The commercial beef value (CBV) is an index to help determine the value that an animal will leave for you on your farm. It gives you an insight into the genetic merit of that animal and helps the purchasing farmer make a more informed decision when buying animals.

It is essentially the terminal index less the calving traits (calving difficulty, gestation and mortality). The CBV is available on all commercial suckler males and uncalved females, dairy males and dairy x beef males and un-calved females.

Average CBV suckler-born progeny are around €250, dairy beef progeny are around €80, while the average dairy x dairy progeny are back at €2. Table 2 outlines the breed percentiles for calves born from beef sires and dairy dams in 2023, and gives calf purchasers a goo yard stick on which to target purchases in 2024. If calf purchasers use this index in their calf purchasing plans, it will hopefully send a signal to dairy farmers to breed high-CBV calves through using high Dairy Beef Index (DBI) bulls on their dairy cows.

It should also mean that dairy farmers target their matings of high-DBI bulls to match cows with low beef traits to make sure that CBVs are kept high and avoid any very low CBV calves.

Is it working?

Table 1 outlines some interesting work carried out by ICBF on Aberdeen Angus male progeny that have been slaughtered in 2023. The dataset includes over 90,000 Aberdeen Angus male calves ranked from one to 10 in terms of CBV band. The top CBV in the group was €242, while the lowest is €-90. The relationship between the CBV and the slaughter results are very encouraging, with a difference of €326 between the top 10% and the bottom 10%.

Finishing value and revenue is one thing, but how much its costs to get there is also important and the days to finish are also a lot less for the high-CBV calves. The difference between the top and bottom 10% is 37 days early finishing for the high-CBV calves.

While the benefits are clear, there isn’t as big a difference at calf price, with €58/calf between the top 10% and bottom 10%. Paying an extra €58 at the calf stage to achieve an extra €326 at the finishing stage, 37 days earlier than the low-CBV calves, makes sense and it will be interesting to see how buyers use this information.