Separating Genetic Potential from Management Effect

As market conditions, weather, management choices and milk contracts change, it becomes increasingly important to ensure your breeding decisions meet your farms’ needs.  Both the main dairy breeding indexes in the UK (Profitable Lifetime Index – £PLI and Spring Calving Index – £SCI) are well established and strive to promote strong health traits; however, it is important to remember that they are average indexes and just because a bull is suitable for your neighbour, something better maybe available for you.

It is, therefore, important to gain a clear understanding of your current genetic potential – maintain your strengths while focusing on weaker areas:

• Do you know your genetic strengths?
• Have you evaluated the genetics on your farm and prioritised what you will need to maximise returns in 5 – 10 years’ time?

Take milk contracts for example, in the short term, nutrition plays a vital part in ensuring manufacturing contracts are fulfilled, but why pay for diet supplements long term if a change in the bulls you use can be equally beneficial?

• Can you be more targeted with your breeding?
• Do you need a dairy heifer from every animal?
• Can you be more targeted with sexed semen and therefore breed weaker animals to beef?

Knowing your genetic potential will ensure your next generation of heifers fit your system.  Ensuring your breeding choices meet your system and farms needs will improve profit, reduce expenditure (including vet and feed costs) and improve returns on milk contracts and increase beef sales.

To run an independent audit on your herd, speak to your local FCG office or contact Andy at

Posted in Business Management, Chippenham, Dairy & Forage.