Next Generation study gauges the value of selecting for EBI
The much anticipated Next Generation Herd study recently established at Teagasc Moore-park is finally under way.
The herd, which was set up last year with the purchase of heifers from across the country, comprises just over 160 first lactation Holstein-Friesian cows and almost 50 maiden heifers.
Most of the cows have calved by now. The research study aims to assess the value of selecting for EBI by measuring the cows' performance. For this reason the herd comprises heifers of elite EBI genetics and heifers representative of the national average of animals born in 2011.
Two thirds of the animals, therefore, have an average EBI of €232, putting them firmly inside the top 1pc in the country. The remaining third are those representative of national average – known as control heifers.
These have an EBI of €120. Their average EBI is just higher than the average of heifers born in 2011. All heifers were genomically tested prior to purchase and underwent a most stringent disease-testing regime prior to purchase.
The cows will shortly be randomly assigned across three seasonal grass-based management systems reflecting efficient futuristic seasonal production.
As well as striving to maximise the EBI within the elite herd, the staff at Moorepark are very anxious to maintain genetic diversity.
To ensure the proper disentanglement of sire line effects from EBI effects, it is necessary for the herd to be representative of a wide range of unrelated sires.