Cattle marts around Ireland are set to provide additional information to farmers buying calves, weanlings and store cattle intended for beef production.

The Commercial Beef Value (CBV) of animals will be made available to farmers on mart boards from early 2022.

Farmers can also view the CBV of an animal through the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) HerdPlus login under the ‘View Profiles’ section.

What is Commercial Beef Value?

According to ICBF, the Commercial Beef Value (CBV) is a new tool for non-breeding beef farmers which will give them a better insight into an animal’s genetic potential to produce a beef carcass.

It consists of five traits from the terminal Index that are important to a non-breeding dry-stock enterprise:

  • Carcass weight;
  • Carcass conformation;
  • Carcass fat;
  • Docility;
  • Feed intake.

The CBV is expressed as a euro value – like the replacement and terminal indexes – with both ‘within breed type’ and ‘across breed’ star ratings.

There are three ‘within breed type’ categories:

  • Suckler (beef sire and beef dam);
  • Dairy x Beef (one dairy parent and one beef parent);
  • Dairy x Dairy (dairy sire and dairy dam).

The ‘within breed type’ star rating will rank animals within that particular animals’ breed type.

According to ICBF, this ‘within breed type’ star rating is included to assist farmers who have a set enterprise in terms of the type of animal they buy (i.e. continental suckler-bred weanlings, dairy-beef store heifers or Friesian bull calves).

The ‘within breed type’ star rating aims to help farmers to identify the highest genetic merit animals within the breed type of interest to them.

CBV’s will not be available on pedigree cattle, dairy females or cows and eligible animals must have a registered sire to be allocated a CBV.

How to use the CBV

ICBF’s research has shown that generally, higher CBV values will mean better performance and a higher carcass value.

For example, suckler-bred progeny will have a higher CBV than dairy x beef and dairy x dairy stock, but within each category, there will be a noticeable value range difference.

The example used by ICBF on its website looks at a farmer buying Friesian bull calves and bringing them to beef.

In this example, a farmer has the choice of buying two Friesian bull calves where one has a CBV of -€80 and the other has a CBV of +€5.

The calf with a value of €5 has better beefing characteristics than the one at -€80 and should deliver €85 more than the calf with the lower value.

The extra value will come as a result of the genetic potential for better feed efficiency, carcass weight and conformation, according to ICBF.

The CBV will identify calves (being traded at marts or privately) with good genetic potential and calves with lower genetic potential, which can be very difficult to judge from viewing young calves at marts.

The CBV will have particular relevance to farmers purchasing calves, weanlings, stores and bringing them through to finish.

All eligible cattle with a registered sire have already been allocated a CBV which is available on ICBF HerdPlus.

Farmers can view the CBV of their animals by logging in and going into ‘View Profiles’ and the CBV option is listed under ‘General’.

ICBF comment

ICBF has said it is important that cattle buyers understand what the CBV means and what it might tell them in terms of the potential value of an animal.

ICBF research has shown that not all Friesian bull calves are the same nor are all dairy-beef calves, and calves that have the better genetics are worth more and will be more attractive to the buyer when being sold either at marts or privately.

Concluding, ICBF has said it is confident that if used correctly, the CBV will be a very useful tool for selecting beef animals across all categories.