How to choose the appropriate bull – fit for purpose?

The very first step before you start choosing a bull is to identify a breeding programme that does what you want it to and produces a product suitable for your farming system. Make contact with the bull breeder and take the time to visit the stud prior to sale day. Have a list of questions you want to ask your breeder. Beef + Lamb NZ Genetics have a guide for this. Decisions made on sale day can impact your cow herd for the next 16 years through their own progeny and the next generation (Daughters progeny).

Once you have chosen your breeder(s), have a look at the different BreedObject indexes.

BreedObject is a tool for formalising breeding objectives and $Indexes that can help you breed more profitable cattle. It uses TACE EBVs. It helps you target the type of commercial herd performance you need from animals for a given market production system, and it helps you identify seedstock that will be best suited to this. BreedObject $Indexes are intended for use by both stud and commercial beef producers.

BreedObject draws together the TACE estimated breeding value (EBV) figures on bulls into a single EBV, the $Index, which describes how well bulls suit a particular purpose. If you are interested in more than one type of commercial production purpose, you will be interested in more than one $Index.

Selection Indexes provide commercial beef farmers with a way of sorting animals into the most profitable for a particular breeding objective. They are multi trait based and so individual animals can be rewarded across a range of traits and therefore receive a higher $ value.

Once you have chosen the appropriate index for your production system, you then need to rank the animals on their index to create a shortlist.

The next step is to go through the shortlist and eliminate any bulls whose individual EBVs are not fit for purpose. For example, poor calving ease/high birth weight for heifer bulls or a level of milk that is inappropriate for your production system.

Now you have a target list and are prepared for sale day and all you need to do is work through your list and focus on the visible traits such as structure and docility. This will then allow you to do a final re-ranking of the shortlisted bulls and a final game plan for purchasing your bull. It is highly recommended that you stick to your list you prepared to make the best genetic decisions for your herd.

Download Interpreting NZAA Selection Indexes by TACE