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How About a Feed Saved Index for Sheep?

The Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme has incorporated a new “feed saved index ” into new Australian Breeding Values.

Dairy farmers will be able to identify the so-called “leaners” and the “lifters” in their herds.

The “lifters” eat less feed and produce more kilograms of milk whereas the “leaners” do the opposite.

Great eaters, but produce less.

Dairy farmers will be able to breed cows that produce the same amount of milk from less feed, due to their lower maintenance requirements.

Visually you cannot spot the highly feed efficient cow, but with the help of genomics and research collaborations, farmers can now breed for it.

It will be possible to identify bulls that can save at least 100kg of dry matter per cow per year.

Multiply that by 100 and you get quite a substantial feed saving.

Breeders who have been used to using the Australian Profit Ranking Index (APR) will find this replaced by the Balanced Performance Index (BPI) which focuses on maximising net profit through production, fertility and type and also incorporates the feed saved index.

Perhaps our ewes producing the highest weight of lamb weaned are not necessarily the most profitable because of their voracious appetites.

Maybe the New Zealand Sheep Improvement Limited Dual Purpose Index which penalizes high adult body weight is closer to the mark.

Admittedly that is somewhat different to a “feed saved index”, but it seems preferable to our present Lambplan Index which encourages “the biggest is best” syndrome.


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