New breeding briefs launched

DairyCo’s Breeding briefs, a guide to genetic indexes in dairy cattle has been launched. It identifies the tools of genetic improvement, so farmers can make better breeding decisions. The guide concentrates on the theory and provides tips on using breeding tools in practice and helps to pinpoint which figures to seek out and prioritise.

High quality cattle are at the heart of profitable dairy farming. It isn’t just about genetics for milk production. It’s also about health, welfare, management and type traits, each one of which can make an important contribution to profitability and all can be improved through breeding.

Andy Dodd, DairyCo technical extension officer explains: “Although most people are familiar with genetic indexes for milk, fat and protein, it’s a common misconception that indexes only relate to production. Genetic indexes are far more and their application for non-production traits is becoming increasingly important in today’s health and welfare conscious society.

“In measuring an animal’s genetic merit and assigning it a genetic index, every effort is made to disregard the effects of its environment and to strip all of its performance down to the bare genetics. This means that a 12,000 litre cow from a high input system can be compared with one in an extensive herd averaging 6,000 litres. Equally, bulls whose daughters are milking in different production systems can also be fairly compared.”

DairyCo’s Breeding briefs, a guide to genetic indexes in dairy cattle, can be downloaded and requested by post from

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