What is involved?
Classification & Linear scoring is a scientifically designed system that describes the conformation of an animal biologically on a scale of 1 – 9. It tries to give us a scalar picture of the animal without judgement. It is the road map for the breeder and dairy farmer in deciding on his sire selection as to the type of animal that suits his farming system. In Classification an overall final score category is attributed to each animal, eg: G (Good)-75 to 79 points GP (Good plus)- 8o to 84 points VG (very good)-85 to 89points, EX (Excellent)-90 to 97 points based on their conformation.
Classification Adds Value The classification score attaches to the ancestry of the animal on the pedigree certificate, populating the background and builds value over time as the trend in conformation can be seen at a glance. Every Breeder strives for straight three generation EX.
IHFA Breeding Goal is to breed profitable cows that are long living & durable that suit the dairy farmers system. Type classification helps with the breeding decision as it identifies bulls with the biological diversity to suit all systems. TYPE provides an independent unbiased analysis of animals conformation TYPE enhances breeding and marketing decisions TYPE Increased Cow Values TYPE improves herd quality
When should we classify?
We’ve just gone Pedigree. I would say straight away. You get a lot of information from the classification reports. But also the classifiers talk you through each and every cow they classify, letting you know the strength and weakness of the animals being presented. All heifers have to be scored as their information goes into the bull proofs. (Linear Scores)
How long does it take?
It varies from herd to herd, but usually 15 – 25 animals an hour, could be more or less. For a herd of 60 animals, the classifier would usually allow 3 hours.
What do we get back?
You get a number of reports, detailing every animal scored, showing the animals strengths and weakness. The Dairy Cow Report (DCR)identifies four key traits and gives a comparison within herds and across herds comparing the trait with breed average. The Primary traits identified are Overall Type, Overall Mammary, Feet & Legs and Dairy strength. Also another person looking at your animals can spot faults and strengths in the herd, sometimes before the member sees it. The animal values will also increase for cow selling or for disease valuation.
Are our cows too stale for Classification?
With the classification system putting more emphasis on strength and power, cows later in lactation are very much at an advantage. In fact fresh calved cows in the Spring are at a disadvantage, as fresh calved cows usually lose their rib and the young lush grass won’t do anything for that.
What’s the best time of day to classify?
Cows should be presented in their natural state. Anytime a few members stock animals full of milk for classification, the bottom line is they probably lose more points than gain as animals which are full of milk show every fault to a tee. The Classifiers are top quality cattle men and know how cows udder up.
Should we clip and wash the animals for classification?
No – Animals are to be presented in their natural state – again as before the classifiers are top quality show men and can see through hair and dirt on cows.
My Cows aren’t big enough?
Wrong – if the animal is good enough she is big enough. Size does not come into classification. We’re different to the show ring – what we look for is farmer friendly profitable milk cows.
We’re Spring Calving – there is no point in classifying in the Autumn?
Again we hear this a lot, but actually I would classify as often as I could for a number of reasons. 1. Time – it’s easier to sort out 20 or 30 animals at a time rather than 50 or 60. 2. It gives your animal every chance to achieve maximum score. 3. An animal might not be calved but could be potentially 5 or 6 generations VG or EX. Could be dry again next year and never get’s her rightful classification, so a hole is left in the pedigree, losing value to all her progeny for years to come. 4. Classifiers tend to spend more time with individual members in the Winter as we are not so busy and quite often a varied number of issues are discussed from building on the farm to animal health.
We’re having a sale, we’ve never classified – should we?
Always – it’s a great marketing tool as it let’s Auctioneers and potential customer for your sale see what you’ve got at a glance. One herd in particular keeps coming back into my mind on this, a herd in Westmeath – John Gatley’s “Cushla” herd. He had great cows and should have classified years before but at least did it before his dispersal sale. Members heard about this herd from the classification. One heifer that had been scored VG was purchased on the phone unseen and made Excellent 93 points for her news owners years later.
Do you classify every animal everytime?
No – many animals can be scored many times in a lifetime but animals can never be down scored. A very low scored animal, say Poor 60, may be walked straight through on a classification visit as most classifiers won’t move her for 1 or 2 points, but will move her a point if going up a grade (i.e. Poor 64 up to Fair 65 or GP84 to VG85)). Members have to get value for money spent and certainly classification is value for money. An animals classification score will outlast everyone.
Sire Advice- What bulls should I use?
We can offer Independent sire advice based on the IHFA Bull List and recommend a panel of bulls that will help improve the weakest trait identified on a herd or individual animal basis. We don’t promote any companies bulls, but what we will do is point out where we see the strengths and faults in the herd. We wish to expand the Linear and Classification service to all our members, please call the office for further details on our introductory offer.