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Weighing is not limited to youngstock, weigh all your cattle this autumn.

As we enter the autumn, and the weather is starting to turn and many of you will be thinking about preparing for the winter and getting jobs ticked off. Hopefully one near the top of the list is collecting weights of youngstock and cows. Providing weights for cows at weaning is important data, that will support on-going research and we hope lead to the development of an EBV for this trait.

Recording Cow Weights

Each year breeders can record the mature weight of their cows at weaning time, along with a body condition score (1 to 5) and management code. This trait is of importance in maternal breeds, where it may be desirable to limit increases in cow size, while continuing to enhance calf growth rates.

Cattle mature size has become an increasingly important topic of conversation, as the industry strives to increase efficiency and productivity. It is now more important than ever to utilise these tools available to manage your herd and record weight data. Keeping larger mature cows on can be extremely costly with increased maintenance requirement, lowering potential stocking density and increased nutritional requirements.

You cannot manage what you don’t measure.

Tips for recording accurate weights.

  1. Try to treat all your cattle the same – where different management groups exist code them clearly.
  2. Check your weigh scales – calibrate first!
  3. Weigh calves as close to the recommended weigh dates as possible, ideally calves should be weighed every 100 days.
  4. Weigh them all, with the odd exception of any calves in very poor health.

How can I submit data?

Data can be submitted in two ways, the first is online through the signet website via this link, selecting from the drop-down menu the type of weight record you are submitting.

Alternatively, if you are recording cattle weights on your own farm software, you can send in your data electronically to help reduce the workload and minimise the risk of error. To enter data in this way, the data needs to be sent across in the correct format. Find templates and guides on how to submit this data here. Alternatively video clips are available here.

With breed specific BLUP run deadlines looming there is no better time to get your weights added to the database.

Please get in touch with the team if you need any assistance [email protected]

How is this information used within the analysis?

To produce EBVs we use a statistical procedure called BLUP (Best Linear Unbiased Prediction) and this algorithm allows us to tease out genetic and non-genetic influences on the performance of an animal.

EBVs are calculated using information from several sources:

  • Measurements from the animal itself
  • Measurements from the animal’s herd mates (known as ‘contemporaries’)
  • Measurements from the animal’s relatives and their contemporaries
  • The degree to which one trait influences another (known as a ‘correlation’)
  • The degree to which each trait is passed on to the next generation (known as ‘heritability’)

Information is analysed on a “contemporary group basis”, comparing animals reared under the same management to identify differences in genetic potential. More information on contemporary groups can be found here.


About the author

Laura Eyles

Laura Eyles

Laura has joined the Signet team as a breeding specialist, she comes from an agricultural background having grown up on a sheep farm in Cornwall, where they keep commercial ewes and run a small flock of pedigree Charollais sheep.

Laura has a strong interest in animal breeding and genetics having studied Animal Science (BSc Hons) at Harper Adams University. During her time at Harper, she spent an industrial placement in Cumbria working for a sheep breeding company and some of our clients may recognise her from this role. Since graduating she has worked for a large cattle breeding company before joining us at Signet to lead on a number of Signet’s sheep breeding projects.