What is an estimated breeding value?

An animal’s breeding value can be defined as its genetic merit for each trait. While it is not possible to determine an animal’s true breeding value, it is possible to estimate it. These estimates of an animal’s true breeding value are called estimated breeding values (EBVs).

EBVs are expressed as the difference between an individual animal’s genetics and the genetic base to which the animal is compared. EBVs are reported in the units in which the measurements are taken (e.g. kilograms for the weight EBVs). Thus a value of +12 kg for 400 day weight means the animal is genetically superior by 12 kg at 400 days compared with the genetic base of the relevant cattle population. On average, half of this difference will be passed on to the animal’s progeny.

Breedplan produces EBVs for a range of economically important traits. These traits currently include:

Weight Fertility/Calving Carcase

Birth weight


200 day growth

400 day weight

600 day weight

Mature cow weight

Scrotal size

Days to calving

Gestation length

Calving ease

Eye muscle area

Fat depth

Retail beef yield

Intramuscular fat

Carcase weight




It should be noted that EBVs will only be available if sufficient data has been recorded for that trait.