TYPE CLASSIFICATION IN BRITISH SIMMENTAL
The BSCS runs a voluntary Female Classification scheme which is carried out by Holstein UK. The scheme allows herds of all sizes to be independently evaluated on their breeding females which adds value to the decisions on which females to retain, and from what cow lines to retain females from.
In addition to the use of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs), to indicate the breeding potential of pedigree stock, the Simmental Female Classification is a further tool to score important commercially relevant pedigree and functional traits, in breeding females.
- Members have the option to classify their complete herd or start with heifers, with all animals requiring to be in milk at the time of classification. The assessment is broken into four categories, Body conformation, Beef character, Legs and feet and Mammary, resulting in an overall score for the female ranging from poor to excellent.
- The data is uploaded on to the ABRI data base and Classification scores added to pencards and pedigrees within sale catalogues.
- The minimum cost is £108 + VAT (includes 15 inspections), 16th to 100th inspection £7.21 + VAT per inspection, 101st – 150th inspection £3.61 + VAT per inspection, 151 animals plus £2.58 + VAT
- if you would like to classify your females then please contact the Society office at email@example.com or on 02476 696513
Meurig James, the Head of NBDC, outlines the background and benefits of Type Classification and why he feels it is a management tool for breeding more profitable long-living cows.
Type Classification was set up over 50 years ago in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of dairy cows. Although British Friesians were the first breed to be classified, all the other dairy breeds soon followed with nearly identical systems scoring similar traits.
The classification scheme has been a success story over many decades and has made a tremendous contribution to the improvement of herds both on type and production not only throughout the UK but throughout the world.
Some 5 or 6 years ago, certain individuals involved in the breeding of both dairy and beef cattle thought that if classification had worked so well in the dairy world then why couldn’t this be the case with beef cattle.
Beef Shorthorns were the first beef breed to be scored closely followed by the Simmentals, and we now classify a total of 9 beef breeds which soon could become 12, alongside 8 dairy breeds which may become 9, and of the 21 only 3 or 4 would be dual-purpose breeds.
When scoring suckler cows we break them down into 4 main boxes and their weighting of the final score
- Body Conformation which makes up 25% of the final score
- Beef Character which also takes into account Breed Character and also makes up 25% of the final score
- Legs + Feet this is important and has a weighting of 30% of the final score
- Mammary has a weighting of 20% of the final score
These 4 composite boxes are made up of different Linear Traits which are measured on a 1 to 9 scale. Breeders and farmers simply need to remember that the 4 composite boxes are never scored in the high eighties and over ninety unless the linear traits are fairly close to ideal.
Whereas so many indexes are a prediction, classification is actual and I believe that is why they both work well together as a management tool for breeding more profitable long-living cows.
One of the many benefits of classification is when buying a future Stock Bull at a Society Sale, a particularly important task, the buyer can see the classification of the mother and sometimes 3 or 4 generations. I personally believe that the cow family needs to be at least in the high VG’s which means the high eighties, and into EX which means 90 and above. If you have a problem in your herd for example with legs + feet, then you need a bull from a cow family with a high score well over 90 in legs + feet to improve them, not a bull from a cow that has a high score in the 3 other boxes but perhaps VG 88 in Legs + Feet. Whereas if you have really good legs + feet in your herd and need to improve udders then that particular bull may be ideal.
Some of the other benefits include identifying the best females in your herds to breed replacements and of course cows that are scored the highest points more often than not make the highest prices at sales if you sell them.
Another strength of the classification system is that we can always change the traits we score and change the weightings of the composite boxes if the need arises so that we continue improving the herd if certain new weaknesses creep into the breed.
The Simmental is an exceptional good suckler cow with great temperament and always does her calf well because the breed is noted for having plenty of milk which means that whether you breed them pure or cross them with other breeds the story will be a success.
Head of NBDC.