August 31, 2020
New dairy genetic index introduced in the UK
A new genetic index has been developed for dairy herds involved in crossbreeding, with the aim of better reaching goals required by these producers, The Scottish Farmer reported.
The index, named ProCROSS Ranking (PCR), has been developed by ProCROSS, a programme recognised as the only proven crossbreeding concept in the world. It is developed by Coopex Montbeliarde and VikingGenetics.
The programme involves the alternate use of the Holstein, Montbeliarde and VikingRed breeds in a structured manner, which maintains the maximum possible level of hybrid vigour while combining economic and physical traits from all three breeds.
"Breeders who have chosen to crossbreed are usually pragmatists," says Stéphane Fitamant, managing director for ProCROSS.
"They often don't get hung up on breed characteristics but would rather focus on traits which confer ease of management, health, fertility, robustness and ultimately profitability on to their herds.
PCR was therefore developed to help producers around the world select the best sires to achieve these goals, he says.
"We have based the index on science - and as such, the PCR is not unlike many countries' economic indexes, such as the £PLI in the UK, ISU in France, NTM in the Viking countries or NM$ in the USA - but have adjusted the weighting of the traits to fulfill the requirements crossbreeders have told us they value and need," Fitamant highlights.
PCR has been proven to afford improved health and fertility than predicted by the parent average, and includes a weighting of 45% production and 55% non-production traits, he elaborates.
"For example, there's a penalty for too much stature in the Holstein, and in fact for too much and too little in the VikingRed; there's an added bonus for udder conformation in the two red breeds and a bonus for good temperament in the Montbeliarde, to counteract some bulls which were negative for that trait in the past."
In short, ProCROSS cattle in a herd will be more uniform and produce increased weights of milk and/or milk solids.
There are two versions of the PCR to cater to a distinct divergence between producers' needs - some of whom supply a purely liquid market while others need high solids for cheese or other manufacturing contracts.