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Stackyard News Apr 2010

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Charolais Makes Calving Ease Genetic Improvement

Charolais breeders have officially bucked the genetic trend and made improvements to ease of calving without sacrificing growth rate, according to the latest report from Breedplan, the breed society’s genetic evaluation system.

Charolais breed society chief executive, David Benson

David Benson

The Calving Ease Direct trait which reflects the direct effect bulls have on the ease with which their calves are born, has improved by 1% during the last two years, according to the latest report from Breedplan, the society’s registration and genetic evaluation system service provider. Furthermore the Charolais breed’s genetic trends for weight traits have consistently continued to increase since 2000, by an average 6kg for 200 day weight and 8kg for 400 day weight.

“These genetic trends reflect just how magnificently breeders are responding to commercial producers’ demand for Charolais bulls that leave calves which are easily calved,” explains breed society chief executive, David Benson. “While most of the major recorded beef breeds are demonstrating a fall in Calving Ease Direct EBV as they focus on improving weight gain, Charolais breeders have reversed the trend and are selecting very carefully among their herds for calving ease, yet at the same time they breeding cattle with continued improvement to weight which go on to leave commercial calves with that unrivalled weight for age with accompanying good conformation.

“Furthermore, commercial producers are taking advantage of that accelerated genetic progress in their selection making decisions and rewarding breeders for their efforts. For example, at the breed society’s official sales in Stirling in February 2010, 56 bulls with a Calving Ease Direct EBV within the breed’s top 10% sold to average £7,079, while those below average for the EBV levelled at £5,850.”

He adds: “In total 98% of Charolais performance recorded bulls are currently reporting a range in the Calving Ease Direct EBVs of between -14.2 and +15.8 which theoretically means there is a 15% difference in calving ease between the top 1% and bottom 1%. However, that does not mean that a bull with a negative Calving Ease Direct EBV is necessarily going to leave calves that are difficult to calve. Trials featuring heifers at the University of Armidale, Australia and carried out by Breedplan’s manager, the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI) concluded that between 80% and 85% of the calf’s birth weight can be influenced by management and nutrition, as well as type of season and damline, leaving only 15% attributed to genetics.”

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British Charolais Cattle Society