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More and more of New Zealand’s beef is now coming from the dairy sector through beef cross calves. Increasingly, traditional beef breeding land is being converted to dairying use.



This presents challenges for the Dairy Industry to use breeding animals that fit both dairy and beef purposes. Dairy farmers have always had to be careful with the type of bulls they use because of the varying genetic strains in any beef breed.

In response to this, the New Zealand Shorthorn Association, in conjunction with Meat & Wool NZ, has developed a Selection Index making it simpler to identify Shorthorn bulls ideally suitable for dairy mating.

The new Calving Ease-Dairy Index takes into account the two main Estimated Breeding Values (EBV’s) of Birthweight (BW) and Gestation length (GL). EBV’s predict an animal’s genetic merit, based on it and its relative’s performance information.

The Calving Ease-Dairy Index complements the Shorthorn Maternal Export Index the Association has already developed.

How Does It Work?

The Calving Ease- Dairy index estimates the genetic differences between animals, in net profitability per cow joined, for a commercial dairy herd using Shorthorn bulls to breed steers and heifers for turning off at 20 months of age.

The index value reflects the short-term profit generated by a sire through the sale of his progeny and the longer-term profit generated by his daughters, in a self replacing cowherd (where applicable).

There is a strong emphasis on calving ease, while finishing steers at around 520kg live weight (280kg carcass weight) using a pasture-based production system.

New Zealand farmers have already found that Shorthorn/Friesian cross cattle generally have a good sized frame which allows them to reach good weights, and that Shorthorn cattle are always early maturing.

Well grown 15-16 month Shorthorn bulls are well capable of handling most dairy herds as long as they are treated with the consideration and stockmanship due to any young bull.

The Calving Ease-Dairy Index has indicated a large numbers of suitably indexed Purebred Shorthorn bulls are available within New Zealand.

For further information, please contact:

Judy Austin, New Zealand Shorthorn Association President.

Ph 03 685 5856