Through the implementation of accurate record keeping and genotyping, the EBI has increased in reliability over time and this has helped Irish farmers to make more informed breeding decisions. However, two areas in the EBI which require additional records to improve accuracy are the Maintenance and Health Sub-Indices.

Cow liveweight is the key driver of the maintenance sub-index in the EBI. The current reference cow in the Teagasc economic model, which is used in calculating the value of the Maintenance Sub-Index in the EBI, is 540kg. The current economic value estimated equates to an extra €7 cost per lactation for every extra 10kg in cow liveweight. In an effort to improve the accuracy of the maintenance figure in the EBI, ICBF are working with a cohort of 106 farmers to weigh 20,000 dairy cows. These herds are active participants in the Dairy Gene Ireland programme.The weighing will be completed throughout July and August this year.

These weighing sessions will be conducted by weight recording technicians using a handheld device as cows are leaving the milking parlour. Farmers will be provided with a summary of their milking herd’s weight profile.

We also aim to record data on lameness, mastitis & temperament through farmer assistance/declaration on the day.

All dairy farmers are encouraged to weigh their dairy cows, regardless of whether or not they are participating in this project. Farmers can use their own scales or rent a scales from one of the depots located around the country. Alternatively, farmers can contact a weight recording technician.

Weights can be recorded via the ICBF weight recording app, desktop version or via farm software apps.