2 February 1996

Dont allow milk buyers to alter breeding policy

By Jessica Buss

PRODUCERS faced with a choice of milk buyers should avoid changing their breeding policy to meet the requirements of any one of these, but should aim for more efficient cows.

This was the message from Tom Kelly, director of Genus Management at its Profitable Future in Dairying conference last week at the NAC, Stoneleigh.

He said that TBCs, cell counts, hygiene and general farm appearance will be more important to milk buyers than milk quality. "People will look at where the milk comes from, so get the basics right first."

He acknowledged that PIN values (see table above) are weighted towards protein, so selection using this index has been in favour of milk protein.

But he said evidence in the market is that fat is making a bigger influence. The unwanted fat can be skimmed off and sold giving flexibility to the milk buyer.

Independent Peebles-based breeding consultant Dr John Hinks claims that PIN ignores many important factors that have to be taken into account when choosing a bull.

And now producers are selling to various buyers with varying requirements, there cannot be one index that will suit all.

"PIN fails to provide the answer for most of the farming community," he says. "The index simply reflects the current market values for milk sales. No index can anticipate the milk market 10 or 20 years ahead. Avoid attaching too much importance to any single aspect."

He sees the highest priority as production for it is this that pays the bills. But whoever the milk buyer, he advises taking care over milk compositional quality. Select sires for fat, protein and milk. Then when circumstances allow consider type, longevity and behaviour traits because type heritability is low, breeding for it is a slow and expensive process, he adds.

He warns against allowing milk buyers to dictate individual breeding policies. &#42

Top bulls marketed by UK AI organisations – ranked on ITEM (Jan 96)

BullSupplierRel %Milk kgFat kgFat %Prot kgProt %PIN £ITEM£SemenPrice £

Singing Brook N-B Mascot ET (UK)Genus/AI-(NI)91111629-0.2635-0.0512312760.00

Etazon Labelle (H)Genus/AI-(NI)77112640-0.0734-0.0212912625.00

Delta Cleitus Jabot (H)Genus/AI-(NI)8197835-0.0734+0.0412712338.00

Etazon Meadow (H)Avoncroft7884629-0.0830+0.0411211624.00

Cleiber (G)Topline7589430-0.12300.0011011538.00

Etazon Celsius (H)Genus/AI-(NI)77107229-0.2133-0.0211611533.00

Etazon Lutz (H)Herdwise8199934-0.10320.0011811435.00

Notel (G)Supersires7588432-0.08290.0010911430.00

Evreux Clei (F)Herdwise7397235-0.0930-0.0111111222.50

Maizefield Bellwood (US)Goldstar70133437-0.1633-0.0811411145.00

Dekker Clown (G)Dekker UK74105034-0.1530-0.0410811032.00

Dombinator (F)Supersires73109134-0.1930-0.06110110100.00

Southwind Bell of Bar-Lee (UK)ABS Progen9983630-0.0727+0.0110611030.00

Eastland Cash (H)Supersires/AI(NI)7986734-0.02280.0010810928.00

Havep Marconi (H)Genus 7699422-0.2629-0.0410010822.50

All foreign proofs are converted to UK PTA95 equivalents using the latest Interbull conversions, minimum reliability 65%.

Source: Animal Data Centre

Peter Padfield: "I question why so much emphasis is placed on protein."