Genetic gains reflected in changes to Good Bulls criteria

Aug 14, 2023

AUSTRALIA’S offering of good dairy bulls is now even better.

And this improvement in the way DataGene classifies bulls is set to ensure long-term genetic development for the local dairy industry.

DataGene, the independent and industry owned organisation responsible for driving genetic gain and herd improvement in the Australian dairy industry, has updated the criteria for Holstein bulls to attain Good Bulls status.

From this month, if a Holstein bull features in the Good Bulls Guide farmers and breeders can guarantee that it is more than the breed average for the Balanced Performance Index (BPI).

Improvement: Australian average Holstein genetic progress.

In 2022, 76 per cent of recorded calves were sired by a bull from the 2021 Good Bulls Guide.

DataGene Stakeholder Relations Specialist Peter Thurn said this change shrinks the offering of Good Bulls to about 800 Holsteins and a total of 1100 across all dairy breeds.

“With this update, the bottom-end of the criteria has lifted, and this has improved the average quality of the bulls that are labelled Good Bulls,” he said.

“Since the introduction of genomics, there have been more bulls available than ever. Raising the bar – or the standard of what is called a Good Bull – ensures it is clear which bulls are the best and there’s no need to filter through huge numbers of sires.”

Mr Thurn said most dairy farmers choose up to seven bulls for breeding which means there’s still plenty available with the slightly reduced offering.

The improvement in the Good Bulls baseline reflects the genetic progress made throughout the Australian dairy industry thanks to herd improvement tools such as genomics.

For example, the average BPI of Australian Holstein cows has risen by about 233 per cent from 2011 to 2022.

“Australian dairy has made some phenomenal progress with its genetic base, we have some great locally bred bulls as well as access to the best bulls from across the globe,” Mr Thurn said.

“It’s important to not only reflect this improvement but also put a criterion in place to ensure we can build on this.”

For more information contact: DataGene 1800 841 848 or or

DataGene is an initiative of Dairy Australia and the herd improvement industry.