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Age at slaughter and in spec traits added to DBI

Age at slaughter and in spec traits added to DBI

Additional measures – including a carbon sub-index, age of slaughter and an in spec composite trait – have been added to the DairyBeef Index (DBI) as part of the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation’s latest evaluation of the beef breeding tool for dairy farmers.

In an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of dairy beef production, a carbon sub-index has been included and represents 7% of the DBI value. This element will focus on the traits linked to heightening or lowering carbon emissions from beef production and includes namely gestation, carcass weight and age of slaughter. Animals that have a genetically shorter gestation length, producer lighter carcasses and finish earlier will benefit most in this regard. It is hoped that including age at slaughter will identify sires capable of producing progeny ready for slaughter at younger ages. Up until now, carcass weight, conformation and fat score were the primary beef production traits considered within the DBI.

Figure 1. Updated Relative Emphasis of the Dairy Beef Index (DBI). January 2023. Source ICBF.

Graphic of DBI 2023

The inclusion of an in-spec composite trait has also occurred, which is hoped will identify progeny that can meet factory specifications at slaughter – specifically carcass weight (280-380kg), conformation (O= and better) and fat score (2+ to 4=). The inclusion of these traits now mean that the beef sub-indexes of the Economic Breeding Index (EBI), DBI and Commercial Beef Value (CBV) have become more closely aligned, with all three now consisting of carcass weight, conformation, age of slaughter and a composite in-spec trait. 

The higher prices paid for cattle over recent years has also resulted in an ‘economic update’ within the DBI, which generally means that most animal’s values have increased by €30. As this applied to all animals to which the index applies, the level of re-ranking to occur is likely to be minimal.