Here’s how to breed a 5 star heifer with the revised ICBF ratings

Herd reports for the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) are expected to arrive in the post in the coming weeks but what impact does the Euro-Star rating have on profitability?

This replacement value has dropped by approximately €60/head as the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) has readjusted the index to put more focus on milk and fertility.

The ICBF and industry stakeholders remodelled the existing index to increase the weighting placed on both milk and fertility by 6% each. Maternal traits now account for 41% of the replacement index.

Under the new system a cow with a replacement index of €100 should produce €100 more profit per calving compared to a cow with a value of €0.

These figures indicate the additional potential profit the cow will leave from each individual calving. So theoretically a one star cow will leave less profit than a higher performing five star dam at each calving.

But huge variations exist within each individual Euro-Star rating.

5 star piece

One star animals are classified as the worst performing animals and represent animals with the lowest potential performance (bottom 20%), but there is huge variation in the value for these cows in the lower ranges.

The bottom 1% of animal’s in the replacement index have a value of -€27, however not all one star animals have a negative replacement value as the bottom 10% have a value of €16.

A two star rating represents cows in the bottom 20-40% of animals for this index. There is huge variation within the values of this grouping with an €11 differential occurring between 20 and 30%.

A three star cow can be somewhat classified as middle of the road, the average cow in this index has a Euro-Star rating of €64, while values range from €55-73.

For a cow with a Euro-Star value of €64, she would have to be mated to a bull with a replacement value of €131 to produce progeny with a five star rating.

The four and five star animals will become fashionable with the introduction of the BDGP, and breeding these animals will soon become the attention of the autumn calving suckler farmers.

Four star animals are now classified as having a replacement value of €74-97 euro, while five star animals have a financial value of €98-159.

Breeding a five star heifer

ICBF figures

For the progeny on the ground to be classified as five star the combined parental Euro-Star value should be €196, the ICBF says.

To produce a five star heifer it may be then necessary to match each individual cow to the bull. Essentially this means matching lower value cows with higher bulls.

However, the ICBF warned that this simple calculation may not guarantee the production of an animal which is five stars for the replacement index as the reliability must also be considered.

The star ratings of animals can increase and fall so focusing solely on the figure is not advisable, it says.