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Index helps build the national dairy herd


New genetic selection index helps build the national dairy herd

Dairy conversion in New Zealand is beginning to impact on how beef is being produced in New Zealand.

More of New Zealand’s beef is now coming from the dairy sector through beef cross calves, as more and more traditional beef breeding land is converted to dairying uses.

And that presents challenges for dairying to use breeding animals that fit dairying and beef purposes.

Dairy farmers have always had to be careful with the type of bulls they use because of the varying genetic strains in any beef breed.

In response to this, the New Zealand Shorthorn Association, in conjunction with Meat & Wool NZ, has developed a selection index to make it easier to identify shorthorn bulls ideally suitable for dairy mating.

The new Calving Ease- Dairy index takes into account the two main Estimated Breeding Values (EBV’s) of Birthweight (BW) and Gestation length (GL).

EBV’s predict an animal's genetic merit, based on it and its relative’s performance information.

This Calving Ease- Dairy index estimates the genetic differences between animals, in net profitability per cow joined, for a commercial dairy herd using Shorthorn bulls to breed steers and heifers for turning off at 20 months of age.

They reflect the short-term profit generated by a sire through the sale of his progeny and the longer-term profit generated by his daughters, in a self replacing cowherd (where applicable).

There is a strong emphasis on calving ease, while finishing steers at around 520kg live weight (280kg carcass weight) using a pasture-based production system.

This Calving Ease-Dairy Index complements the Shorthorn maternal export index the Association has already developed.

New Zealand farmers have already found that Shorthorn/Friesian cross cattle generally have a good sized frame which allows them to reach good weights, and that shorthorn cattle are always early maturing.

Well grown 15-16 month shorthorn bulls are well capable of handling most dairy herds as long as they are treated with the consideration and stockmanship due to any young bull.

The index has indicated an apparently large numbers of suitably indexed purebred shorthorn bulls available in New Zealand.


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