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Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) provide a measure of the breeding potential of an animal for a specific trait. They take into account performance data collected on known relatives, the relationships between performance traits (correlations) and the degree to which traits are inherited from one generation to the next (heritabilities).

EBVs are expressed in the same units as the recorded trait (e.g. kg for 200-day weight) and they relate to a common baseline (usually set in 1980).

EBVs are easy to interpret, for example:

A bull with an EBV of +40 for 400-day weight is estimated to have progeny with the genetic potential to be 20kg heavier at 400 days of age compared to a bull with an EBV of 0.

A recorded bull will only pass on half of its genes to its calves so its EBVs must be halved in order to estimate the average genetic worth of its progeny.

Information is often presented in a bar chart format, with bars to the right indicating superior animals, those to the left indicating those with genetic merit below breed average.

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