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The ICBF ‘Terminal Index’ has a different makeup than the more talked about ‘Replacement Index’. A recent analysis of the Sires of Irish Show winners underlines the fact that when it comes to using indexes it really is a case of ‘Horses for Courses’.


In Ireland we have 2 main beef ‘€uro-Star Indexes’ – ‘Replacement’ & ‘Terminal’. These 2 indexes have grouped traits together depending on their importance for achieving an overall goal.

The Replacement Index is made up of 60% calving and maternal traits and 40% beef & feed intake traits. It estimates how suitable females will be for calving ability, milk & fertility and ultimately being good low maintenance suckler cows. It also estimates the beefing ability of a cow as it is critical that the quality of our national beef herd does not decrease.

Figure 1: Traits & their weightings in the ICBF ‘Replacement Index’.

 The Terminal Index is made up of over 70% Beef traits, with the remainder being calving ease and docility. It estimates how profitable an animal’s progeny will be for liveweight, carcass conformation and ultimately being finished for slaughter themselves.

Figure 2: Traits & their weightings in the ICBF ‘Terminal Index’.


  • The really important point here is that there are traits in the ‘Replacement Index’ that you cannot estimate by simply looking at the animal. Traits such as ‘Fertility’, ‘Calving Ability’ and ‘Feed Intake’.
  • However, in the ‘Terminal Index’, nearly 60% of the index is made up of beef traits such as ‘Carcass Weight’ & ‘Carcass Conformation’. So you can get an indication from looks alone as to how a bull is breeding for the more visually obvious beef traits.


In a showring, the judge is mostly going on how the animal looks before deciding on who gets 1st prize etc. You would expect animals that are rated highly for the ‘Terminal Index’ to also do well in the showring. Indeed, when we look at the sires of all the show winners at recent summer shows in the Charolais & Limousin breeds it is evident that the vast majority of the sires of these animals had excellent index figures for overall ‘Terminal Index’ as well as the ‘Carcass Weight’ and ‘Carcass Conformation’ indexes (Table 1).

Table 1: Terminal Index averages for the sires of show winners
Table 2: Thirty seven sires of recent show winners in the Limousin & Charolais breeds

The 37 Charolais & Limousin sires of recent Show Winners are all rating very highly for the main ICBF Terminal index traits (Table 2).

Following are 2 good examples of how a highly rated sire on ‘Terminal Index’ is finding success in the showring.

Wilodge Vantastic
Ardnacrusha Lord of the Rings

‘Ardnacrusha Lord of Rings’ was a 1st prize winner at Charleville show in 2018. His sire is ‘Wilodge Vantastic’ who is a sire of multiple champions at numerous shows around Ireland and the UK.

Fleetwood sons in the herd of Padraig Finnegan

AI Sire ‘Fleetwood’ recently sired two commercial Charolais calves that were judged 1st in class at the recent ‘All Ireland Super Suckler Cow & Calf competition in Bonniconlon Agricultural show which was organised by the Irish Charolais Cattle society and sponsored by Mayo-Sligo Livestock mart and Dovea Genetics.

Owner of the winning pen of animals, Padraig Finnegan, Knockadoo, Coolaney, Co.Sligo is ‘very happy with the quality  of stock that ‘Fleetwood’ is siring’. He added that he has ‘got on well with him and also rates ‘Derryolam Impeccable’ (CH2066) from whom he has a very stylish calf at home’. Using 100% AI in his herd for over 20 years, Padraig can trace any of his homebred cows back for several generations. The dam of one of the ‘Fleetwood’s’ goes right back to a 1st cross ‘FBX’ off a British Friesian cow x ‘CF52’ x ‘Malibu’ x ‘Limkiln Bosco (KIB)’. Being by ‘KIB’ she does’nt come up that highly on ‘Replacement Index’ but she has a huge ‘Terminal Index’ rating of €131 (51% rel) and from a visual point of view that has been proven true at the show. The dam’s of both calves are genotyped and he is an active participant in the BDGP scheme. Padraig has always found the index information in the catalogues very helpful when choosing what AI Sires to use. Commenting on the BDGP scheme; ‘There is lots of talk about stars. I can see that in general milk is going back in suckler cows. I keep an open mind and listen to all sides when I’m making my breeding decisions’.


Comments such as ‘power’, ‘presence’, ‘correctness’, ‘well balanced’, ‘great quality’ are all frequently heard at the many summer shows held around Ireland. The ‘Terminal Index’ contains many of the traits that contribute to an animal receiving such comments.  As stated earlier, it is an index that estimates how profitable an animal’s progeny will be for liveweight, carcass conformation and ultimately being finished for slaughter themselves and so it is no surprise that progeny of bulls with high ‘Terminal Index’ ratings, in general, are doing well at the shows where visual is king.

It is critical not to confuse the ‘Terminal Index’ with the ‘Replacement Index’. As shown earlier in ‘Figure 1’, the Replacement index does contain beef traits but it also contains traits that cannot be gauged by visually assessing an animal. It is an index that judges how good an animal is for siring good replacement females and good cattle for finishing. In many respects, in GAA terms, he is a dual-player.

Whereas, the ‘Terminal Index’ just plays the one code! The high ‘Terminal Index’ bull is good at delivering cattle with little calving difficulty that end up with excellent carcasses, and as can be seen above, can produce a lot of show winners too!

Find out more about a bull’s Terminal Index by clicking on the ‘Terminal Graphics’ tab in the ICBF ‘Animal Search’

All of the data used in this article is freely available on the ICBF website. Enter an animal’s tag number into the ‘Animal Search’ and then click on the tabs to find out more about how an animal’s index is calculated.

This article has been prepared by ICBF in good faith on the basis of information provided to it. No representation or warranty expressed or implied is made or given by ICBF as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness of this article. ICBF shall not be liable for any losses (whether direct or indirect), damages, costs or expenses whatsoever, incurred or arising from any use of or reliance on this article or the information contained in it by any person.