EBI values of genomic bulls set to fall by €30

The EBI values of genomically selected bulls, available through AI, could drop by €30 following the latest evaluation run carried out by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF).

This comes as 2017 calving data is factored into the equation, which the ICBF Chairman Michael Doran says will help improve the reliability of genomically selected bulls.

Following a meeting of the board of the ICBF last night, which was exclusively revealed by Agriland, it was decided to re-adjust the fertility predictions (circa 2 days calving interval, 1% decrease in survival) along with minor adjustments to milk production.

“Some of the bulls are not changing, some bulls will go up and some bulls will go down,” Doran said.

The genomic selection of bulls was first launched in Ireland in 2009, to allow the use of younger bulls for breeding and to decrease the time it takes to find high-EBI proven bulls by about five years.

At last night’s meeting, it was also decided to bring forward the publication of the organisation’s quarterly evaluation of Dairy AI bulls, which was not due to be published until May 2017.

The decision was also made to delay the publication of the Spring 2017 Active Bull List, with the ICBF instead now deciding to publish the quarterly evaluation of dairy bulls next week.

According to the ICBF, the recent investment in data processing capability has enabled the organisation to more quickly interpret performance data.

The data coming through from the spring calving season confirms an earlier expectation that a re-calibration of some performance indicators would be necessary, especially in relation to fertility.

The new AI bull evaluation which will be published next week will reflect the actual performance data from the Spring 2017 calving season and will strengthen the genomics indicators around fertility performance, mainly in relation to calving interval and survival, it says.

Those adjustments will be included in the new AI bull evaluation, so that farmers can take advantage of this information when selecting their bull panels for 2017.

Speaking about the decision ICBF Board Chairman Michael Doran said: “The board felt that it was in the farmers’ best interests to move forward the publication of the next AI bull evaluation, ahead of the upcoming breeding season.

“As in every quarterly run, there will be some changes to rankings.

“However, as always, the ICBF recommends that farmers use a team of bulls (minimum 5) from the Active Bull List, and should contact their local AI company to look at what is the best panel for their own herd,” he said.

“When our genomic-testing was first developed, its performance indicators were based on a training population of just over 2,000 animals.

“As we add more animals to the training population, we get better predictions, and the process will require on-going re-calibrations.

“This represents a fine-tuning of a very effective system and results in further accuracy on more animals in the ICBF’s growing database.

In all cases, EBIs will be more accurate than the values they replace thanks to the re-calibration.”

Doran also touched on the performance of the ‘Next Generation Herd’.

The herd, he said, continues to make significant progress since the introduction of genomics, with it delivering 491kg of milk solids and 98% of the cows being in-calf after 12 weeks on a grass-based system.

“We’re continuously looking for ways to streamline the processes involved in providing the industry’s most advanced genomic-enhanced selection tools.

“The ICBF is committed to keeping dairy farmers at the forefront of this technology and ultimately reducing the risks inherent in managing their individual cow herds while also driving efficiency,” he concluded.