Press Release

ICBF to launch improved genetic evaluations later this month

January 8th, 2020: Earlier this week, the board of ICBF approved the implementation of changes to both the Dairy EBI and the calving difficulty evaluation, with both coming into effect on the next official proof run (21st January). These developments come after several years of research involving Teagasc and ICBF, arising from industry-feedback. The fundamental improvements include changes to:

  • Genomics in the EBI: More accurate genomic evaluations, based on including cows and other dairy breeds in the reference population. For the first time, this will allow the provision of genomic evaluation services for other dairy breeds, including dairy cross-bred animals.
  • Calving difficulty in the EBI, Replacement and Terminal Index: Make more informed breeding decisions with a calving difficulty figure that’s more specific to the animal being mated (i.e. whether the bull is mated to a dairy heifer, a dairy cow, a beef heifer, or a beef cow).
  • Maintenance Sub-Index in the EBI: A maintenance sub-index that better reflects cow-live weight on-farm.
  • Dairy Beef Index: Continued roll-out of the Dairy Beef Index, to now also include stock bulls and young pedigree breeding bulls.

On the reason for these changes, Sean Coughlan, Chief Executive of ICBF, stated that “ICBF is continually striving to deliver improved accuracy in genetic evaluations to the agri-industry; that process will never end as there will always be room for improvement”. He noted that “where innovative research and technology proves to be more beneficial than current methodologies, ICBF will look to implement them so that farmers and industry can make decisions that maximise profitability and sustainability. That is what people rightly expect of us”.

Michael Doran, Chairperson of the ICBF Board, added “We are delighted that ICBF are now in a position to offer genomic evaluation services for all dairy animals. The updating of the calving evaluation will also help farmers make more informed decisions, as they will now be able to differentiate between the calving difficulty of a bull depending on the type animal to be mated. This is especially relevant for the continued roll-out of the Dairy Beef Index. The extension of that index to now include stock bulls and young bulls is as a very welcome development”. Michael added “the unique relationship between Teagasc, Industry partners, and ICBF has allowed us make these updates on behalf of farmers and the industry”.

All topics will be discussed in detail at the ICBF & Sheep Ireland Genetics Conference on 17th Jan in the Heritage Hotel, Killenard, Co. Laois, R32 PW10.


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