national breeding objectives

Dairy National Breeding Objectives

AbacusBio has been responsible for the development and implementation of a new economic index for the dairy industry’s national breeding objectives (NBO), managed by NZ Animal Evaluation Ltd (NZAEL).

The NBO underpins genetic improvement of the NZ dairy herd as a whole, which is estimated at contributing $310 million per annum to the dairy industry.[1]  Targeting the efficient conversion of feed into farmer profit, the NBO currently encompasses seven genetic traits contributing to production, cost, product quality and animal fitness.  

AbacusBio was commissioned in 2012 to update the NBO’s economic model for analysis and weighting of traits. Overseen by Peter Amer, with a team that included Bruno Santos, Tim Byrne and Peter O’Neill, the NBO project required a farm model that reflected both current NZ dairy farm practice and international best practice.  It also needed to incorporate the most recent economic information available, seasonal variations in feed cost, as well as new lactation curves for different fertility genotypes and adjusted survival assumptions.

There was a need for the model to be easily understood and flexible enough to allow for the addition and modification of traits as new data emerged across differing production systems.

Citing AbacusBio’s experience, capability and independence, as well as their extensive international experience in economic indexes for breeding schemes, DairyNZ entrusted AbacusBio with the development and design of the new model, which was peer reviewed internationally and then approved by NZAEL in early 2013.


[1]  (Amer, 2012, Cost Benefit Implications of a New National Breeding Objective for the New Zealand Dairy Industry. Report to NZAEL