Why Performance Record

According to Beef Shorthorn Cattle Society breed development chairman, Carey Coombs

Carey Coombs

Carey Coombs

Performance recording is a tool available to all Society members to help you make more careful selection decisions, and in turn to assist you to market your stock.

Performance recorded data is becoming increasingly important to cattle buyers - both pedigree and commercial at bull sales and over the farm gate. The data is managed by the Society’s performance recording register, Breedplan and specific trait values are reflected in Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs).

In addition to EBVs for specific traits, two indexes are currently available, a terminal index and a self-replacing index. These are estimates of differences in economic value for cattle when used for specific roles; as a terminal sire in a cross-bred herd or in a self-contained pure-bred herd.

The Society is in final stages of development of a maternal index, which is designed to rank cattle in herds that wish to place a particular emphasis on breeding high performance suckler cows either as cross-breds or as pure-breds.

EBVs help in selection making decisions by

  • taking in to account the performance of the bull’s relatives as well as his own performance

  • allowing you to compare bulls on the basis of how they will breed, rather than how they have been fed

  • accurately estimating progeny performance for specific traits and to predict the outcome of breeding programmes

  • identifying genetic differences for ‘hard to see’ traits such as milk and marbling

  • reporting differences in the units of commercial value, for example carcase weight and retail beef yield

Whilst prospect buyers still place importance on the animal’s looks, they are realising that they require the back up of an evidence base provided by the performance data.

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The follow price trends realised at Stirling bull sale, February 2018 reflect the value of performance recording.

Performance recording costs are very reasonable at £150 which includes the first five breeding cows, and thereafter £3 per cow. Scanning costs approximately £150 per visit which includes up to 25 animals.

How to get started

  • Record all young stock, both bulls and heifers - the good, bad and indifferent

  • Record cow weights at weaning

  • Weigh record at birth, 200 days and 400 days

  • Scan at 12 to 15 months

  • Input the above data in to a Breedplan spreadsheet and issue to Pedigree Cattle Services


What the breeders say

Simon Farmer, Longfield herd

Simon Farmer, Longfield herd

“Performance recording has always played its part in my 40 years of rearing stock. Running 200 cows there is always something to document on their health and performance for future reference, consequently all forms of stock benefit from collecting their respective performance details to establish the front runners and those left behind. When weighed up against their siblings, it is evident which animals perform under those given conditions in what is a contemporary comparison group. This is the simple base for performance recording; it expresses the information recorded - weights, calving interval, muscle deep and fat levels, that are not visible to the stockman’s eye. As a stockman, you can choose your beast for breed character, balance, locomotion, style and colour. Blend the two together and you have a winner.”

Simon Farmer
Longfield herd: Stanford in the Vale, Oxon

John Scott, Fearn herd

John Scott, Fearn herd

“We have been recording our Beef Shorthorns at Fearn for the past 20 years, it’s been a very useful addition to the tool kit which we use when selecting potential herd sires; we produce bulls for commercial and stud markets, most of which are sold at home on a mainly forage based diet. Our customers insist upon figures, they use them to select bulls which will suit their breeding objectives. Without them we would find ourselves at a disadvantage and in the modern era, if you’re on the back foot you will not survive.”

John Scott
Fearn herd: Tain, Ross-Shire

“Performance recording data is really useful helping us in our selection decisions. Milk is the most important EBV, followed by ease of calving and then maternal weight to enable us to breed a cow that is suited to our ground. We farm an LFA unit running between 600’ and 1,000’ with a lot of rough grazing. We want a middle of the road cow - 600kg to 650kg with a good vessel and legs to last on the hill and winter either outdoors or on a pure silage diet.”

John Redpath
Knowehead herd: Alyth, Perthshire