The Value of EBVs in the Aberdeen Angus Breed

Evaluation of progeny from Top 10% (Lorabar Might Pribce) and Top 70% (Aynho Beck) Terminal Index Aberdeen Angus bulls intensively finished on a cereal beef system

Project number:                   7289

Lead contractor:                   Harper Adams

Start & end date:                   April 2007 – July 2009 (Report: November 2012)

 

The Problem

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) can make a substantial difference to the physical and financial performance of a beef herd when used for bull selection. Traditionally, the Aberdeen Angus (AA) breed is thought to be best suited to extensive pasture based systems, but work is required to investigate the performance of Angus cross male calves coming out of the dairy herd in intensive cereal based systems.

This study set out to compare the performance of progeny from high EBV index AA bulls with those of low EBV index AA bulls finished on a cereal beef system to test the hypothesis that selecting terminal sires using EBVs results in significant physical and financial performance benefits.

 

Project Aims

  • Determine the difference in financial value between calves of a top 10% AA terminal index sire with calves from a top 70% AA sire
  • Determine the suitability of the Aberdeen Angus breed for cereal based systems

 

Approach

Holstein cows from Harper Adams University College dairy herd were inseminated at random with either a top 10% or a top 70% terminal index Angus bull. After weaning at around 6 weeks of age the calves were transferred to the finishing ration. This ration was a 14% CP cereal mix ad libitum (67.5% rolled barley, 10% molassed sugar beet pulp, 7.5% soyabean meal, 7.5% rapeseed meal, 5% molasses, 2.5% high calcium intensive beef mineral) which was offered ad lib through to slaughter. There were a total of 52 bull calves reared, with 26 from each sire.

 

Results

This study showed that calves sired by the top 10% bull yielded significantly higher slaughter weights, daily liveweight gains and carcase weights compared to the top 70% sired bull calves (p<0.05)(Table 1). This would be offset marginally by the longer gestation length for top 10% bull‘s calves – predicted from the gestation length EBVs of the bulls- but overall the final carcase value was still worth £42.14 more per head for the top 10% bull‘s calves than those of the top 70% bull.  It also showed that the modern day Angus, especially high index Angus, can perform well in intensive finishing systems.

Table 1: Average values for the bull progeny

 

Top 70% sired

Top 10 %

Calving traits
Birth weight (kg)

39

40

Calving ease score

1.48

1.54

Gestation length (days)

281

283

Growth
Daily liveweight gain-birth   to slaughter (kg/day)

1.24

1.30

Daily liveweight gain-12   weeks to slaughter (kg/day)

1.38

1.46

Slaughter weight (kg)

532

562

Age at slaughter (days)

400

406

Carcase traits
Carcase weight (kg)

278

293

Kill out (%)

51.2

51.0

Carcase daily gain from birth   (kg)

0.65

0.68

Carcase price (£/kg – July   2012)

3.31

3.35

Carcase value (£)

918.70

979.44

 

Planned activity

The results will be used in conjunction with other studies to demonstrate the value of EBVs in presentations and literature aimed at beef producers and dairy producers where the opportunities arise.