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Beef cattle breeding in the Czech Republic

The Czech Beef Breeders Association (╚SCHMS) is the organisation authorised by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic to co-ordinate and organise a genetic selection program for all beef breeds reared in the Czech Republic. Since it was established in 1990, the ╚SCHMS's main objectives are primarily:
  • Performance recording certified by ICAR,
  • Exterior Linear Classification - scoring of young and adult animals,
  • Selection of young bulls for breeding at performance test stations (both for insemination and natural services bulls),
  • Estimation of Breeding Values (EBV's) (with the assistance of Institute of Animal Science) - national EBV's and Interbeef,
  • Keeping a Herd-Book for all beef breeds,
  • The promotion of beef cattle (shows, seminars), etc.
The ╚SCHMS operates throughout the Czech Republic and works closely with breeders of all beef breeds. Specific Breeders' Clubs have been established within ╚SCHMS. These Breeders' Clubs are totally independent in coordinating the breeding aims of a particular breed - they determine the selection program, breed standards and all other matters regarding their breed.

Main figures:

  • 25 beef breeds (the main ones are Charolais, Aberdeen Angus, Beef Simmental and Limousine)
  • About 225,000 suckler cows are kept in the Czech Republic
  • 25,000 cows are registered in various Herd Books and in the performance recording system.

Performance Recording - Basic Condition for Successful Breeding

The ╚SCHMS has facilitated the performance recording of beef cattle through its employees since 1990. Thanks to this service, a totally objective and unified system of data collection has been established. All future data processing is incorporated on their own computer database, the development of which allows a flexible response to accommodate both the needs of farmers and global trends in beef cattle breeding.

The system of performance recording is determined by a methodology that respects the recommendation of the International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR). The following growth and reproductive traits are observed and evaluated within the performance recording on farms:
  • Date of birth
  • Sex, parity
  • Calving ease and weight at birth
  • Weight at 120, 210 and 365 days
  • Linear scoring of young and adult animals (under a separate methodology)
  • Date of calving
  • Date of insemination, the use of ET
  • Use of bull in natural service
  • Information of polled / horn animals (for listed breeds)
  • Coloration and color type (for listed breeds)
  • Changes and movements in the central register
  • Animal labelling
  • Pedigree verification - sire and dam
  • Breed classification
The regular evaluation and analysis of the results at both farm and population level, are essential pre -requisites for successful breeding. Strict, but fair and objective criteria are the major factors of genetic progress that have been achieved in Czech beef cattle breeding within a short period.

System of Bull Testing - Guaranteed Selection of the Best Ones

The national system of testing bulls for breeding is carried out at privately owned, specialized performance testing stations (OPB - odchovna plemennřch břk¨), which must be approved by Ministry of Agricultural of the Czech republic, for that purpose. Only bulls from selected dams and sires can enter the performance test station.

The bull as well as his parents must fulfil the criteria of the selection program. Employees of the Czech Beef Breeders Association supervise that the bulls are bred and fattened according to the correct testing methods. They also measure and weigh the bulls before they enter the station, during the test and at the end of the test period. At the age of 13 months the test ends and a panel of breeders selects bulls on the basis of performance, breeding values, visual assessment and fulfilment of the breed standard.

The average daily gain during the test period is usually between 1600 - 1800 g (depending on the breed), in many cases this gain is even higher. Annually about 10000 bull-calves are born in the Czech republic: from them are selected about 2000 best bulls for natural service and insemination.

The objective of the testing stations is the rearing of young bulls under standard and unified conditions following examination of their own performance, to ensure that only the best bulls from the population are registered as AI- or stud bulls. This trial will identify commercial traits, feed consumption efficiency and most importantly, finally, a check on semen quality. All young bulls must fulfil specified minimum requirements before entering into the performance testing station, namely:-
  • Bull and his parents come from a farm involved in performance recording
  • Breeding Values of parents or of the bull are above a certain minimum standard (listed breeds)
  • Fulfil at least the minimum requirements for the growth parameters (weight at 120 and 210 days)
  • His pedigree is documented and certified by DNA testing (SNP)
Specific requirements depend on the breed. Bulls are entered into the performance testing station after weaning, with there being 4 batched reared per year. Nutrition is based on the feeding of roughage and concentrates according to nutritional need, depending on breed. The consumption of feed and nutrients is measured and recorded during the test.

