The indexes have arrived! Thank you and congratulations to the SPI technical committee and the previous board who made it happen. Thank you too to all the performance recorders. You are the ones who invest in data collection and submission that we all collectively benefit from. I say invest for a reason. It is not just an expense because it’s all about the future. The knowledge gained from the information collected will guide our breeding decisions and advance the breed. So again thank again. So what are the indexes and why should we use them? 

Indexes are a very interesting tool for those who don’t want to spend hours wading through Breedplan figures. They are widely used by bull buyers in other beef breeds as it focuses selection on a production system, not any one particular trait. They are very useful in focusing on the markets you intend to produce for.   From the Domestic Maternal to the Export Terminal the indexes are tools commercial bull buyers use. At Te Mooi we have used an in-house index for years. Its construction, it is quite similar to the Export Maternal Index. We have always selected heavily for fertility, calving ease, 400 and 600 day growth and IMF%.

“Selection indexes assist beef producers to make selection decisions that take into account the relevant growth, carcase, fertility, and efficiency attributes of each animal to identify candidates whose progeny will be the most profitable for a particular commercial enterprise. Selection indexes provide an overall indication of an animal’s genetic value for profit in a specific production system/target market and are calculated based on weightings placed on individual traits that are deemed to be important for that production system.”

Breedplan

Data is the key to the value of the indexes, as it is with Breedplan. Data, Data, Data. Little or no data makes Breedplan inaccurate, and inaccurate Breedplan makes inaccurate indexes. Estimated Breeding Values are just that, estimated. They rely on the data in the system and the more data the more accurate the EBV.  This is the reason we invest so much time and resources in data collection and submission. Speckle Park has come a long way in a short time on this front. The large amount of DNA on file as well as the efforts of many performance recorders has resulted in reliable and accurate EBV’s.

Don’t let the nay-sayers diswade you. BreedPlan is a very effective tool when it has data to work with, and the accuracies of traits reflect how much data is behind the EBV.  When you compare the EBV’s of Speckle Park animals that are performance recorded in contemporary groups to Angus individuals that have been recorded in contemporary groups, accuracies for recorded traits are very similar. The accuracies of our animals at Te Mooi are the same as Angus animals produced in operations of similar size. Larger programs have an advantage but it is not significant. The efforts of all those who have submitted data and the value of genomics shines through.

Average accuracies of 400 days weights

At Te Mooi, we will only take notice of the Indexes of animals that have been performance recorded and have what we deem to be acceptable accuracies of the key traits. The great majority of bull buyers rate EBVs as important to very important in their bull purchasing decisions. They see the results in the paddock, and on their kill sheets. At a recent processors function I attended, every producer I spoke with was completely across the data they get back on their produce, and they are all very clear of the EBV performance they expected from their seed stock suppliers. A great many quoted their index and IMF% requirements.

A 2019 MLA study into Breedplan revealed some fascinating facts about its users. Breedplan herds average 270 cows, whereas non BreedPlan herd average 40 cows. There is a significant increase in value of the stock from BreedPlan herds with bulls selling at an average of more than double that of non users. Total bull sale income of BreedPlan herds average $511,034  compared to $36,896 from non BreedPlan herds.

“If you’re not aggressively accelerating the performance of your herd or flock by using better breeding values, you’re fighting a losing battle.”

Professor Rob Banks, Director of the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit at the University of New England

Te Mooi Skywalker S48 Top 1% all indexes

We are unashamed BreedPlan participants and the indexes are a great step forward for the breed and our clients. The release of the indexes revealed that there is one bull born in Australia that has been performance recorded that sits in the top 1% of all indexes and we are pleased to report that he is Te Mooi Skywalker S48. Skywalker S48 was purchased at The Performance Sale last March by Minnamurra Pastoral Company and we look forward to seeing the contribution he can make to the industry.