The Perfect 10?

The Perfect 10?


Perfect 10?

Fact or Fiction

The Perfect 10?

During the years of the ClassiMate App development, which required

1.    First to produce the concept, then

2.    the scope, then

3.    the prototype and now a

4.    working platform.

I have had many hours to consider the un-anticipated uses of the application when put in the hands of a growing user base.

Obviously, in any robust business case, you consider the potential for the misuse of the tools for commercial gains and for which we have incorporated features to combat such occurrences.

These occurrences have existed long before ClassiMate and will exist long after ClassiMate. But, at least by using ClassiMate a substantial light shines on the shadows and the Structural data offers complete transparency.

Since the platforms release and a dramatic uptake of Structural Assessment (with now well over 5000 Cattle, Sheep and Goats assessed) I have witnessed something that hadn’t occurred to me in all my hours of contemplation.

Yes! It is around the Perfect ClassiMate (CM) score of 10. But it’s not what you think!

Throughout the 1000’s of Assessments (both Self Assessed or Independently Classified) a very limited number have secured the statute of ‘a perfect 10’. In my mind there are two types of animals that score perfect CM 10’s in the system.

1.    Animals that by any reasonable observer’s opinion and from its photo – is a highly credible CM 10.

2.    Animals that obviously have faults that are clearly visible in the photo and the breeder has provided an inaccurate assessment either through misuse of the platform or (more likely) through simply not being able to identify slight faults. Perfectly understandable given the variety experience amongst ClassiMate users. The result here is a slightly diminished level of confidence in the credibility of assessments in the eyes of potential buyers across the catalogue.

It’s the first example that my observations relate too.

Its only through seeing literally 1000’s of Independent and Breeder assessments from all calibres of confidence levels and across a multitude of breeds – that I have had an unexpected epiphany.

When reviewed by an independent observer and compared against a catalogue of identically assessed animals, a CM 9.75 (for example) is far more credible and enticing for a buyer to act on then a CM 10!

Let me explain further!

Put yourself in the shoes of a buyer who is scrolling through comparable animal assessment data using photos and CM scores as their primary guide. It’s highly probable that when seeing a CM 10 (sometimes multiple 10’s) a buyer might initially roll their eyes with the assumption that it’s unlikely that the animal is actually a CM 10 and more likely that the assessor has missed key trait features.

When the same breeder scrolls to an animal photo that catches their eye and a score of 8.5, 9.3 or 9.7 (or anything similar) the buyer is instantly reassured that a thorough assessment has been done on this clearly elite animal and the assessor has very critically “slightly” downgraded subtle faults. That’s where buyer confidence is born.

Of course, there are animals that are legitimate 10’s and an assessor should have the confidence to award them as such when they see it- but it’s in the assessment of the rest of the draft that the assessor develops the credibility in the eye of an independent observer.

Do perfect CM 10’s exist?

Yes- of course they do. But they always deserve another look, a more critical assessment will always win favour in the marketplace.

Visual Assessment or Objective Measurement?

Visual Assessment or Objective Measurement?

Visual assessment or objective measurent?

Notebook or Note book?

When it comes to breed development, this is the mother of all unanswered questions! 

You could draw a line down the middle of both camps and my guess is that you would find pretty equally divided schools of thoughts on this issue. And with good reason- both are extremely valid breed selection tools and both stir passionate debate amongst their advocates.


The staunchest supporters of objective measurements have a good number of years of EBV (Estimated Breeding Values) behind them now and can and will talk to you for as long as you will listen about the intricacies of trait comparisons and indexes and their usefulness’s in advancing the standard of their stock. They won’t get an augment from me!


I have repeatedly witnessed the visual improvement of particular bloodlines from years of select breeding based on objectively measured performance data. Their growth rates are better, their carcass qualities improve and they certainly look to have better meat coverage. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen the pursuit of these ideals come at the expense of breed quality and structural correctness. Where’s the measurement of that?


Now I am not bold enough to suggest that objective measurements are the sole reason for these advancements in any breed. There are as many examples of individual animals that have shown no improvement that looks amazing on paper. This leads the breeder to reflect on other contributing factors. Perhaps particular objective measurements reflect positively on an animal’s genetic makeup simply because there is more data associated with one bloodline over the next. Most frequently environmental factors are to blame, which is, of course, the entire usefulness of objective measurements but can test the resolve of a breeder.


Perhaps I have been focusing on the wrong indexes for my purposes, or put too much emphasis on one over the other.’


Do you stick with what you are doing at the expense of phenotypically appealing stock or do I change course to achieve satisfactory gains in my breed development?


Then there is the other camp that operates out of a pocketbook. Visually assessing bloodlines over generations of breeding with nothing more than a trained eye and an “asterisk” in my notebook. Using the poorly developed sire at the back of the mob because they have seen example after example that his lineage produces the desired trait that they chase the hardest.


I’ll ignore the obvious risks of not using the biggest, fattest, impressive sire, cause I know he’s always first to the feed bin and he looks better then has the right too- I’ve seen his breeding and I know it backwards. He’s the one that will top the next sale, but he wont breed my next top sire.’


Why are these two schools of thought at such opposing odds?


I guess every breeder that has exposed themselves to the vast array of breeding tools has had their moment of epiphany. All too often the animal with the most outstanding EBV’s is the rangiest, ugliest looking creature on the farm. And much like the breeder that relies on his notebook and visual assessment – the objective measurement junkie also has to draw his line in the sand.


Do I chase the perfect objective measurement and use the ugliest animal against my better urges, or do I follow my visual preferences and breed the type of stock that I like the look of. It starts as simply as a mating choice, but what this has amounted too is a defining breeding methodology. ‘I select heavily on object measurements’, or ‘I select on visual characteristics’. Never the twain shall meet!


Now to achieve visually impressive animals with amazing EBV’s is, of course, possible, but requires a deliberate and structured breeding program. A judge whom I admire very much once told me, “Breeding is like making a nice coffee blend if you want to add a little bit of bitterness you need to add a lot.” That has stuck with me and all too often I have found that using the longest sire on the farm has a small effect on his progeny. Once that is understood, a breed plan that spans for many years can be formed to tailor the right visual type animal with EBV’s that will impress the biggest advocate of any measure. Such a program requires the use of apposing measures to ensure and ultimate balance and requires compromise from the breeders with a firm eye on the end result.


So in my mind- for me it’s never been the support of one tool over the other that’s been the debate. But why not harness the usefulness of both?


This conclusion was the basis for the decision to include visual assessment data and objective measurement data on the ClassiMate web application. At the risk of providing too much information for purchases to make decisions, those who embrace both camps have the world at their feet.


Where do you stand?

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