Credibility of EBI ratings gets boost on Hyland farm walk
Two farm walks with a difference took place last week. These were the ACCBank EBI €100 open days in Laois and Cork. I rambled across to the Laois event at Padraig Hyland's in Ballacolla.
The difference was that the farm-walk content was about dairy discussion group performance and dynamics. The farmers themselves fronted the information stands, presented the arguments and results on breeding, on grassland management, etc.
In contrast to the normal Teagasc farm walk, where speakers can take time to build up to the point, the farmers presented short, sharp messages. If the message needed back-up figures, these were also available on charts and display boards. If things got really sticky, there was a Teagasc expert hovering in the background.
Padraig Hyland is a member of the 22-strong Damer dairy discussion group. This group had jointly won the ACCBank EBI €100 competition last year, along with the Crookstown group in Cork.
EBI stands for Economic Breeding Index, which predicts the genetic merit of dairy cattle in euro. The index has evolved during the past decade and initially created controversy in the high weighing attributed to cow fertility rather than milk yield.
The core message from the Damer group open day was that EBI is working. Farmers can be confident that EBI is an accurate predictor of the profit potential of dairy bulls and dairy cows.
The Damer group looked at EBI versus actual performance in the group's own cows, which calved for the first time between 2004 and 2007. The results, shown in table one (bottom left), returned a very high correlation between high EBI and good performance. Most significant was that, after three lactations, 91pc of the high EBI cows survived in the herd compared to only 52pc of the low EBI cows.