IMPORTANCE OF BIRTH WEIGHT EBV
There is a long list of criteria to be considered when choosing a new bull, but at the top of this list will be ease of calving and strong growth rate. Traits like growth rate and conformation can be assessed by eye, but a low birth weight bull can look much the same as a high birth weight bull. Having a reliable birth weight EBV is therefore of great value and importance when the buyer has come looking for easy calving, especially as a glance at the Published Sires table reveals that it is possible to find Salers bulls that combine excellent growth rates and low/moderate birth weights.
To achieve reliable birth weight EBVs, the Salers Society strongly encourages members to weigh all their calves at birth and to submit these birth weights to Breedplan when registering or notifying their calves. Commendably, more members than ever are doing this and for 2018 ytd, 65% of calves have their birth weight recorded. Calves by Salers bulls are typically 32-36kg for heifers and 35-40kg for bulls, which combined with the long slender shape of the Salers calf, underpins the unrivalled calving ease which is the hallmark of the Salers bull and which is fuelling the dramatic growth in the breed. Breeders now have the information to guide their choices so that these traits are protected.
PROGRESS WITH PERFORMANCE RECORDING
The number of members who are Performance Recorders has continued to increase. Over 20% of members registering calves are also submitting regular post birth weight information to Breedplan, including weights of young stock, mature cow weights, scrotal circumferences of young bulls, and figures from back fat scanning. Consequently, the accuracies of the birth, 200- and 400-day weight EBVs are improving, hence the increased number of bulls qualifying for the Published Sires table.
The Milk EBV should continue be treated with caution as it will take some years to reach an acceptable accuracy, as the contribution to growth rate from milk is calculated from data gathered over several generations and needs good numbers of daughters of recorded bulls to contribute performance recorded calves.
The Published Sires table here does not show the accuracies, but this information can be looked up on any registered animal by following the links from the Salers website http://salers-cattle-society.co.uk
AIMS FOR 2019
Tremendous progress has been made since the first weights went into Breedplan in May 2016, and the scheme is benefitting from so many members participating. This needs to continue, with even more birth weights being collected and more members becoming Performance Recorders. The next important development is to find ways to encourage greater genetic linkage between performance recording herds.