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5 Jan 2024 - NTM Unlocked #5

Correlation explained

What is correlation? Why is it important to talk about correlation in cattle breeding?

Correlation is a measure of how something relates to another. When the connection between two things is close, we talk about a high correlation. In contrast, when the relationship is unclear, we talk about a low correlation or, in some cases, no correlation at all.

Why are correlations useful within breeding?

Understanding correlations is an essential part of breeding programs.

They can help make predictions about the future development of the two co-related things. This way, we can precisely calculate the genetic progress we can achieve.

A correlation coefficient, a number that indicates the strength and type of correlation, is a way to put “a value” to the relationship between two things. This value is between -1 and 1, while 0 means there is no relationship between the two variables at all.

A perfect negative correlation has a value of -1, and a perfect positive correlation is 1. A negative correlation means that if one of the variables increases, the other will decrease. For example, the relationship between production index and health traits. In a positive correlation, both variables will increase.

Correlations are like ‘quality guarantee certificates’ that tell you what traits you improve in your herd and what genetic progress you make using NTM. Therefore, it’s essential to show and talk about correlations.

Progress in all profit-driving traits

The data collected in the Nordic database shows that NTM has a strong positive correlation with five key traits. By guiding your breeding strategy with NTM, your herd will achieve the most genetic progress in: 

·         Production (72%)

·         Longevity (41%)

·         Daughter Fertility (34%)

·         General Health (30%) – which includes:

o   Reproductive and metabolic disorders

o Feet & leg problems

·         Udder Health (29%)

Remember, with NTM, you are always breeding for higher profits. Data shows that selecting bulls with high NTM gives progress in all profit-driving traits for a successful dairy business.

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