Bulls are weighed several times within the test:
  • After their entrance into the rearing station
  • At the beginning of the preparative period
  • At the beginning of the own performance test (+ / - 3 days)
  • At the regular monthly intervals
  • At the end of the own performance test (+ / - 3 days)
Body measurements (height at hips) are gathered by measuring:
  • At the day of the beginning of the test
  • At the age of 365 days (+ / - 15 days)
  • At the date of termination of the test - scrotum girth
Basic selection takes place after the successful performance test. Bulls are classified and selected according to the selection criteria laid down by a committee of ╚SCHMS staff and farmers. They evaluate the following traits:
  • Fulfilment of the breeding standard
  • Relative Breeding Value for growth in the test
  • Weight at the age of 365 days
  • Height at hips at the end of the test
  • Type classification at basic selection
  • Average daily gain from the birth to the end of the own performance test
  • the Special attention is paid to the conformation of feet and legs
The sale of approved bulls is done by public auction, immediately following the basic selection.

The conditions for the entrance of a bull into the rearing station, the number of bulls on test, schedule of basic selections and auctions, and other details relating to bull testing are always available on the website of the Association.

Breeding Values - Modern Breeding Tool

The selection of the best individuals from the population is the objective of every breeding process. Czech farmers and breeders can rely on Breeding Values Estimations (EBV's) of 25 traits recorded since 2000. The BLUP Animal Model is used for this breeding value estimation, using not only data of the animal itself, but also data of its relatives. This leads to a complex (for random effects adjusted) view of the animal as an individual. The estimated breeding values are presented for three basic groups of traits: reproduction (calving ease and maternal calving process), growth traits (direct and indirect effects) and type traits. These particular traits are then used for the calculation of a total selection index, where the breeding and economic weight of each trait is included. Breeding values and selection indexes are regularly updated 4 times per year and they are available for all pure-bred animals on the website of the Association.

Since 2002 the breeding values have also been calculated as relative - indexes (mean = 100, one standard deviation = 10).

Exterior Classification

Linear Scoring is an important tool used to express the beef performance of an individual animal.

The description and type classification of all beef cattle breeds is unified in the Czech Republic. Of course, formulation of the point scale for individual traits is unique to each particular breed. The classification is done by trained classifiers (employees of ╚SCHMS), who are appointed by the appropriate certified breeding association. The description of particular type traits, the body measurements, defects and total score are used for further processing within the performance recording and progeny testing of beef cattle breeds.

The description represents the expression of a classified trait, with the range of points from 1 (minimum) to 10 (maximum), within the biological extremes of classified breed. The classifiers evaluate the described traits result from the average of the population of a classified breed. At the same time, they respect the maximum possible utilization of the whole point scale during the classification of this population and particular age categories.

Classified traits are divided into four main groups:

1. Conformation:
  • Body height at rump (real measurement)
  • Body length (visual check)
  • Body weight (real measurement)
2. Body Capacity:
  • Width of chest
  • Depth of chest
  • Length of pelvis
3. Muscularity:
  • Shoulder
  • Top line
  • Rump
4. Breeding Type - it includes the classification of the total sublimity of the animal, the balance of body conformation and the sex expression. The total score is expressed as the sum of all gained points for body frame, body capacity, muscularity and productive type (the maximum possible score is 100). The type defects, and other relevant traits, which are determined by the breeding programme of the classified breed, are recorded simultaneously with the description of the animal on the classification form. These programmes also determine which of those defects are crucial for the selection of animals.

Why should you choose the quality beef cattle from the Czech Republic?

  • The breeding of beef cattle in the Czech Republic had been entirely established on the basis of massive importations of superior genetics from the countries of origin of particular breeds.
  • The system of beef performance recording certified by ICAR provided by independent inspectors of the Czech Beef Breeders Association (╚SCHMS) ensures the maximum objectivity of data collection, following processing and evaluation.
  • The rules for the administration of Herd Books of particular breeds and the issuing of pedigree certificates conforms to the standards laid down by European regulations.
  • The strong selection pressure at different levels is a prerequisite for the choice of the best animals for further breeding.
  • The standardized and unified system of performance testing young breeding bulls, in the certified performance-test stations, guarantees the ultimate selection of bulls of the highest quality.
  • The routine estimation of Breeding Values for 25 traits and the progressive development of the estimation of other traits, are integral parts of the selection process on farms and throughout whole the population.
  • The very good animal health status of the CR (IBR, brucellosis, tuberculosis and leucosis free), within individual farms is a good precondition for achieving the highest of health standards.
  • Wide variation of natural and climatic conditions (50% of the land in the less favoured areas - LFA/ANC) leads to the development of as many types of beef cattle breeds possible, to suit local condition.
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