English suckler herds will be able to take advantage of four
new Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) together with a special
Maternal Value index in their bull and cow selection from this
autumn. This will help producers to breed the most cost efficient
herd replacements as well as stock for finishing, reveals the
English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX).
These new breeding tools have been developed from extensive
research conducted by MLC, SAC, Defra and SEERAD that identifies
cow size, age at first calving, reproductive success and replacement
rate as the major maternal factors contributing to UK beef profitability.
The new maternal Estimated Breeding Values becoming available
for all beef breeds recorded by MLC’s Signet Breeding Services
are Longevity, Age at First Calving, Calving Interval and Maternal
Longevity (in years) predicts the length of a cow’s breeding
life or the breeding life of a bull’s female offspring.
In the same way, Age at First Calving (days) predicts the ability
of female offspring to first calve at a young age, given the
opportunity. Calving Interval (days) predicts reproductive success,
highlighting female offspring that will get back in calf more
quickly. Finally, Maternal Calving Ease (%) predicts the ease
with which female offspring will calve, indicating animals with
a greater potential for more unassisted calvings. This EBV should
not be confused with the existing Calving Ease EBV which predicts
the ease with which a bull’s progeny will be born.
The four new EBVs can be employed individually to better inform
bull or cow selection. They can also be used, together with the
existing 200-Day Milk (kg) EBV, to select stock on the basis
of their overall Maternal Value – a new index, calculated
from the relative economic weightings of the component EBVs,
which ranks animals for the overall value of their maternal characteristics.
The Maternal Value index has been designed to complement the
existing Beef Value and Calving Value indexes, allowing producers to
focus their breeding on the most important characteristics for
their own specific herd needs.
As Cow Weight EBVs (kg) become available on a breed-by breed
basis as an indicator of the mature size of cows, they will be
used in a Maintenance Value index to assist in the selection
of stock with a lower feed cost in relation to their size. This
index will then be combined with the Maternal, Beef and Calving
Values in an over-arching Production Value index, ranking animals
for their overall predicted economic improvement ability.
As a measure of the financial benefit of these additional EBVs,
the difference between selecting a bull to breed replacement
heifers on the basis of Production Value rather than existing
Beef Value alone is calculated to be worth up to an additional £42/cow
mated (source: MLC Signet).
Producers wanting further information on EBVs should contact
MLC Signet on 01908 844207
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