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Choosing traits when selecting bulls

10 September 2020

The generation of breeding goals can help producers to address on-farm challenges they may be facing, while also creating opportunities to strengthen productivity and profitability in their herds.

Therefore, it’s crucial for producers to understand how Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) can align with their breeding goals when choosing the right sire to fit their business.

Selecting sires that carry the right traits for a particular operation can lead to increased fertility, access to new markets, and faster turn-off in a herd, among many other profit-driving improvements.

MLA has recently released a new suite of videos on its Genetics hub that explain the different EBVs available and the potential benefits these can have on a herd’s performance.

The table below outlines some of the on-farm challenges, types of breeding goals and EBV selection traits available to producers through MLA’s BREEDPLAN database, and explains how these traits align to breeding objectives.

The on-farm business challenges or opportunities

The type of breeding goals

Available EBV selection traits

Link to video

Fertility and calving ease traits - Improving the reproductive performance of the cow herd

Getting cows in calf every year Reducing days to calving
  • Days to calving
View the video
Produce females that are pubertal as yearlings

Reduce days to calving
Increase scrotal circumference in males 

  • Days to calving
  • Scrotal circumference
Dystocia in first calving heifers Increase calving ease
  • Calving ease direct (terminal sire)
  • Calving ease of daughters (self- replacing herd)
  • Birth weight

View the video

Carcase traits - Carcase and eating quality traits help improve the yield and quality of the carcases produced

Carcases are too lean at slaughter Increase fatness
  • Rib fat
  • Rump fat
View the video
Carcases are out of spec for weight Increase carcase weight and muscling
  • Carcase weight
  • Eye muscle area
  • Retail beef yield
Meeting consumer expectations Improve MSA index
  • Intramuscular fat

Weight traits - Weight traits can be used to improve growth and control mature cow weight

Turning steers off earlier

Improve weight for age (reduce ossification)

  • 200-day weight
  • 400-day weight
View the video

Mature cows are too big 

Maintain mature cow size

  • Mature cow weight