NEW ZEALAND – The breeding value of some New Zealand bulls will alter when a new trait is integrated into genomic evaluations, worth thousands of dollars to each herd.
The economic impact of Body Condition Score (BCS) has led to its inclusion in the 2016 ‘Breeding Worth’, levy board Dairy New Zealand has announced.
Dairy NZ, the group overseeing the development of the new trait, says the cost is NZ$106.6 per BCS and its inclusion could enhance the rate of improvement in breeding worth.
This was discovered three years ago in the 2012 National Breeding Objective Review where BCS, particularly in late lactation, was identified as an important trait to farmers.
The value of BCS comes in two main components – maintaining milk yield and saving on feed costs.
A DairyNZ spokesperson said: “Firstly, the reduced costs from a cow maintaining or losing less condition as opposed to a cow that loses lots of condition in spring and then has to replenish that condition in autumn or winter when feed is more expensive.
“Secondly, the value of a well-conditioned cow milking well into late lactation, rather than drying her off early for poor condition. These result in an economic value of $106.6 per BCS.”
Breeding value for BCS is calculated from the records of two year old heifers. These are collected in early lactation with the majority coming from industry standard progeny tests.
However, the adjustments mean the “vast majority” of bulls will have a shift in breeding worth of ten units higher or lower, potentially greater in young bulls, warned DairyNZ.