To EBV or not to EBV – that is the question?

The cattle production sector is continually evolving as the industry embraces technology, science and metrics to increase both production and profitability and this includes maintaining and marketing Australia’s position as a world leader in the production of quality and safe beef. EBVs are one of the more high profile recent advancements in this space.

OK then why doesn’t Lone Station Simmentals use EBVs?

In principle Lone Station Simmentals stud manager Steven Manwill agrees with the objectives of using Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) as three strategic objectives of the stud operation include:

  1. Science is used to verify outcomes;
  2. Continually improve genetics; and 
  3. Accurate recordkeeping.

At a high level Estimated Breeding Values are aligned with all three of these strategies. Well why aren’t they used as part of the Stud Breeding operation? In summary EBVs are exactly that- “Estimated” not exact so any decisions made on estimation include a significant amount of variance and this needs to be factored into the decision making process.

There are many traits within EBVs- this article has chosen 200, 400 and 600 day weights as an example.

Few would argue that as beef producers our profitability is based on kilograms of beef produced whilst putting downwards pressure on cost. On that basis using 200, 400 and 600 day weights of animals sounds like a great indicator to inform sire/dam selection. It is likely that weighing every animal within a herd accessing the same feed and living under the same conditions (and weighed exactly at the same age) would provide an excellent indicator for performance within the group and there is probably little argument that EBVs (as related to weight at age) don’t support that. 

Conversely there are the variables between years. Dependent on seasonal conditions and stocking rates animals feed intakes will vary between years further creating a variance in the amount of estimation. Growth rates of progeny of females calving in a condition score of 2 at calving will also be significantly lower than progeny of a cow in a condition score of 3-4. Another variable factor could be that the year is tough and weaning occurs early to maintain the condition of the breeding herd. These and other factors add further variance to the EBV value between years.

Then there’s the variance between geographical locations of breeders, different feeding regimes and honesty in recording information. At the end of the day when our clients (most commonly the QLD High Bos Indicus content commercial cattle producer) ask for EBVs Lone Station will join the program. 

Until that time Lone Station Simmentals will continue to provide scanning results for P8, Rib, EMA and IMF with genetic decisions on growth made within the herd based on a consistent weighing regime. (Lone Station Bulls are bred and raised in heavy tick country so they go through the yards quite frequently) This is backed by Lone Stations guarantee that all bulls are vet checked, birth dates are accurate within ten days and no hoof trimming or coat clipping occurs along with everything else (e.g Bulls DNA verified to Sire).

Just like a commercial producer margins are tight for the Stud Breeder so costs and extra labour won’t be incurred for EBVs until its necessary and that costs incurred need to provide a demonstratable return on investment (ROI).

To find out more about Lone Station Simmentals and its stud breeding strategies go to

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