The November 2022 evaluation figures are now available for all dairy and beef animals. The ICBF Animal Search, Active Bull Lists and Stock Bull Finder have all been updated. Farmers subscribed to the HerdPlus service can view their animal’s new evaluation figures through the various online profiles. Reports (EBI, Euro-Star, etc.) will be updated over the coming days & farmers will be notified by text as soon as these reports are available online.
Changes to the EBI
New Carbon sub-index now Included
- The Agri sector has been set the target of reducing emissions by 25% (7.75 Mt C02e) by 2030. Genetics has been tasked with reducing this figure by 1.2Mt of C02e and the inclusion of the new Carbon Sub-Index into the EBI is imperative to achieving this target.
- How is Carbon being included?
It is being included by assessing the impact individual traits are having on ‘carbon’ production.
- What are the traits?
Nine traits within the EBI contribute to the make-up of the Carbon Sub-Index. They are as follows: (i) Milk (ii) Fat (iii) Protein (iv) Calving Interval (v) Survival (vi) Gestation (vii) Live Weight (viii) Carcass Weight (ix) Age at Slaughter. These nine traits combine to make up 10% of the emphasis on the EBI.
- How is it being calculated?
The carbon values are being calculated using the Moorepark dairy simulation model. This model has been expanded to now include the internationally recognized method for measuring carbon which is the ‘Life Cycle Assessment’ methodology. The current carbon cost in the model is €80/tonne.
- Why is Carbon being included in the EBI?
Research has confirmed that by selecting on EBI we have already been indirectly selecting for a reduced carbon footprint. The higher your herd EBI the lower your carbon footprint. However, by now directly including carbon in the EBI index we can make faster progress and, as always with breeding the benefits will be cumulative over time.
- How will this change affect farmers?
The inclusion of ‘carbon’ will allow farmers to select bulls that will directly reduce emissions in their herd.
- How is Carbon being included?
New traits and updated Beef sub-index
- This addition involves the inclusion of a new trait ‘Age of slaughter’ and the ability to produce progeny with desirable carcass specifications as a younger age of slaughter is both economically and environmentally beneficial. Research indicates that higher EBI animals have lower methane output/day than lower genetic merit animals. For every month an animal is slaughtered earlier, there can be up to 250kg of C02e reduced per head. So, selecting directly for a younger age of slaughter has the potential to further drive down the carbon footprint of our national herd.
New & updated traits in Health sub-index
- This addition will improve the way in which ‘SCC’ and Tuberculosis (TB) are being included in the health sub-index. In line with international best practice, Ireland will move to evaluate cow’s SCC with a new method that is better able to account for environmental factors on the day of the milk recording, such as weather, feed levels and grass quality. TB cost the industry almost €100 million in 2020, so we all need to work towards reducing the rates of TB and breeding more resilient animals.
- Genetic resistance to TB has been a standalone trait but now it is being included in the health sub-index.
Inclusion of genomics for minor breeds
- There is now enough data in the database from more dairy breeds to allow them to be included in the genomic EBI evaluation. Now, another 9 breeds will be included in the evaluation; Brown Swiss, Fleckvieh, MRI, Milking Shorthorn, Swedish Red, Kerry, Normande, Rotbunt & Danish Red. This means that an extra 5,000 animals will receive a genomic evaluation, and an additional 1,500 animals will be added to the training population. This creates greater genetic diversity and the extra information in the across breed evaluations will help to increase the rate of genetic gain nationally.
Dr Margaret Kelleher explaining the Changes in the EBI
Next Evaluation Dates
The next evaluation publication date is set for 24th January 2023. For more information on future publication dates and their respective data deadlines, please click here.
If you have any queries on evaluation figures please contact us on 023-8820452 or email [email protected].