In a bid to help breeders identify the best performing cattle and help develop the breed for the future, the Welsh Black Cattle Society has secured HCC funding for a number of projects.
The grant funding will enable the Society to adopt the ABRI Breedplan Herd Performance Monitoring programme. Uniquely, however, the Society will also be incorporating Linear Assessments and Linear Measurements into the programme.
A field officer will score cows for feet, legs and udder and teats. An American concept of body measurements to identify balanced cows will contribute the remainder of the BodySUM index.
The Welsh black cattle society’s Chairman, Mr Bob Williams said : “as a Suckler breed we must strive to take the middle road and retain the balance between the breeds milk producing attributes and beefing qualities. Future farmers will demand easily managed cows – easy calving with quick growing calves that require no supervision in terms of suckling supervision. By also focusing on mobility traits we can also enhance the breeds longevity and hence profitability
Coupling these linear assessments and performance recording will help us achieve a balanced approach to breeding, to produce honest and profitable cows.”
A secondary project see’s the establishment of a Bull Evaluation Centre in conjunction with IBERS at Gogerddan. Here a dozen bull calves from cows with superior BodySUM indexes will be Performance recorded for each of the next three years. Free semen will be distributed from one bull calf amongst participating herds to establish an across breed reference sire thus making future identification of superior genetics easier.
“We hope that this innovative approach to collaborative breed improvement will demonstrate our intent to remain commercially focused thus retaining our market leading position” said Mr Bob Williams.
The project has evolved from a breeders discussion group set up by Menter a Busnes as part of the ‘Cyswllt Amaeth’ project in Ceredigion which has received funding through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 which is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development. It will be featured at the Breeds First National Show being held in conjunction with Talybont Show on the 28th of August, 2010.