Changes to beef and sheep fat depth breeding values

The way Fat Depth Estimated Breeding Value (EBV) is represented on Signet breeding charts is changing to help farmers select livestock with the right genetic potential for fatness or leanness.

Leaner animals are currently reported as above average or superior on the charts. However, producers recognise that, in practice, they require livestock with an optimum level of fatness to suit the breed and farming system.

The change will see genetically fatter animals with their Fat Depth EBVs presented in the same direction as those that are genetically heavier and better muscled. Feedback from producers is that they see this change as logical, with “more fat” being presented on the same side of the chart as “more growth”, “more muscle” and “more milk”.

Signet Breeding Services manager Sam Boon said: “Breeding charts are an important reference point for producers looking to purchase high genetic merit bulls and rams, so it’s essential that the information is communicated as clearly as possible.

“However, it’s important to state the change in presentation of the Fat Depth EBV doesn’t mean that genetically fatter animals are necessarily more desirable. Producers should select breeding stock with the optimum Fat Depth EBV to ensure maximum returns for their enterprise – this will vary from farm to farm and breed to breed.”

The change to the presentation of the sheep Fat Depth EBV has already been made, while the cattle Fat Depth EBV will be changed at the beginning of April. The Breeding Indexes produced by Signet are not affected by this change.