During the April index run, CRV will introduce the new breeding value ‘intelligence’. This will enable farmers to effectively breed with a focus on intelligent cows.
‘All farmers know there is a difference in intelligence between cows. Some cows learn new things much faster than others’, says Tonnie Vissers, herd management specialist at CRV. ‘Research has revealed that these differences are largely genetically determined. This means that intelligence can be targeted through breeding. The heritability is 38%, which is comparable to that of milk production.’
Benefits for farmers
‘Intelligent cows offer farmers many benefits’, Vissers explains. ‘Take the moment a heifer has her first calf. Now she has to learn how to be milked and how to operate the feed dispenser.’ Vissers sees even more benefits in the future. ‘The development of the cow toilet can significantly reduce ammonia emissions. However, the cows will have to learn how to use the special toilet.’ Intelligence is an optimum trait. ‘What we don’t want is cows to become cleverer than farmers’, says Vissers. Practical experience will have to reveal where the optimum lies.
Relative breeding value
The breeding value intelligence is a relative index with an average of 100. A score above 100 represents higher than average intelligence and a score below 100 lower than average. An initial trial calculation suggests there are considerable differences between bulls. For example, the red-and-white Delta Smarty (see photo) ranks a breeding value of 112, while the black-and-white Delta Goofy scores no higher than 92. Thanks to his high breeding value for this trait, Delta Smarty will join our portfolio of bulls after the index run.
Bull dams wanted
As the intelligence trait has not been registered systematically in our management system, we do not have a clear enough picture of the availability of suitable dams. Do you have a cow with intellectual giftedness in you barn? Register her for genomic testing and who knows, maybe she will be lucky enough to join our breeding programme.
More information about breeding for intelligence and registration of bull dams can be found on this special web page.