Why do the EBIs of my animals keep changing?

The latest proofs (Eurostar and EBI figures) have been updated by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF), and are available to view for every animal, in your HerdPlus profiles.

Why do the EBIs of my animals keep changing?

Stephen Cadogan

The latest proofs (Eurostar and EBI figures) have been updated by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF), and are available to view for every animal, in your HerdPlus profiles.

All AI bulls have also been updated.

What data is included in this evaluation run?

All dairy data recorded up to June 15 has been included in this evaluation run.

As well as calving and fertility data, there will be a significant number of 2018 milk records included.

All beef data and genotypes submitted to the ICBF database up to July 27, 2018, have been included in this evaluation run.

This evaluation will see the publication of genomic proofs for animals that were sampled privately and as part of the BDGP and BDGP II.

The next date set for an evaluation publication is December 14, 2018.

The deadlines for data to be submitted for this evaluation are October 10 for dairy and October 27 for beef.

Why does the EBI value of my animals keep changing?

This is probably one of the most common questions about the EBI system.

Here at ICBF, we have a large computer, called a database, which receives information about animals on a daily basis.

Data such as calving surveys, milk recording, weights and birth and death dates are sent to us from farmers, milk recorders, linear scorers, marts and factories, etc.

We then take all of this information out of the database three times a year and run it through the genetic evaluation system.

The new information that has gone into the ICBF database since the previous run is then reflected in a change to the EBI of animals connected to that data.

It could be that a full sibling of your animal was found to be very hard calving in another herd; this will then affect your animal’s rating for calving difficulty.

So it is crucial to remember that the EBI of your animals is not just affected by the progeny that a bull sires on your farm, or by a cow’s performance on your farm

Why are relatives so important in the evaluation of an animal?

When ICBF evaluates bulls with large numbers of daughters, information on daughter performance compared to herd-mates is the most powerful source for estimating the bull’s genetic merit.

Provided that the genetic evaluation system has appropriately accounted for the genetic merit of the dams of the bull’s daughters, and that the bull’s daughters have not been given special treatment to

enhance their performance.

For a cow, it’s important to take into account the performance of her close relatives compared to their herd-mates, because these cows have genes in common with her.

How does the animal evaluation system cater for the fact that not all farmers have the same objectives?

The animal evaluation system identifies bulls that have high merit for profit — which is a common objective for farmers — while collecting data on other traits that farmers can use to meet their other objectives.

High-EBI bulls have a wide range of size, breed, milk, type and other traits to suit all farmer preferences.

Note that you can select bulls using traits in the ‘Sire Advice’ application.

For example: ‘I want a high-EBI sire that is in the top 10% for EBI, but I want to use a bull that is also in the top 5% for milk index, as I feel this area of my herd needs some improvement’. In this case, the ‘Sire Advice’ application returns only bulls in the database that meet these criteria. The application then ranks them in order of their EBI figure, and displays the bulls.

The user can then tick which bulls he wants to use on cows and heifers.

Will we lose the progress we’ve already made if we select animals for multiple traits (for example, fertility and production), instead of sticking to selecting animals for yield?

No, we have been very successful at selecting for yield over the last 50 years.

We try to maintain that excellent rate of progress while getting better at addressing other important traits – those traits that are generally referred to as functional traits, like fertility, resistance to mastitis, longevity, etc.

EBI/Eurostar variation

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