Increase in number of Foreign EBVs in Irish Evaluations

A fundamental element to Irish evaluations, both beef and dairy, are the accompanying reliability figures. In order to increase reliability figures, more data is required. While there are high levels of data available for domestically bred animals with lots of progeny records, this is often not the case for imported animals and animals of outcross pedigree with little or no progeny data.

Inclusion of Foreign EBVs

For a number of years, ICBF has been including foreign EBV (Estimated Breeding Value) data in evaluations. This has allowed for evaluations with much higher reliability figures to be published for animals with limited performance records in Ireland. In the new evaluations, 1,312 animals have a foreign EBV included for the first time, which includes 87 AI bulls. This brings the total number of animals with a foreign EBV included in their evaluation to just over 60,000 in the May Evaluations.

As 30% of pedigree beef calves born in 2016 were registered to a foreign sire, it highlights the importance of including foreign EBVs in our evaluations. The majority (97%) of foreign sired progeny comes from UK and French sires. This is particularly helpful to pedigree breeders using imported semen from foreign bulls, with few or no progeny performance records here in Ireland. It also helps people purchasing bulls to make more informed decisions, by increasing the reliability of progeny evaluations for international sires.

UK Charolais EBV data included for the first time

Much of the new information comes from UK Charolais EBVs which are being included in our evaluations for the first time. This is a very positive development for pedigree Charolais breeders that own UK bred animals, or that wish to use semen from UK Charolais sires. Other breeds have also seen an increase in the numbers of animals with foreign EBVs included. We do not receive the actual data recorded from foreign countries, so we incorporate the EBVs after our domestic evaluations have taken place.

How do I know if an animal has foreign EBVs included in its evaluation?

To see if an animal has had foreign EBVs included in its evaluation, go to the ‘Evaluation History’ tab on the ICBF Animal Search. Scroll down to the progeny records section. If an animal has a foreign EBV included in a particular trait(s) it will be denoted with a hash symbol ‘#’. Figure 1 shows the progeny records table for a UK Charolais AI bull. The animal has only 1 domestic calving difficulty record included in its evaluation. The hash symbol shows, however, that a foreign EBV has been included in this bull’s calving difficulty figure.

Figure 1. Progeny records table in the ‘Evaluation History’ tab. The ‘#’ symbols show that foreign EBVs have been included for these traits.

For more information on the inclusion of foreign EBVs or any other element of genetic evaluations, please contact us on 023-8820452 or email