Make Good Breeding Decisions This Autumn

UK - Use the Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI) to support your semen buying decisions for autumn and you'll be well on the way to improving the poorest traits in your herd and increasing your profits, says DairyCo geneticist Marco Winters.
calendar icon 1 September 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

"It might sound obvious but it's important to look at your herd's strengths and weaknesses," says Mr Winters, "consider what qualities the bulls need in order to improve your herd. Qualities you're likely to include are Lifespan and Fertility. For Lifespan index >0 is good and for Fertility Index >0 is good."

Mr Winters recommends following a six point plan to help make the best breeding decisions:

  • Use the PLI as the initial screening tool in bull selection. The PLI represents the financial improvement an animal is predicted to pass on to its daughters in its lifetime.
  • Focus on the top 50 per cent of bulls available, ideally with a PLI of over 70, and try to avoid those with a PLI of less than 50.
  • Look within this group for the traits you've identified as those that need most improvement. Though this will vary between herds it should include lifespan, SCC and Fertility. Consider health and fitness traits first, then type traits.
  • Choose a group of four or five bulls with different strengths and weaknesses and pick at least one of these with a positive direct calving ease score for maiden heifers.
  • Buy more semen from each of your high reliability bulls and less from each of the lower reliability bulls.
  • Avoid inbreeding which can be checked using breeding programmes offered by most AI companies and breed societies.

Be aware when selecting bulls of different breeds that the PLI value is within that breed, so you cannot make direct comparisons across breeds.

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