Professional training at a high level in Bella Italia

The latest meeting of the conformation working group of the European Simmental Federation (EFF) was held in Italy in April 2024. The Italian national association ANAPRI chose the La Fattoria farm in Pavia di Udine in the Friuli region as the venue. The farm, with its associated restaurant and direct marketing, offered ideal conditions for the combination of practical training and professional development.

The aim of this working group is, on the one hand, to harmonize the linear description of Fleckvieh throughout Europe using Fleck Score and, on the other hand, to provide professional training for the country representatives on breeding topics.

Great interest

The new head of the working group, Reinhard Pfleger, was able to welcome representatives from a total of 13 EVF member countries to this year’s meeting. This meant that interest in this further training event was greater than ever before, which can be seen as a clear commitment by the countries to breeding cooperation within the European association.

Experten aus 13 Ländern trafen sich zum Austausch in Italien

Experts from 13 countries met to exchange ideas in Italy

Focus on practice

The first day was dedicated to the practical application of Fleck Score for the linear description of Fleckvieh cows in the La Fattoria barn. The participants’ evaluations were analyzed using the newly created Fleck School evaluation program, which is integrated into the online tool Using a station operation, the participants were able to discuss their deviations from the reference assessment with the chief assessors from Germany and Austria and thus adjust their eye.

Praxiseinheit im Stall von La Fattoria

Practical session in the stables of La Fattoria

Farewell to deserving employees

At the invitation of ANAPRI, the participants were able to enjoy an evening full of Italian joie de vivre in the stylish La Monastero restaurant. The evening of good conversation and valuable exchange provided a worthy setting to thank deserving members of the Exterieur working group for their many years of support due to upcoming retirements. Dr Dieter Krogmeier is retiring after more than 24 years of service at the LfL. For many years, he was responsible for the well-functioning ZWS Exterieur and provided many well-founded analyses on the subject of conformation, which were an important basis for decision-makers. Gebhard Kitzmüller, who enriched many meetings of the working group with his experience in practical assessment, was also bid farewell.

Ehrung Dr. Dieter Krogmeier

Ehrung Ing. Gebhard Kitzmüller

Dr Dieter Krogmeier and Gebhard Kitzmüller in the circle of EVF managers

High-calibre speakers

The second day focussed on further training with a series of specialist presentations. Dr Lorenzo Degano presented the breeding programme for Fleckvieh in Italy. Dr Dieter Krogmeier gave an overview of the status of linear description in Fleckvieh in the countries affiliated to the ZWS. In 2023, a total of 102,817 young cows were linearly described. Dr Krogmeier analysed the developments of the main scores for frame, muscularity, feet & legs and udder and their differences in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy. The main lecture of the day was entitled “Fleck Score – analysing a success story”. In it, Dr Krogmeier analysed the influence of individual and main traits as well as the assigned faults on the lifespan of cows. At the same time, he provided information on the genetic trends in the individual conformation traits. Interesting insights were also gained by analysing the development of extreme traits such as hock angle, hock expression or teat length, thickness, placement and position. Dr Krogmeier’s remarks were complemented by Hubert Anzenberger, who presented current phenotypic developments in the Bavarian Fleckvieh population. The latest analyses are also particularly promising, proving that the new restrictions introduced in the Fleck Score formula in October 2023 are having the desired effect. The aim is to reduce the total udder score and the resulting breeding value for udders for those bulls whose daughters show a clear tendency towards very short and thin teats in the linear description as well as the undesirable combination of narrow teat placement and position at the rear.

Dr Christian Fürst’s presentation on the introduction of breeding value estimation for hoof health in Fleckvieh was also an enrichment of the meeting. He analysed the correlations between the individual foundation traits and the frequency of hoof diagnoses as well as the correlations between the new hoof health value KGW and other production and conformation traits.

Dr Hans Ertl informed the country representatives present about the current regulations on the international use of genomics in Fleckvieh. The new service unit GenoSelect was founded for this purpose, which will regulate the genomic testing of female and male candidates in the future. The clearly defined goal is to move as many EVF member countries as possible towards full membership with the delivery of phenotypes and genotypes in the milk, beef, fitness and conformation trait blocks.

Die Referenten des diesjährigen Treffens der AG Exterieur der EVF

The speakers at the meeting of the EVF Exterieur working group 2024

Country reports provide an overview

Finally, a representative from each of the 13 countries present reported on the current situation in the country with regard to conformation evaluation. This provided a good picture of the development of the Fleckvieh population in the individual countries. At the same time, wishes for the improvement of individual trait definitions and suggestions for the testing of possible new individual conformation traits were also put forward. The responsible members of the working group will analyse these suggestions and draw the necessary conclusions for the further development of the Fleck Score system.

Thanks and outlook

In a final feedback round, the country representatives clearly expressed the added value of participating in the meeting in Italy. Therefore, this year’s meeting of the EVF conformation working group can be considered an absolute success.

Finally, we would like to thank the EVF representatives, the on-site organiser ANAPRI Italy and the ASR and Fleckvieh Austria organisations for their support of the meeting.

The next meeting of the conformation working group of the EVF will take place in Austria.

Author: Ing. Reinhard Pfleger, Head of the conformation working group of the EVF
Photos: ANAPRI