shown.

Dairy Calv Recs: This shows the number of actual calves sired by each bull that were born in Ireland out of dairy animals and with calving survey records included in evaluations.

  • Semen Details; Price, availability and supplier details of each bull are also included. These details are updated by each AI Organisation for their own bulls.

Active Bull List – Spring 2020


The EBI details of the 75 bulls on the list are based on the March 2020 genetic evaluations computed by ICBF. Semen from all of the Bulls has been indicated as being available by the various AI Companies, hence the term ‘Active’ Bull List.


The criteria for making the list is as follows:

  • EBI reliability greater than or equal to 35%.
  • Calving difficulty reliability greater than or equal to 70% (based on 23% heifer rel% and 77% cow rel%)
  • At least 50 calving records either in Ireland or in the country of origin of the bull.

2020 List – Analysed

2020 is the 20th year that ICBF has published the Spring Active Bull List. This year there are now 67 Irish bred Bulls on the list. This means that nearly 90% of the bulls on our national Dairy Bull list were bred here in Ireland.

This wasn’t always the case. In 2001 there were just 2 Bulls on the list bred here in Ireland. Holland, France, New Zealand & America have generally been where most of the Bulls on the list have come from. This trend started to change around 2009 when the first of the Gene Ireland Irish progeny tested bulls started to come through. Foreign bred bulls this year come from Canada (4), USA (2), Great Britain (1) and New Zealand (1).

This year’s list is made up of 73 Holstein/Friesian Bulls,1 purebred and 1 crossbred Jersey bull.

The 75 Bulls have breeding values for EBI and the 7 Sub-Indices together with trait information on 10 Key Profit Traits. All of the bulls are genotyped and none of them are carriers of genetic defects e.g CVM or BLAD.

The following table shows the trends in the countries of origins for Bulls in the top Bull Lists over the past 20 years.

The 75 Bulls on the list have EBI’s that range from €371 down to €256. 65% (49) of the Bulls on the list came through Gene Ireland. 65 of the bulls are ‘Genomically Selected’ (GS) bulls. 7 of them are daughter proven in Ireland ‘DP-IRL’ and 3 of them are Daughter Proven with foreign daughters ‘DP-INT’.

The Bulls which are ranked highest for each type of proof on the list are listed below: