Which animals are most suited to high input feeding?
High Breeding Worth (BW) cows of predominantly New Zealand ancestry are more profitable than high BW overseas bulls, as discovered in the Holstein-Friesian Strain Trial. This was across the range of pasture-based systems that are typical in New Zealand. There’s a common misconception that for intensive feeding you have to farm the bigger Holstein-Friesian type cow, but that’s not true.
BW is a measure of profitability that takes the cost of feed into account. So a high BW is what you need. The RAS List, which ranks bulls on their BW, is dominated by LIC bulls. So whether you use Premier Sires or Alpha Nominated bulls, you will get an animal suited to intensive feeding.
In order to give high input farmers even more help to breed the animals suited to their systems, LIC has developed the High Input Index.
High input farmers are not just interested in BW. They want animals producing high milksolids, and with good type (especially udder support) to carry the extra milk volume.
How the High Input Index differs from BW
1. BW uses information and economic weights appropriate for an average farm with an all-grass feeding system. The High Input index uses information and economic weights appropriate for the average high input system.
2. The BW considers the economic values of seven traits (milkfat, protein, volume, liveweight, fertility, somatic cells and residual survival), whereas the High Input index considers all of those plus udder overall (which is highly correlated to udder support).
3. The effective percentage weight of each trait in the index is different. Generally, the High Input index places slightly more emphasis on the somatic cell score, and weights almost one-tenth of the index on the udder.
BW is the best all-round tool for selecting animals for breeding. Other indexes should, as we always advise, be used in conjunction with BW, not instead of.
The High Input index will allow nominated farmers to fine-tune their breeding programmes to breed the animals they need for their high input management systems.