10 May 1996

EBVs can help pick right bull for the job

PRODUCERS breeding replacement heifers should make use of EBVs when considering buying in bulls.

So said MLCs beef strategy manager Chris Brown at the open day in Hertfordshire. "EBVs provide an indication of a bulls performance. Data on the bulls birthweight, growth rates, fat measurements and an accuracy figure drawn from the performance of the bulls progeny, should be used to select a bull for specific performance traits," said Dr Brown.

He said a number of options existed for producers considering closed herds and reducing risks of bringing in disease. "Beef producers could consider closer links with dairy farmers, with contracts stipulating beef bulls to be used. By buying from fewer and known sources disease risks could be reduced. The producer would also have guaranteed supplies of calves.

"Alternatively the suckler producer could retain heifers resulting from crossing of a beef sire and a dairy/beef crossbred cow. This would increase the calfs conformation by increasing the proportion of beef blood in the cows and a measure of hybrid vigour would be retained," he said.

"With pure breeding, the herd is self-contained except for the purchase of sires. As the level of beef breeding increases, calf conformation should improve. Beef sires continue to be used on the suckler cows reducing the dairy proportion in the herd.

But Dr Brown warned that this system could lead to reduced cow fertility and increased cow size, which would lead to higher maintenance feeding. &#42

MLC beef manager Chris Brown: "Consider closer links with dairy farmers, stipulating beef bulls to be used."