22 May 1998

Breeding ideals

SIRE selection is based on 13 type traits and eight management traits for the GMS service run in the UK by ABS Progen.

The firms Mark Roberts says all breeding options for type and production are customer controlled. "The programme is not based on corrective mating, but breeding the ideal cow by looking at all the traits involved."

A trained adviser evaluates cows in the herd for 13 type traits and eight other traits considered important for management, such as long pasterns.

Cows are ranked by the computer, so the bottom 25% could be mated to a beef bull, for example. The ranking can also help select cows for culling.

Bulls are selected on a minimum reliability and no bull is put to more than 25% of the herd. Bulls of lower reliability will be mated to a smaller proportion of the herd, he adds. ABC says that full pedigrees of over 150,000 bulls are included on its database, to avoid inbreeding.

When semen is in short supply, the bull in question is mated to the highest merit cows – based on age and performance – first.

GMS can help control semen costs, and will use up semen in store, says Mr Roberts. But first and second choice matings will be ABS supplied bulls, with opposition bulls third, which can be any bull in the world.

Maiden heifers can also be mated using the programme by evaluating their body and udder traits from parents, adds Mr Roberts. ABS charges £2 a cow for GMS. &#42

Mark Roberts… The programme is not based on corrective mating, but breeding the ideal cow.