In what is an industry first for the UK, the British Limousin Cattle Society has announced its intention to introduce a temperament scoring system that will, in time, provide an Estimated Breeding Value for Docility in pedigree Limousin cattle in the UK.
Since importation to the UK in 1971, the Limousin breed has made tremendous progress in improving temperament. Responding to market forces, Limousin breeders across the country have selected rigorously to provide breeding stock that maintain their natural advantages in calving ease, fertility, growth, killing out and meat yield but that are also of a better disposition than ever before. The Society believes that this ongoing breeder selection has played a significant part in the breed attaining 35% market share of beef sired cattle in the UK and a dominant industry position.
Commenting, BLCS Technical Chairman, Jim Bloom said, “Commercial bull buyers focus in on ease of calving and good temperament as essential requirements. This is in part reflective of the fact that less labour on farms has been an industry trend over the last ten years. I have no doubt that the breed would not have attained its present position if it had not provided the market place with continual quality and quieter cattle.”
As well as improved ease of management, improved docility is also linked directly with higher weight gains and better meat quality.
In making this decision, the Society has carefully considered the docility scoring systems introduced successfully in major Limousin populations in North America, Australasia and Europe. In these populations, Docility EBVs have helped breeders drive selection and identify and remove problem animals. Rapid genetic progress has been possible given the strong heritability of 0.40 estimated for the Limousin breed. Agreement has also been reached with MLC/Signet and SAC who have agreed to introduce an EBV for Docility specifically for the Limousin breed. In the first instance, the EBV will be ‘stand-alone’ and will not be included in the overall Beef Value Index.
Scoring system details will be circulated to recording breeders within the next three months and scores collected thereafter. The most popular scoring system sees scores range from 1 to 5, where 1 represents the calmest, most docile temperament and 5 is the most aggressive. Animals will be scored in a cattle crush system with scores being collected from animals approximately two months after weaning.
Jim Bloom says that this is another ground-breaking initiative for the large population of pedigree Limousin cattle in the UK. “This is a hugely positive and significant step for the Society and its breeders to take. It is a selection tool that will quickly bring great additional benefit to our very focused breeders. It also confidently says to our customer base that we are driving on with breed improvement and are committed to the commercial sector of the beef industry, providing quality, easy care genetics to commercial users of Limousin cattle.”
The announcement is the second major technical initiative from the Society following their decision to commit £100,000 over four years in a Limousin Herd Health initiative.