NTM Unlocked
Conformation traits
 
The conformation traits have a weight of 13-15% in NTM depending on the breed. There are 22 conformation sub-traits, combined into Frame, Feet & legs and Udder. Breeding values for conformation traits are based on classification records in the first three lactations made by official independent classifiers and are scored from 1 to 9.
 
What are the weights of combined conformation traits? For Frame it is 0% for all three breeds, as the economic optimum has been already achieved. Due to correlations between Frame and other traits in NTM, the effect of Frame on economy is covered. For Feet and legs – the weights are as following – VikingHolstein (4%), VikingRed (3%) and VikingJersey (2%). Traits describing udder conformation have a relatively higher weight – VikingHolstein (9%), VikingRed (13%) and VikingJersey (14%). It is especially Udder depth and Fore udder attachment that are weighted more.  
How to read breeding values for conformation traits?

For all other traits in NTM the higher the breeding value, the more beneficial it is for the economy of dairy business. However, conformation traits are the exception. Breeding values (EBVs) are simply meant to describe how the daughters of the bull would look like compared to average. The value below 100 is not necessarily a negative thing. Similar to other traits in NTM, EBV 100 corresponds to the breed population average.
 
However, it is important to keep in mind that the difference between a bull, for example, with EBV 80 and EBV 100 for conformation sub-traits is not that significant. So, if you see a bull with 80 in one of the conformation sub-traits that should not scare you away.
 
Let’s take chest width as an example. VikingHolstein breed population average is 5.2 on a scale 1-9. A bull with EBV 80 (two standard deviations from the mean) has 4.9 that is only 0.3 lower in classification score, while a bull with EBV 120, would have 5.5 or 0.3 higher. The genetic variation will always exist, but it is only a very small proportion of cows that get more extreme scores - less than 1% of cows are classified with 1, 2, 8 or 9. 

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