The year has simply flown by and most of the Devon breeders in the Eastern States have experienced a dramatic turnaround in pastoral conditions. We have now witnessed drought, flood and plague locusts so we are all hoping that the fourth wheel of the apocalypse being Fire does not visit us as well in this year. Our western Australian breeders have not shared in this bounty with the interior of that State being in severe drought.

It was wonderful to catch up with many of you during the UK Devons at Home tour.

Since that tour I have been very pleased to read about the Devon market in the USA. Especially pleasing has been my reading of the diversity of bloodlines now being employed in the USA to extend and further develop that Countries Breed.

During the UK tour many of you helped me out with a list of the Sires that in your experience have had an impact on your own Nations Devon herd. Upon reading these lists there appears a high degree on commonality indicating to me that there should be many bloodline connections within each of our databases.

Recently the NZ Red Devon Breeders Association has tested the veracity of having the breedplan data run in conjunction with the Australian Data run. It would seem that this test run might well prove satisfactory to both parties.

Building on recorded performance data the Devon Cattle Breeders Society of Australian is exploring in 2011 methodologies that could give rise to an International Devon Index or an Internationally accepted Devon Assurance Index.

It is envisaged such an Index is not about how big the animal is or wether it is a Performance trait Leader but is an Index of confidence or Assurance that the animal concerned complies with Breed standards, is structurally and vetinarily sound and has DNA verification plus many other features. In addition the animal will come with documented performance data and other scaled data plus Pedigree information. In short the animal will be independently assessed on all the attributes outlined in the DCBSA FORM 3A or an agreed variation of it.

The DCBSA is also considering an Index to ascribe to Commercial animals but in this instance we may focus on how near an animal comes to achieving a body weight of 400 KG in 300 days (The DC400 Index) and for the later maturing types an animal that comes close to achieving a body weight of 600 Kg in 600 days on natural pastures (The DC600 Index). Obviously if an animal is fed supplementaries this would be suffixed against its identifier as SF. The Society would affix the Index and the Index should be such that it relates its actual weight at the 300 and 600-day interval.

In arriving at the Index a weighting will be given to Form, Functionality and Pedigree Information as well as recorded performance data plus Estimated Breeding Values and any other issue deemed important e.g. (Frame score).

Besides giving consideration to the concept of developing the Index I would like you to especially give some consideration to internationalising your recorded performance data. Given that each breeder nation shares some bloodline linkages it appears that there may by a chance that the data could be linked in a meaningful manner.

If I may be encouraged I would also like to share with you in the discussion of the matrix wherein we could differentiate between a D4 and a D9 animal.

This could lead to the International Devon Assurance Index becoming unique in the beef breeders world. An Index that covers Form, Functionality, Performance and Pedigree breeding.

I wish you all and your members a happy Christmas and may the New Year bring good fortune and happiness.

Kind regards
Bob Crawford
DCBSA President December 2010.