Cash in on better stock
Improved genetics aids competitiveness and boosts returns
Published 23/03/2010 | 05:00
Within whatever economic or market environment we operate in the beef business, breed improvement is one of the principal ways of maintaining competitiveness.
Genetic improvement is permanent and cumulative from one generation to the next, as long as there are clear breeding goals and reliable information on the breeding values of breeding stock.
The terms 'breeding value' and 'reliability' have specific meanings in relation to breed improvement. An animal with a high breeding value denotes the ability of that animal to produce high-performance progeny for specific traits. For example, if we take a trait such as growth rate, a bull may himself have a high-recorded growth rate but a low breeding value for growth rate, as determined by the inferior growth rate of his progeny.
Figures on breeding values, such as growth rate, weanling quality, calving difficulty, etc, should always be assessed along with the figure for reliability. This indicates how much confidence we can place in the breeding values for certain traits.
Reliability ranges from 0 to 100pc. A reliability of 80pc or higher is excellent and, in that case, we can expect a bull to breed true to form and do what is predicted by his €urostar index in passing on his true breeding value to his progeny.
Breeding values with a reliability of less than 40pc should be treated with a lot of caution. These may give an indication of the potential of the breeding animal but are likely to change as more information on the animal becomes available.
Beef breeding animals (male or female) are evaluated on the breeding values of the economically important traits by means of the €urostar Profit Index.