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Genetic base cow change brings breeding worth back

Monday, 13 June 2016

For immediate release

Genetic base cow change brings breeding worth back

The genetic base cow – the genetic reference point for all dairy cattle in New Zealand – will be updated this month when it will become younger, moving from a 2000 to a 2005-born base cow.

New Zealand Animal Evaluation Limited (NZAEL) manager Jeremy Bryant says the genetic base is updated every five years and will be again on June 19, 2016.

Jeremy says the base cow update reflects genetic progress and prevents the gap between today’s animals and the genetic base becoming too large. This keeps the scale of genetic predictions relevant.

“Every year, there is genetic improvement in the national herd, which leads to each group of heifers coming through having a higher breeding worth (BW) than the cows before them.”

The genetic base update means all animals are compared with a more recent cow population – in this case, the average of a group of well-recorded 2005-born cows.

BW will be scaled back by about $50 as a result of the update. The drop in BW will be identical across all animals and herds.

For example, if an animal or herd has a BW of 0, this indicates that its genetic merit is very similar to the genetic base cow. Equally, an animal with a BW of $150 indicates that the animal has the ability to breed replacements which will be $150 more profitable than the genetic base cow.

Jeremy says farmers should not be concerned that BW drops as a result of the update.

“This does not represent a fall in stock value as the change is identical for all cows, bulls and herds. There is no change in the relative genetic merit of animals.”

For more information on the changes to genetic base cow go to www.dairynz.co.nz/basecow.

ENDS

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