VIDEO: Dairy Beef Index - everything you need to know


The Dairy Beef Index (DBI) is a breeding tool developed by Teagasc and ICBF which was launched in 2019.

Brendan Garry and John Conroy, Teagasc Mayo give an overview of the DBI and outline the benefits to dairy farmers and beef farmers.

What is the Dairy Beef Index (DBI)?

The dairy beef index (DBI) is a breeding tool which was launched by the ICBF and Teagasc in January 2019, and its primary objective is to improve the quality of beef animals produced from the dairy herd.

Aim of the Index?

The DBI aims to create a more saleable calf while having minimal impact on the dairy cows calving performance while also producing a more profitable beef animal.

Beef bulls to be used on dairy cows and heifers are ranked on a number of different traits. 49% of the DBI is emphasised on calving traits such as calving difficulty and gestation length, which are important to the dairy farmer, while the remaining 51% is emphasised on beef traits such as carcass weight which are more important to the beef farmer.

How is it measured?

The dairy beef index is measured in Euros, and for every €1 increase on the DBI is equal to a €1 increase in profit over the average Holstein-Friesian bull. This Euro value is also presented on a star rating system with a 1-star animal being regarded as very poor (bull is in the worst 20% of animals), with a 5-star animal being regarded as a very good (bull is in the best 20% of animals).

Benefits for Beef farmers.

The main benefits for beef farmers from the DBI are that it selects for higher carcass weight and conformation. It selects to ensure that more animals meet factory specifications. It recognises that some breeds are paid a premium at slaughter while also selecting for reduced feed intake along with quieter and polled cattle.

Benefits for the Dairy farmers

By using the DBI, dairy farmers will be producing a more saleable calf that is still easy calving and which also shortens the gestation length.

This animal will kill out at heavier carcass weights while still achieving an improved carcass conformation. This will result in improved returns for the beef farmer which should mean the dairy farmer will get repeat customers for their calves in future years which benefits the overall industry.

In conclusion, the Dairy Beef Index can be described as a mutually beneficial solution for both dairy and beef farmers and should be highly considered this breeding season.

A list of the top beef bulls on the dairy beef index is available on the ICBF website and for more information on the DBI please visit the Teagasc website or contact your local Teagasc advisor.

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