Fleckvieh Europe: together even stronger
The enthusiasm for Fleckvieh breeding is omnipresent not only in our country, but also in our neighbouring countries in Europe. It therefore makes sense to exchange ideas on topics for constructive cooperation and the development and application of new methods. The European Conformation Group therefore meets annually in order to further harmonise Fleckvieh breeding in the countries with the aim of bringing the populations together as far as possible.
At this year's meeting, Slovakia was the host country for the first time and provided the best conditions both for the presentation of the expert contributions and for the practical exercises. As a kind of basic information, the state of the use of spot scores was reported from the countries. Dr. Krogmeier pointed out how the evaluation results have developed in the countries of the common breeding value assessment. The regular training of the classifiers and the clearly defined guidelines for the application of spot scores have led to a very good agreement between the partners in recent years (see Figure 1). This ensures the prerequisite for a uniform data basis and the cross-national exchange of sires enables reliable breeding values. Other countries are already preparing to join our breeding value estimation system with a great deal of commitment.
The aim of the exterior evaluation is also to test new characteristics for their suitability for practical use time and again. Since the area of claw health is becoming more and more important, it is worth considering whether additional information can be provided in addition to the claw dress characteristic. Over a longer period of time, the claw angle was therefore described linearly in Germany and Austria. The results, evaluated and presented by Dr. Krogmeier, show only a low hertitability. In addition, there is a high correlation to the feet and legs traits. Therefore, no further recording is made.
Further points were milking behaviour and evaluations of the overall score. The milking behaviour was redefined and is recorded on a 4-level scale in Germany and Austria. All countries were recommended to adopt the scale, as in the foreseeable future an estimation of the breeding value of milking behaviour will become the standard. The currently not yet published total score of exterieur shows a close relationship to the service life. A breeding value estimate for total score is available.
An essential part of the meeting of the country representatives is the practical part. The participants had to evaluate six cows via the online application for Fleckscore. The Polnohospodarske farm (250 Fleckvieh cows) provided the best conditions for this. The results were compared on the basis of a standard evaluation. Individual deviations were discussed in a debriefing at the cows.
The summary: the journey for the participants from nine countries was successful and valuable. Fleckvieh in Europe must continue to cooperate in the future. Finally, the colleagues from Slovakia were praised for the very good preparation. Next year, Bavaria will be the host country.