Sire selection is a crucial aspect of herd management that sufficient time needs to be allocated to.
In terms of selecting beef sires based off the Dairy Beef Index (DBI), improving beef traits from the dairy herd has led to the breeding recommendation of only generating enough dairy replacements to meet your herd’s requirements.
The DBI ranks beef bulls – for use in the dairy herd – according to their genetic merit, for a range of calving performance and carcass performance traits.
Using a bull only for his ‘easy calving’ or ‘short gestation’ attributes can result in lighter carcasses.
However, incorporating several traits simultaneously into selection decisions using an overall index (DBI), can produce more balanced cattle with more favourable economic returns.
DBI index research
Sires that ranked best on calving traits alone (easy calving, short gestation, low calf mortality) were compared with sires that ranked best on the DBI, in research conducted by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF).
The 2,192 beef sires had farm production records available from 3,065 dairy herds to make comparisons.
The best ranked sires on DBI delivered heavier, with more conformed carcasses, that had a greater chance of meeting factory specifications for conformation – compared to the best ranked sires on calving traits.
The higher DBI sires achieved the additional performance without increasing the incidence of cow calving difficulty, without increasing gestation length, and without increasing calf mortality.
The additional revenue to the finisher that slaughtered 20 progeny from sires that ranked best on DBI, was €829.40.
For calving performance, the monetary benefit to the dairy farmer that had 20 calves from high DBI sires was €79.60, compared to sires that ranked best on calving performance.
Accessing the DBI
The Dairy Beef Index is available for all beef animals through:
- Animal search;
- Active bull list;
- Sales catalogue;
- Eurostar profile;
- Stock bull finder.