A new dairy cow index is currently being developed by the research team at Teagasc, Moorepark in conjunction with the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and it is set to launch by August 2014.

The cow production index (CPI) is designed to rank cows on their expected profitability, taking cognisance of both genetic and environmental factors, explained geneticist Ross Evans of the ICBF.

The Economic Breeding Index, EBI, also developed in Moorepark with the ICBF, only includes genetic effects. “The ability to identify the profit potential of cows is essential in enabling farmers to make more informed culling decisions.”

Evans elaborated: “The heterosis effect associated with crossbreeding is not included in the EBI; this is because heterosis is not completely transmitted from parent to offspring. This heterosis component will be included in the new cow production index and will, therefore, be of particular interest to farmers engaged in crossbreeding. Some past managerial or other environmental perturbations can affect an animal’s production for the rest of its life but are not transmitted to offspring.”

The parity of the animal and its expected next calving date also impact on the future profitability of the cow so both terms will also be included in the new index, he added.

According to Evans, the new cow production index will be of huge importance in the management of dairy farms post quota, in terms of efficiency and production decisions.  “All going to plan the new cow production index will launch in early autumn 2014.”

A similar cow production index is in operation in New Zealand and The Netherlands.

Image Shutterstock