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Customized selection indices for dairy bulls in Australia

  • P. J. Bowman (a1), P. M. Visscher (a1) and M. E. Goddard (a1)

Abstract

Customized sire selection indices were developed for Australian dairy bulls in order to promote more objective use of estimated breeding values in commercial breeding programmes. It was assumed that the breeding goal for commercial dairy farmers is the profitability of a bull's progeny. Seven characteristics of the progeny were identified as having a major impact on profitability and were included in the breeding objective: milk, fat and protein yield, survival, body weight, milking speed and temperament. Traits in the selection indices used to predict profit were milk, fat and protein yield, survival, milking speed, temperament, size, overall type and fore teat placement. Size was included because of its correlation with body weight, and overall type and front teat placement because of their correlation with survival. To avoid double counting the benefits of milk production traits, temperament and milking speed, the survival trait in the objective was defined as survival independent of voluntary culling for these traits. Customization of the breeding objective was achieved by adjusting the economic weights for traits in the objective to take account of important characteristics of farmers' herds, the milk payment system under which they operate and make allowance for their own value judgements. An assessment of the impact of customization suggested that, even though there is a wide range in the economic weights that are applicable in different areas of Australia, there would be little loss of efficiency in using a single national index. However, customization is still believed to be desirable given that it is likely that a substantial proportion offarmers will be reluctant to use a national index, especially in those states which have quotas and focus on the liquid milk market. The algorithms described in the paper have been incorporated into a user-friendly microcomputer program called $electabull which is now commercially available to farmers.

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References

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Keywords

Customized selection indices for dairy bulls in Australia

  • P. J. Bowman (a1), P. M. Visscher (a1) and M. E. Goddard (a1)

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