Opt for sub-indices over full EBI values
"We milk 250 autumn and spring calving pedigree Holstein cows. The bulls that I am using this year are Guarini (GZG, EBI €149), Wyman (PGW, EBI €115), Twist (S1036, EBI €119), Danillo (S1169, EBI €117), McCormack (GJM, EBI €208) and Monamore Electron (MXZ, EBI €193). The last bull is the only one that is a genomically-tested bull.
"Most of these are sons of either Goldwin or Shottle, since these are two bulls that I would rate highly, especially when crossed with Oman dams.
"I don't get hung up on using only very high EBI bulls. We sell a lot of breeding stock here every year and farmers are still as interested in what the animal looks like as her numbers. So I must take confirmation into account and insist that all bulls that we use have positive linear scores for body confirmation, legs and feet and udders.
"In addition, they must have a minimum of +25kg for fat and protein, and the protein lift must be higher than the fat. The bull must also have a positive percentage for protein, be at least +300kg for milk and have a minimum fertility index of €55.
"You'd be surprised how few bulls actually fit these criteria.
"Even though I am using some bulls with EBIs not much higher than €100, we are still finishing up with pretty decent EBIs in the herd.
"And at the end of the day, I can't afford to use bulls on my cows that produce heifers that don't respond to the nut that falls in front of them in the parlour. You need a cow that produces plenty of milk in return for expensive concentrates fed during the winter.
"These bulls with ultra-high EBIs are getting them with their very high fertility indexes. If I needed to calve all my cows in a six-week period in the spring, it would make more sense for me to put more emphasis on these types of bulls.
"Despite this, I don't think there would be any advantage for autumn calving herds to have a modified EBI index. It would be more confusing than anything."
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