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23 April 2003

Reader’s Enquiry about Breedplan

(Filed 23 April 2003)


E-mail received 22 April 2003

Who do we contact if we wish to use breedplan to record cattle weights etc in the UK? -




Land-Care Reply 23 April 2003

23rd April 2003

Hi Jen

Thank you for your e-mail re Breedplan. To my mind Breedplan offers a much better way of grading cattle than EBV's, because Breedplan has the consumer in mind - not just how much how much beef can be got out of an animal.

As shown on the Land-Care website (Science Section) Brian Sundstrom is the key man (based in Australia). He gave a seminar last autumn at Edinburgh. The Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society were showing a lot of interest, but they seem to have delayed doing anything until other societies decided what they wanted to do.

At the Beef 2003 event coming up next month I understand that the American Breeding programme is going to be presented or discussed. This is likely to cause further confusion and delay. In a recent article by Robert Groom in Land-Care (Science Section 9th April 03) he refers to the American system. He was a well known AA cattle breeder in Scotland, but emigrated to the States in 1998 and has since gone from strength to strength, using forward thinking breeding technology. We are still stuck in the UK with the stultifying thinking of MLC/Signet geared for commodity beef that has little future in the UK.

I believe it is easy enough to register with Breedplan, but the present difficulty as I understand it is that there are few people (I believe none in Scotland) who are trained and accredited by Breedplan to scan for marbling - an important aspect of the Breedplan grading system (and rightly so). It needs a bigger scanning head on the machine than what is needed for EBV and this is expensive. For new people to get qualified (even just for EBV type scanning) it is prohibitively expensive, unless they are vets (due to government regulations). But vets are seldom the best scanners for muscle in cattle as they do not generally do enough of it. What is needed is for say a couple of breed societies to switch over to Breedplan to create enough demand to make such a scanning service economically viable.

Breedplan can be adapted to any breed.

What is needed is pressure from within breed societies to adopt the Breedplan way of doing things (or the American System). But to make up their minds soon and get on with it (or the American System)

Personally I am disappointed by the delays and procrastinations of the AA Cattle Society who should have a lot to gain by leaving EBV and going to Breedplan. I would have thought the same would be true for Herefords.

Brian Sundstrom's e-mail address is


Again thanks for your enquiry. I would be pleased to hear further from you as to your thinking as to what breeding programmes should be in the UK.



Dr James Irvine
Editor: www.land-care.org.uk
E-mail: editor@land-care.org.uk


Further Reading Recommended by Land-Care

Sundstrom, Brian (2002). Breedplan - Australian Based International Beef Cattle Genetic Evolution Programme.
(Filed 2002, www.land-care.org.uk, click here to view).

Groom, Robert (2003). Letter from America by Expatriate Scot.
(Filed 9 April 2003, www.land-care.org.uk, click here to view).

Hammack, Stephen P. and Paschal, Joe C. Expected Progeny Difference (EPD) in Beef Cattle. The Texas A&M University System. (Download PDF).