12 Feb 2018

Type Classification: With great type comes great profitability

The Type classification service is a great a means of measuring conformation to promote next generation improvement, with both animals and their owners benefitting from good type. These benefits can be seen in many ways, such as increased production and longevity and reduced conformation associated health issues. Therefore, our Senior Data Analyst Henry Richardson, with Classification Analyst Jess Edwards, set to work exploring the vast amounts of classification data to see what stories it told.

The main question asked was; does good conformation mean increased production, longevity and therefore profitability? Let’s have a little look at what he discovered…

Firstly, a few points about the projects cohort group. The animals used were first classified as heifers between 2000 and 2002 and must have completed at least one lactation. For those animals, all subsequent lactation information up to September 2013 was utilised to calculate lifetime yields. In total, a dataset of approximately 98,000 heifers was analysed.

This project perfectly illustrates the linear scale scoring of the degree of each trait and not its desirability, with optimum scores absolutely existing in terms of production and longevity.

Unsurprisingly the mammary composite was most associated with increased lifetime yield (LTY). Those animals scoring Excellent produced on average 22,934kg more over their lifetimes than those classified Poor, equating to an average increased lifetime income of £6,181 or £1.50 a day. This is likely related to the additional two years on average that these animals lived. It is a similar, if not quite as impressive trend, across the other composite scores; Legs & Feet and Body Composite, with those heifers scoring excellent producing on average 17,451kg (£4,703) and 11,561kg (£3,116) more respectively than those heifers scoring poor.

When breaking the mammary composite down into individual linears, the traits with maximum associations with LTY, were again, unsurprising. Rear udder height saw the greatest link with increased LTY with heifers scoring 9 producing on average 16,511kg, worth an additional £4,450 over the lifetime. However, a score of 8 for rear udder height formed the optimum in terms of longevity. Heifers with udder depth scores of 6/7 produced on average 15,921kg (£4,291) more than those scoring 1 whilst on average producing for 1.7 lactations more than those scoring 1. Finally, those scoring 7/8 for udder support yielded some 12,336 (£3,325) more than those scoring 1 whilst producing for an additional 1.1 lactation on average.

This piece of work demonstrates the ability of classification to identify animals with the potential to achieve increased lifetime yields and extended lifespan. Therefore, alongside this it can also be utilised to identify system specific conformation requirements. Research on this is currently being completed with an initial overview concluded with more in-depth analysis pending.

If you wish to receive more information regarding the LTY work or the system specific work please your local CIS Area Manager or email the National Bovine Data Centre (NBDC): info@nbdc.uk