Why does AI company use converted figures?
By Sue Rider
SOME dairy breeders are concerned about figures used by AI company Semex to promote its bulls following the February proof run.
Promotional material in a recent leaflet entitled February proof round-up – a Semex newsletter for dairy farmers, February 1998 – gives the top bull on Canadian LPI rankings, Startmore Rudolph, a PIN value of £107 and an ITEM of £114.
These are the bulls converted figures, explains Animal Data Centre geneticist Gordon Swan-son. However, the bull now has sufficient UK daughter records to give him a combined UK proof. This gives the bull a PIN of £90 and an ITEM of £96.
"Now that there is a combined UK proof for the bull, why are they (Semex) still using the converted figures?" asks West Sussex breeder Geoff Spiby, of the Olympian herd.
"Semex should be using the UK combined proof now that it is available," adds Peter Dixon-Smith, the Lyons herd, Leics.
"It is supposed to be more accurate. I accept that for the first time a bull has a combined proof and it may suffer from a records-in-progress effect – whats puzzling me is why in Rudolphs case its having such a marked effect," he says (see below).
Janet Padfield, the Hayleys herd, Essex is less concerned.
"Everyone should abide by the ruling – but this is not that big an issue. Were told that PIN conversions are only accurate to plus or minus £20. If Rudolph is £107 on conversion and his combined UK proof is £90 – Id say thats a high PIN bull. A lot of people are getting too hung up on differences – we cant be that precise,"she says.
According to Roger Smith, chairman of the National Associa-tion of Animal Breeder Services, MAFF regulations prescribe that once a bull has a combined or full UK proof, this is the information that should be used.
"We as an industry have a duty of care to ensure anything we are putting out should not mislead our potential customers."
Semex counters that it has no intention of misleading farmers. "The information we gave out was based on converted figures because that was what was available at the time. We were surprised to find Rudolph had UK daughters in his proof," explains the companys marketing director Peter Arthur.
"We will consider how to redress the situation," he says.
Mr Swanson says that UK proof information was available on request to AI companies at the same time as converted figures.
"The conversions took us two to three days to produce – and were available mid-week beginning Feb 9. I was prepared to give UK proof information to companies for inclusion in their catalogues at the same time," explains Mr Swanson.
Geoff Spiby… why still use converted figures?
Canadian bulls… combined UK proofs are based on limited UK daughter records.
• Use combined UK proof if available
• Beware records in progress effect
• Semex expects combined UK proofs will improve