17 January 1996

EBVs and AIseen as a base for future of beef breeding

ESTIMATED breeding values and AI should form the basis for future beef breeding.

Genus resources manager Angela Christison said that too much time was spent debating which breeds were best when trait differences were far greater between sires than between breeds.

"In the future producers should be looking for the required traits in individual sires regardless of the breed," she told conference delegates.

"But a conflict of interests arises because dairy producers look for ease of calving rather than carcass traits becasue progeny are sold on at two to three months old," she said.

"The beef finisher must work with the dairy man on choice of sire.

"Suckler producers stand to gain most by using EBVs because of the information available on progeny performance in later life. An increase in margins of up to £50 a cow could be achieved from reduced calving difficulties and increased carcass values," said Mrs Christison.

But she reported a reluctance to use AI because of the impracticalities of heat detection and insemination in cattle at pasture.

At Genus Warren Farm demonstration unit heat synchronisation using Crestar or CIDR implants prior to insemination has overcome these difficulties.

"The total cost varies depending on how many animals are treated and which sire is used – but is about £18 to £30 a cow," she said.

Results from Warren Farm showed 65% in calf after first insemination, 81% after second insemination and 95% after seven weeks.

As well as choice of sire, Mrs Christison said that synchronisation helped to tighten calving patterns and enabled batching of calves which were easier to manage and sell in uniform groups.

However, she warned that it was vital to have an experienced vet to carry out the implantation, the right handling system and cows in presented in the right condition.


&#8226 Select on EBVs and use AI.

&#8226 Could lift margins by £50.

&#8226 Heat synchronisation tightens calving pattern.