This August’s genetic evaluations will feature an updated Net Merit (NM$) index. According to the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding, the traits that will be added to the index include Feed Saved and Heifer Livability.
While Heifer Livability is also important, Feed Saved represents the biggest advancement. Feed Saved will allow producers to breed for more feed-efficient cows, improve dairy sustainability, and save on feed costs, the largest expense item on most U.S. dairies, according to Joao Durr in his article, “Two new genetic traits coming in December. Due to the extensive costs associated with gathering data to calculate Feed Saved, the trait will only be available in the Holstein breed for the time being.
Last revision took place in 2018
Three years have passed since NM$ underwent an update. At that time, Heifer Conception Rate, Cow Conception Rate, Cow Livability, and a Health Trait subindex were all added to NM$.
The Net Merit index was first introduced in 1994. It has since undergone revisions in 2000, 2003, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2017, and 2018.
As for the weightings in the new Net Merit formula . . . those will be available soon.