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EBI rate of gain averaging €12.60/year

The rate of gain on EBI in our dairy herd is increasing year on year, gaining an average of €12.60/year over the last 10 years, according to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF).

This rate is among the best in the world and is balanced across both milk and fertility. Dr Andrew Cromie, ICBF, takes a look at the latest genetic trends in EBI.

AI bulls vs. stock bulls

ICBF report that progeny of AI bulls are €60 higher, in EBI terms, than progeny of stocks bulls. This is equivalent to €120/lactation and €540 over cow’s lifetime (average length of lactation for cows in Ireland is 4.5).

Holstein breeding programme

The Gene Ireland dairy programme is reported to be delivering for all breeds, in particular the Holstein breed, which is the largest programme. The Holstein breed was over €100 behind Jersey breed in the mid-2000s when the program started.

Nowadays, the Holstein Friesian breed is on par for females calving in 2020. “There is twice the rate of gain for the Holstein breed compared to other breeds. Genomics has been applied widely in the context of the Holstein breeding program.” 

GS bulls vs. DP bulls

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Progeny from young genomically (GS) selected bulls are €30 ahead of progeny of daughter proven (DP) bulls in EBI terms and this is consistent across all years. 

ICBF said that this finding is in line with expectation, as these bulls are around 3 years younger, which is equivalent to 3 years of genetic gain. The young genomically selected bulls are €70 ahead of stock bulls.

The cattle breeding information service advise that teams of high-EBI genomically selected bulls should be used in your breeding program this spring in order to maximise genetic gain.


ICBF has summarised its findings:

  • High rates of genetic gain are now being achieved on Irish dairy farms. ~€12/cow/year.
  • AI bred progeny are ~€60 ahead of stock bull progeny in EBI terms. Worth ~€540 in a cow’s lifetime.
  • Rate of gain is highest in the Holstein breed. This is a direct result of the impact of G€N€ IR€LAND breeding program, including the
    application of genomics.
  • Progeny from young GS bulls are consistently €30 ahead of DP bulls in terms of EBI.
  • Use teams of high EBI bulls in your dairy breeding program this Spring. Invariably, these will be AI-bred and young GS bulls.
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