British Charolais breeders respond to commercial demand Genetic improvement continues for calving ease and performance

“Official ultrasonic scanner Jim Barber assesses back fat and muscling”

“Official ultrasonic scanner Jim Barber assesses back fat and muscling”

British Charolais cattle breeders are continuing to respond to commercial producers’ demands to deliver bulls that leave not only efficient high performance progeny but ones that are easier to calve, according to the herdbook’s annual Breedplan report published January 2015.


The direct EBV Charolais calving ease has increased by 1.0% since 2007 when the breed society introduced theBreedplan genetic evaluation system, whilst the closely correlated gestation length EBV has reduced over the same period by 0.2 days. Furthermore, there has been a continual improvement for each performance trait. For example, 200 day and 400 day growth rates have increased by 3.7kg and 8.0kg respectively, eye muscle area by 0.5 cm2   and retail beef yield by 0.3%


Charolais Breedplan trends 2007/14



Estimated Breeding Value (EBV)


Direct (%)


200 day

400 day

600 day

Eye Muscle Area (cm2)

Retail Beef 
Yield (%)

Herdbook  ave








 Source: Breedplan


“Since the society implemented Breedplan, the system has enabledbreeders not only to continue to improve growth rate and carcase characteristics but also to tackle head on improving calving ease which was the flip side to some of the breed’s highest performing bulls,” says British Charolais Cattle Society chairman, Steve Nesbitt.


“The current genetic trends are a meaningful step forward towards fulfilling the society’s objective to supply the market with genetics that strike a balance between these key traits that are destined to make a significant contribution towards efficient profitable beef enterprises. We are confident that these trends will continue to gain momentum as more progeny come in to the system.”



Mr Nesbitt reports commercial producers are taking advantage of that accelerated genetic progress in their selection making decisions and rewarding breeders for their efforts. For example, at the breed society’s official sales in Stirling in February 2014, 81 bulls with a Terminal Index within the breed’s top 25% sold to average £7,188, while those in the bottom 25% levelled at £4,662. In addition, 31 bulls with a Calving Ease Direct EBV within the breed’s top 25% averaged £6,583 compared to those in the bottom 25% levelling at £5,640.”



He adds: Look out for each bull’s accompanying Breedplan data - on line, in sale catalogues and on pen cards. We recommend this information is taken in to account along with its accuracy and a visual assessment of the animal before making a selection decision.”



10 February 2015