There has been a lot of debate over the years about estimated breeding values(EBVs) and whether they work.
Recent results from the Beef and Lamb Genetics Progeny testing confirm predicted results from EBV selection for growth rate in cattle over five different locations were very close to expectation.
You only need look at the dairy and sheep industries to see genetic progress made and EBV’s at work.
There is no smoke and mirrors with EBV’s. They are even called “estimated” breeding values and come with accuracy measures.
The more information related to an animal’s performance, the more accurate EBVs become.They take away the animal’s skin for you so you can see his genetic makeup independent of environmental effects.
Buying bulls is a very important decision as his genetics will be with you for many years.
In unrecorded commercial beef herds he contributes 80 percent of the genetics for four generations directly and then through his female offspring for many more until they are CFA.
Start by having a breeding plan with objectives or goals - Know the strengths and weaknesses of your herd.
Find a breeder with similar breeding objectives and check his bulls out pre-sale, discuss with him his aims and what genetic gains he has made.
Ask about his culling policies and how much selection pressure he puts on. Does he use breed benchmark sires and does he have benchmark dams in his herd.
Ask where he lies on the breedplan breed average and has he used link sires to benchmark his performance against others.
Once you have decided on a breeder or breeders the hard work is done.
Now research his catalogue and rank bulls with figures that match your needs. Understand what EBV’s mean and what indexes are as well.
Your breeder and vet will be more than happy to explain.
On sale day have a look at those ranked bulls and make sure you like their type and conformation.
On the subject of sale catalogues check to see what presale fertility testing of animals has be performed and it suits you risk profile.
Good luck with your purchasing!
John Meban (BVSc)