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The Beef Cattle Herd Book SBCHB

Beef Cattle Switzerland is the service organization of Swiss suckler cow owners and beef cattle breeders. The organization currently has around 5,600 members with over 95,000 suckler cows.

The Herd Book (SBCHB) of Beef Cattle Switzerland was set up in 1980 and has been officially recognized by the Confederation since 1986. Thanks to the steadily growing number of suckler cow farms the SBCHB now lists around 1,100 herd book holdings. Most of the beef cattle breeds registered in Switzerland are represented.

At present 34 different breeds are represented in the SBCHB

Breeding objectives
The basic aim is to breed economically viable beef cattle fed on roughage. The detailed breed-specific breeding aims are laid down by the breed clubs.

The objectives of the SBCHB

  • To select the best cows and bulls and decide on the most promising mating pairs.
  • To make available to breeders, breed clubs and small-farm organizations the performance data of the breeding animals and their forbears and offspring.
  • To make it possible to compare breeding farms.
  • To improve individual characteristics with regard to the economic viability of beef cattle for breeding and fattening operations.

SBCHB services
The herd book is responsible for the collection and evaluation of performance and conformation traits and the requirements for entry into the herd book. Depending on the service module of a breed, different records are kept with regard to pedigree, performance characteristics and conformation.

Recognition of the SBCHB by ICAR
The Beef Cattle Herd Book is recognized by the Confederation and certified by ICAR since January 2010. ICAR stands for the International Committee for Animal Recording - an international committee which administers performance tests in the field of animal production. ICAR defines standards and guidelines. It checks that animal identification, data collection, data processing and genetic evaluation correctly reflect the pedigree and performance of the animals. This certification guarantees international recognition for Beef Cattle Switzerland’s beef cattle genetics. The ICAR quality label is displayed on every breeding identification card.

Strengths of beef cattle breeds

  • best suited for suckler cow husbandry
  • good fertility and calving ease
  • ideal build and solid limbs
  • robust and resistant
  • good juvenile development and longevity
  • good grazers with excellent roughage feed efficiency
  • superb meat to bone ratio
  • high quality meat
  • ideal for crossbreeding with production animals

Beef cattle performance check (FLEK), linear description (LB) and classification
The beef cattle performance check, the linear description and the genetic evaluation are designed to assess the typical and relevant aspects of suckler cow husbandry, respectively beef cattle breeding. All the cows on the herd book farms are subject to the FLEK, which records the weight gains of the calves and the reproduction data of the cows. The reproduction performance of the cows in suckler cow husbandry is just as important as the weight gain of the calves, but the sale of the young animals is the most important source of income. Correction factors applied to the FLEK evaluation make it possible to compare performance, with the result that breeders can assess the performance level of their animals and determine the decisive selection values.

The FLEK complies the following information:

  • the growth performance of the calves (weight at birth, daily weight gain, weaning weight)
  • the reproduction performance of the cows (fertility age, calving interval, birth process, productivity indicator)

The linear description of the bulls and cows makes it possible to select the best breeding animals, on the basis of more than 20 criteria. It provides information on performance characteristics such as muscular development, dimensions and bone structure, as well as on criteria for longevity such as limbs and pelvis, or breed criteria such as colour or hair.

Evaluation of breeding values (ZWS)
To indicate an animal’s genetic value, the following breeding values are calculated:

  • Birth process (GA)
  • Birth weight (GG)
  • Weaning weight direct (AGD)
  • Weaning weight maternal (AGM) (corresponds to the milk yield)
  • Net growth (NZW)
  • Conformation (F)

Bull market
Three times a year, in January, April and September, FLHB runs a bull market for beef cattle breeds. At this auction recognised herd book bulls of different beef cattle breeds are offered for sale.