The 1000 bull genomes project supports the goal of accelerating the rates of genetic gain in domestic cattle while at the same time considering animal health and welfare by providing the annotated sequence variants and genotypes of key ancestor bulls. In the first phase of the 1000 bull genomes project, we sequenced the whole genomes of 234 cattle to an average of 8.3-fold coverage. This sequencing includes data for 129 individuals from the global Holstein-Friesian population, 43 individuals from the Fleckvieh breed and 15 individuals from the Jersey breed. We identified a total of 28.3 million variants, with an average of 1.44 heterozygous sites per kilobase for each individual. We demonstrate the use of this database in identifying a recessive mutation underlying embryonic death and a dominant mutation underlying lethal chrondrodysplasia. We also performed genome-wide association studies for milk production and curly coat, using imputed sequence variants, and identified variants associated with these traits in cattle.