News

Benefits of beef cattle international evaluation

Published on
March 19, 2021

International evaluations allow breeders to compare animals’ genetic value across different countries. Researchers of Wageningen University & Research showed how national breeding centres of different countries can benefit from participating in international evaluations. Their study has been presented at the Animal Science Days 2020 conference held in Padova (Italy) and published in the journal ACTA Fytotechnica et Zootechnica.

From a country point of view, the main advantage of participating in international beef cattle evaluations is to gain access to estimated breeding values (EBV) of bulls from foreign countries. In turn, breeders can choose from a larger panel of elite sires that better meet their selection criteria.

Benefits of international evaluations

Using Limousin data from 10 European countries, researchers at WUR provided an up-to-date picture of the main benefits that international beef cattle evaluations led by Interbeef provide for participating countries. The study shows how Interbeef evaluations are beneficial for both large and small countries. On the one hand, large countries get their elite sires EBV published in other countries on a comparable scale, which facilitates their export. On the other hand, small countries get access to elite sires from foreign countries with EBV directly comparable with their domestic ones, which facilitates selection decisions.

Moreover, thanks to sires having recorded offspring in more than one country, the accuracy associated with EBV increases when considering records of related foreign individuals in the evaluation. More accurate EBV are especially important for those foreign sires that still have a limited number of domestic offspring in their country of origin.

Interbeef beef cattle international evaluations

Trading of bull semen between countries started with the development of artificial insemination and related reproduction techniques. Thanks to these advancements, farmers had access to the genetic material of sires from other countries. However, both importers and exporters of semen seek a fair comparison of animals’ genetic value, i.e. their EBV, across countries. International evaluations allow comparing the genetic value of individuals across countries by expressing EBV on the same country scale. To date, Interbeef evaluations involve five breeds, three traits, and 13 countries worldwide.

The project leading to these results has received funding from the Interbeef Working Group, the International Committee for Animal Recording—ICAR (Rome, Italy), the International Bull Evaluation Service (Uppsala, Sweden), and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF, Highfield House, Shinagh, Bandon, Co. Cork, Ireland).