Much of the interest in the genetic indexes for dairy breeds other than Holstein, launched this week by DairyCo breeding+, focuses on the proofs themselves, with numerous changes in some way affecting all of the breeds.
All breeds undergo a base change in a similar way to the Holsteins which generally pulls figures down and reflects the genetic improvement which has taken place over the past five years. This is detailed in the table below.
Effects of the base change
And for breeders who wish to compare between breeds, this has become possible for the first time.
"We have improved the method of genetic evaluations and made better use of existing UK data," says geneticist Marco Winters, director of DairyCo breeding+. "As a consequence, a breeder considering, say an Ayrshire or a British Friesian will be able to compare the genetic merit of the animals of both breeds against one another.
"However, it's important to note that all breeds are still published on their own breed scale, and therefore direct comparison is not possible. Instead, breeders will need to apply a conversion formula to the figures, and these will be published on our website for anyone interested in making across-breed comparisons."
Further improvement comes as two new breeds - the Brown Swiss and Montbeliarde - get genetic indexes based on UK daughter performance for the very first time.
"We are pleased to have been able to include these two breeds in our calculations as they now have sufficient UK daughter information recorded to make this possible," says Mr Winters.
And finally, the inclusion of fertility within Profitable Lifetime Index (£PLI) for the Ayrshires, Guernseys, Jerseys and Shorthorns (already included for Holsteins and Friesians) has resulted in some re-ranking for these breeds.
For the Jerseys, this means a new number one emerges in the form of DJ Hulk, thanks to solid production combined with positive daughter fertility and lifespan. Number two is Q Impuls, another bull with strong daughter fertility figures. DJ Lirsk manages to make it into the top three this time, transmitting good SCC figures.
The Ayrshire list is headed up by Danish Red bull R Ascona, who, thanks to strong fitness traits, receives a PLI of £167. He is followed by a new entry, the Norwegian Red G Ebdo, while the UK-bred Brieryside Golden Sand now ranks third.
Sem 7 remains the leader in the Friesian list with a PLI of £137. Grietman is now second and the popular UK-bred Lakemead Rancher follows in third place with a PLI of £113 and a good direct Calving Ease (dCE%) figure of +1.4 per cent.
Number one spot in the Guernsey Merit Index (GMI) rankings is shared between UK-bred Beechgroves Cornelius and Coulee Crest Luxury Spider from the USA. Cornelius adds new daughters and receives a Lifespan index of +0.1. Sniders Option Aaron, the former number one, rounds off the top three GMI bulls.
The table below gives a summary of the base changes for the production and fitness traits:
The changes in summary
- The all-breeds evaluation model allows comparisons to be made between breeds. This can only be done with a conversion formula, which will be published by DairyCo breeding+.
- UK genetic analysis for two new breeds - Brown Swiss and Montbeliarde - is introduced.
- Fertility is included in PLI for the coloured breeds (already included for Holsteins and Friesians).
- A base change takes place for all breeds and all traits (production, fitness and type). This is necessary on a five-yearly basis as breeders make genetic progress and has brought most numbers down (see table above).
- Calving Ease indexes are published for the first time for the Holstein and British Friesian breeds.
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