Understanding Breedplan

The following article was written by Ross Thompson in 2006, but a lot of the messages are still relevant today.


A young bull on the market in Australia is incapable of carrying high accuracy EBV’s (Estimated Breeding Values). The Breedplan system does not contain sufficient descendant performance information on young animals to produce high accuracy estimates for their breeding potential. So the EBV’s of every animal will change, often significantly, after purchase. However there are means of minimizing the potential changes for young sires. Herds that have been Breedplan recording for a long time with large contemporary groups will have enhanced EBV reliability in young animals. Furthermore, EBV data will be more dependable from herds where all eligible traits are routinely submitted for analysis, across the whole contemporary group (ie where culling is delayed until after scanning).

The standard Breedplan explanations presented in many sale catalogues provide little guide about the application of EBV’s to real life situations. Breedplan is an excellent aid to breeding cattle, but it is complex and often poorly understood.

EBV’s are no more than the best estimate of an animal’s genetic potential available at that point in time. Certainly they are better than having no guide at all, but there will never be any substitute for what the eye can see.

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