Relaunched PLI to focus on fitness traits

Initially introduced in 1999, the UK’s Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI) is to be relaunched in August, shifting its focus from production to fitness traits.

Speaking at the launch of the PLI at this week’s Royal Show, MDC Breeding+ director Marco Winters said the new PLI would change from its 60% focus on production traits to just 45%, with a weighting of 55% to be on fitness traits such as locomotion, udder composition, lifespan, somatic cell count and fertility.

After a six-month project undertaken by the SAC alongside MDC Research, the updated and enhanced national ranking draws on assumptions that have been reviewed in consultation with the Genetics Consultation Group, said Lucy Andrews of Holstein UK.

Functional type traits such as locomotion, legs and feet, mammary and fertility all featured high on the list of producer priorities, all of which feature with more weighting on in the index.

“We wanted the new index to be a true reflection of what the industry actually wants to achieve through breeding.

“The Genetics Consultation Group brings together breed societies, milk recording organisations, the AI and milk processing industries and practical farmers,” said Miss Andrews.

PLI - Cow 2

Among the new breeding rankings, there will be a value attributed to the total lifetime profitability of offspring, achieved by multiplying the new PLI by the average lifespan, developing a true PLI figure.

The index is supported by the RSPCA for its potential to provide tangible benefits to health and welfare of the dairy sector, and retailers have hinted at future payment benefits aligned to particular trait selection in an aim to make the industry more sustainable.