Sir, – I would like to say how much I enjoy John Elliot’s regular Farmer’s View contributions in your publication. I really value his willingness to share his vast experience and knowledge of cattle breeding and performance recording over many years throughout the world.

I would, however, like to follow up on a couple of points he raised in his article in the March 2 issue entitled ‘Weighing in with an argument for accuracy’.

Firstly, following the recent Stirling Aberdeen-Angus and Carlisle Limousin bull sales, John examined the results to see if there was any correlation between calving ease EBVs and the sale price of the bulls. He concluded that there was none.

I would like to point out that this was certainly not the case with the Charolais bulls at Stirling. The statistics for every sale since October, 2015, show that buyers are actively selecting Charolais bulls with favourable calving ease EBVs, the recent sale in February being the perfect example, with the Charolais breed once again selling the most bulls and returning the highest clearance rate.

Below are the average prices achieved in relation to calving ease direct EBV:

* Bulls in the Top 10% CEd – 7300gns with 100% clearance;

* Between 0 and top 10% CEd – 6100gns with 85% clearance;

* Between 0 and bottom 20% CEd – 5300gns with 78% clearance;

* Bulls in the Bottom 20% CEd – 4400gns with 63% clearance.

Commercial producers are recognising that Charolais sired animals are outselling other breeds for their age at every stage and are looking to benefit from the great strides that breeders have made to provide the easier calving bulls that they are seeking. Significant improvement has been made in calving ease since 2007, when the Breedplan genetic evaluation system was introduced, whilst maintaining performance with 200 day and 400 day growth rates up by 4kg and 8kg, respectively.

Secondly, it was good to see two of the great statesmen of the Charolais breed, Tony Harman and Ralph Needham quoted, and I would wholeheartedly endorse the essence of the article which is the need for accuracy in recording of birth dates, weights etc.

However, I would challenge Mr Elliot’s statement that 'some of the breed societies have abrogated their responsibility in bringing the errant to book. An exception has been the British Limousin Cattle Society'. The British Charolais Cattle Society rewrote it’s constitution a number years ago to address the very concerns raised in the article, a number of robust parameters and criteria were set in place and any breeder with cattle that fall outside of these criteria will receive an inspection with strict sanctions imposed if any wrongdoing is discovered.

Every 100th calf registered also triggers an inspection and during 2018 the society inspected 209 animals, more than any other breed society. To further underpin the integrity of the breed we have also recently introduced a programme of DNA testing all breeding females coming into the herd book.

We believe that anyone buying a modern, easy calving, Breedplan recorded Charolais bull can have complete confidence that he will do ‘exactly as it says on the tin.’

Chris Curry

Chairman, the British Charolais Cattle Society.