A new economic PLI (Profitable Lifetime Index) for dairy cattle will be launched by Dairy Co in August placing greater emphasis on health and fitness.

The emphasis on production has been reduced significantly and will only account for one-third of total traits (26.5%).

For the first time a Spring Calving Index (SCI) will also be launched to cater for spring and block calving herds and grazing systems.

PLI hasn’t been updated since 2007 and the re-launch has been the result of a eight-month review undertaken by the Genetic Advisory Forum (GAF) committee, made of farmers and industry stakeholders.

Additional traits have also been added to the index, including calving ease and maintenance costs.

Announcing the changes on the second day of the British Cattle Breeders Conference yesterday, Dairy Co’s Marco Winters (pictured) said: “Costs on farm are increasing and we really need to tackle these costs and not just production.”

The new traits will focus on milk quality rather than high milk volume, with butterfat and protein weighted at 19.9% and 32.3% respectively.

Mr Winters said it was about “tweaking the index to make it more compatible to meet future demands” and striking the right balance between health and fitness.

He conceded in recent years great strides have already been made towards improving health and fitness traits such as SCC and fertility. However, he said he was hopeful the new PLI would help dairy farmers further capitalize on this further.

“The current PLI has done an excellent job but hopefully the new PLI will do even an even better job,” he added.

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