The building blocks of effective breeding

Farming | Published:

Taking control of your breeding decisions is vitally important if you want to take full advantage of your farming system and milk contract.

Emily Collins, AHDB Dairy Knowledge Exchange Manager

Choices farmers make today about breeding will affect the herd performance for many generations to come.

Making the right selections now can have a huge positive impact whether your goal is increased production, higher levels of constituents or improved health and fertility, and therefore lower costs.

The first step is to understand your herd’s current status, and one way to do this is by using our Herd Genetic Report, available to all UK dairy farmers who fully milk record.

The report allows farmers to see the genetic potential of their herd and gives information for the cows registered on their farm such as yields, fat and protein levels, health traits and their financial impact – shown by £PLI, £ACI and £SCI.

While many farmers already make use of the reports, we want to make sure that everybody understands how to make the most of this information. And for those maybe less familiar with genetic indexes, we’ll explain how to get started.

Understanding your herd’s strengths and weaknesses and addressing them through better breeding can add real value to your business.

Our new Breeding Blocks campaign aims to ensure farmers are breeding the right cows to keep them competitive, both now and in the future.

We’re holding a series of half day events across the country which will highlight the key breeding tools farmers can use to ensure their herd’s genetics match their business requirements.


These practical workshops will help farmers evaluate the current status of their herd and shape its future by selecting the right sires to meet their breeding goals.

We’ll help farmers build a breeding strategy, taking them through key components including genetic indexes, herd genetics and on farm recording.

Using this information alongside the Herd Genetic Report can help identify positive and negative traits. We'll share top tips on sire selection and semen purchases at the workshops, as well as how best to review herd performance.

After the workshop farmers will be more confident in their medium and long-term breeding goals and how to achieve them.


We’ll also demonstrate our new online tools – the ‘Breeding Trait Selector’ which enables farmers to identify and prioritise the best genetic traits for their herd alongside a ‘Breeding Season Semen Calculator’ that works out a herd’s requirements for conventional, sexed and beef semen.

To book your place at our workshop in Shrewsbury on November 28, or for a list of our other workshops, visit

Emily Collins is AHDB Dairy knowledge exchange manager

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