It is that time of year again when commercial bull buyers must consider the range of genetic information presented in sale catalogues to select their upcoming herd sires.
Ian Locke of Wirruna Poll Herefords at Holbrook contends that a vital part of that information are the breeding or selection indexes.
The indexes are designed to allow animals to be compared on a basis of how much profit ($Index) they will generate, per cow joined, in a commercial herd for a particular production system and/or target market.
Ian says that in practise, “$Indices balance the relative growth, carcase and fertility genetic merits of each animal, as described by BREEDPLAN® Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs). This offers producers the ability to make selection decisions that account for both short-term profit generated by the bull through sale of his progeny, and the longer term profit considerations, such as the genetic value of his replacement daughters in a self-replacing cow herd, where permanent genetic traits are offered to future generations of the herd.”
The $Index technology was developed by the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU), a joint venture of NSW Agriculture and the University of New England. The Hereford breed first adopted $Indices in 2002 and over the last 20 years have refined them 3 or 4 times.
There are currently four different selection indexes calculated for Hereford animals. These are:
• Southern Self-Replacing Index
• Northern Self-Replacing Index
• Southern Baldy Maternal Index
• Northern Baldy Terminal Index
“In my experience, most commercial producers can readily align themselves with one of the given standard $Indices”, Ian said.
“The Southern Self-Replacing Index (SSR) is certainly an important component of the Breeding Objective at Wirruna, Ian said. Our herd $Index values average within the top 5% of the breed, and we can demonstrate genetic gains where we are 8 years ahead of the breed for SSR”. (see graph)
In the upcoming Wirruna Spring Bull and Female sale, to be held on property on Wednesday 23rd August 2023, Wirruna will again line-up some of the leading genetics of the Hereford Breed. “Of the 70 bulls for sale, 16 rank in the top 1% of the breed for SSR, offering real profit potential for bull buying clients” Ian said, “Similarly for the marbling gene, 20 of the sale bulls rate in the top 1% of the breed for IMF% EBV – confirming Wirruna’s position as the highest genetics for marbling in the Hereford breed.”