The dairy herd at AFBI Hillsborough has recently been ranked second within the UK for Profitable Lifetime Index (£PLI).
The presence of the best available genetics within the research herd at Hillsborough ensures that the results obtained from research programmes within AFBI will be relevant to dairy herds on Northern Ireland farms over the next five to ten years.
Whilst the dairy industry adjusts to what will hopefully be a relatively short-term downturn in dairy commodity prices, investing in the best available genetics, as summarised within £PLI, is essential to ensure dairy herds have the foundation for a sustainable future.
The £PLI is a within-breed genetic ranking index which was developed for UK dairying conditions, and is expressed as a financial value. £PLI values are available for both sires and cows within a herd.
From a sire perspective, the Profitable Lifetime Index represents the additional profit a bull is expected to return from each of its milking daughters during that daughter’s lifetime, in comparison to a bull with a £PLI of zero.
The PLI was revised during August 2014, with the updated index having been designed to:
l Promote yield while protecting milk quality
l Have an increase emphasis on fertility
l Improve functional type (feet and legs and udders)
l Have an increased emphasis on longevity
l Reduce costs associated with maintenance
l Improve udder health
l Improve calving performance
The AFBI Hillsborough herd currently has an average PLI of £201 (based on 231 cows), compared to £246 for the first placed herd within the UK. The PLI of the Hillsborough herd reflects the sire selection criteria which have been adopted at Hillsborough in recent years. Sires are normally selected from the top 20 to 30 sires for £PLI and should have a reliability of over 75%, be positive for fertility, milk fat and milk protein percentage, lifespan and be negative for somatic cell count.
In addition to the overall herd position, six individual cows within the Hillsborough herd are ranked within the top 100 registered Holstein cows in the UK in terms of £PLI. The highest ranking cow is ranked at number 15 (Hillsborough Justice Annie: £467).
The other five have £PLI values of £447 (Hillsborough Justice Frances), £418 (Hillsborough Justice Marie and Hillsborough Justice Joanna) and £410 (Hillsborough Justice Buringa 2 and Hillsborough Ramos Marie).