Discussions regarding recent changes to €uroStar beef breeding indices continue to dominate conversations among many suckler farmers and particularly those participating in the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP).

The firm focus on the changes has encouraged many farmers to check the €uroStar rating of their cows.

This practice has happened for the first time in a number of years for many farmers.

Feedback from farmers shows that many farmers were unaware that the star rating of their cows had changed, as under the Beef Data and Genomic Programme (BDGP) and now SCEP, the star rating a cow received when genotyped in a herd remained with that animal while in the herd.

As such, the first many farmers realised that there was significant changes in the star rating of certain cows was when they went looking to see what effect the recent changes to breeding indices had on the €uroStar value of animals.

Surprised

Some farmers were surprised to learn that certain older cows in particular have a lower star rating than displayed on the SCEP eligibility profile.

A review of the changes in many herds points to changes in breed percentiles being responsible for the star rating changes rather than changes to breeding indices.

This is due to the fact that the value required to denote a certain star rating has increased in recent years.

This is detailed in Table 1, which shows replacement index breed percentile changes over the last eight years.

As can be readily seen, a €urostar value of €74 in the August 2015 evaluation run was sufficient to award a four-star rating to a female, while in the latest November 2023 evaluation run, a €uroStar value of €102 is required to award a female a four-star rating.

This is not to say that breeding index changes or significant changes in a cow’s performance are not responsible, but it is worth taking into account when reviewing your herd profile.

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