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Take Note of Milk EBV's When Buying Bulls

Because beef cows are not milked, we use the indirect measurement of her calf's weaning weight to calculate a cow's milking ability. However a calf's weaning weight comprises the combined effects of its growth capacity inherited from its sire and dam, plus the quality and quanitity of its dams milk production - which is also influenced by the environment.

Complex calculations differentiate the effects of milk and growth genes on weaning weight to establish the cow's milk EBV (i.e. the genetic component of milk production independent of environmental effects).

For bulls the milk EBV is more indirect in that it estimates the genetic milking ability he will pass on to his daughters - as demonstrated by the weaning wieght of is daughters calves (independent of those calves genes for growth). For a yearling bull the milk EBV is calculated from the milk EBVs of his parents and close relatives, and has a lower accuracy until his first daughters wean their calves.

Milking ability is important and can be improved by selecting bulls with above breed-average milk EBVs. However small differences in milk EBV's between bulls are probably insignificant when considering the broad range of EBV's available.



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