In the current climate of poor lamb prices, poor forage quality and increasing costs of production, we need to use every tool available to help improve our margins.
The dairy, beef, pig and poultry industries have all reacted to current pressures and invested proactively in the genetics of their breeding animals. Genetic improvement is cumulative and sustainable and one of the best investments that can be made in your breeding flock.
So what can Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) do to improve the performance of your flock? By carefully selecting the right tup, you should be able to achieve the following:
l an improvement in the number of lambs born;
l higher growth rates, reducing the number of days to slaughter;
l an increase in the slaughter weight of prime lambs;
l an improvement in the productivity of replacement stock;
l an improvement in the genetic potential of the whole flock, bringing cumulative improvements to the bottom line for years to come.
So how are EBVs calculated? Best Linear Unbiased Prediction (BLUP) is used to analyse the pedigree and performance data of each animal. BLUP calculates how much of each animal’s performance is due to its “breeding potential” (genetics) and how much is due to its “environment”.
The pedigree data collected includes up to 40 years of pedigree information from all the relatives of the animal, the relationship between performance traits (correlations) and the degree to which traits are inherited from one generation to another (heritabilities).
EBVs are derived only after a comprehensive analysis of the animal’s genetic history, taking into account the strength and likelihood that traits will be passed down to the next generation.
I would encourage you to consider carefully the advantages of using EBVs in your breeding decisions. Think about the productivity, the performance and reap the profit!