Traits Other than Production (TOP) measure the physical attributes of dairy cattle. Farmers score animals for traits relating to their management at milking time and qualified inspectors score traits relating to the physical conformation of the animals. In addition to scores on individual traits, registered animals receive a classification award that categorises them based on the standard of conformation overall.
Objective of TOP
The main objective of the TOP system is to provide accurate and unbiased comparisons of cows and sires, thus providing herd owners with easy-to-use information. There are three main ways TOP inspections add value for herd owners:
- When all two year olds in the herd are inspected, breeding values for the TOP traits are fine-tuned for the individual animals resulting in a more accurate prediction for how the animal is expected to breed the trait concerned. This is like “herd testing” for conformation traits. The reliability for the breeding values increase when generations of two year olds are inspected over time.
- The raw scores for individual traits paint a picture of how the cow appears for each trait. This adds significant value for marketing the cow or her progeny, especially where the ancestry is also assessed. In addition to scores on individual traits, animals receives a classification award that categorises them based on the standard of conformation overall.
- TOP raw scores for individual traits contribute to sire proofs and the calculation of TOP BV’s for individual bulls. Specifically, information collected on two year old daughters of bulls also receiving their first production proof is vital industry good information.
Traits other than production
Traits scored by the herd owner:
- Adaptability to milking
- Shed temperament
- Milking speed
- Overall opinion
Traits scored by the herd inspector:
- Rump angle
- Rump width
- Udder support
- Front udder
- Rear udder
- Front teat placement
- Rear teat placement
- Udder overall
- Dairy conformation
- Condition score
Classification awards are given to all inmilk heifers and cows. To be eligible for classification awards, animals must be registered with Jersey New Zealand.
Classification is divided into the following categories:
EX – Excellent – E Age
VG – Very Good – V Age
GP – Good Plus – + Age
G – Good – G Age
When all two year olds are inspected in a member herd, the results are entered in the database and are used in Animal Evaluation to calculate breeding values for the traits. If a member chooses to select only a few two year olds to be inspected, the data is not used in Animal Evaluation and adds nothing to breeding values. Jersey NZ recommends that members inspect all two year olds to receive greater value from the service.
Inspection Service Options
The Tour option usually involves two classifiers from out of the area coming into a region to inspect all animals put up for classification. Spring calving herds are inspected during October, November and December and autumn calving herds are inspected as requested by the member. Tours happen once a year and are usually completed by 1 December in any given year.
With this option members can plan an inspection to work in better with the needs of their farm operation and is not restricted to tour times of the year.
Please note the following conditions for the personalised option:
- One or two (if applicable for larger herds) local Classifier/s will inspect your cattle (this inspector will be TOP certified and a Jersey NZ Classifier).
- Inspections must be carried out in suitable yards for drafting and be on concrete.
- All inspections are arranged between the inspector and the member as to when inspections suit.
- The herd owner or one staff member must be present during the inspections to assist with drafting etc.
This inspection option is offered in regions as set out in the application form.