EBI – Delivering for the Irish Dairy Industry

Farmers need a livestock breeding and selection tool that focuses on profitability. The Irish based Economic Breeding Index does just that. The Economic Breeding Index (EBI) is an estimate of the economic value of its genetics.

It is comprised of six components, and for Irish and UK block calving systems, the two most important are the milk and fertility sub-indexes. Validation work carried out by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and Moorepark Dairy Research Centre predicts that a €1 increase in EBI will realise a €2 increase in profit per cow per lactation.

So let’s put it into context. The national EBI average for Irish herds is currently €140. Validation work thus suggests that such herds show €280 more profit per cow per lactation. Take it to another level, the top 10% of cows have an EBI of €196 or more which means that an additional €392 more profit per lactation can be expected.

The gain in genetic merit has not happened by chance. It is a result of the dairy industry coming together, through ICBF, to establish a collaborative and now world renowned system with profit at its core. The most notable contribution has been from the dairy farmers themselves, diligently recording data in turn used in the complication of the indexes. It is these same dairy farmers who are now reaping the rewards. Farmers in Ireland, UK and beyond who are new to the system, also have the opportunity to gain from the index. Purchase of high EBI Irish stock can catapult their genetics into this new era and fast track their move to a resilient dairy system with higher profit.

Grasstec Livestock Services now have listings of dairy herd replacements with average EBI of up to €230 with individual EBI up to €290.  This in turn looks to realise additional profit of €460 per cow per lactation. If looking to increase herd size or establish a new herd – you need to consider EBI as part of the selection process. In this era of milk price volatility, can you afford not to?