Farmers’ stated selection preferences differ from revealed AI bull selection in Finnish dairy herds

Elina Paakala, Daniel Martín-Collado, Asko Mäki-Tanila, Jarmo Juga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Traditionally, in dairy production, traits included in total merit indices (TMI) are weighted based on their economic importance in the production system in which they are meant to be used. In the Nordic countries, Nordic Total Merit (NTM) is used. Farmers may, however, have herd-specific breeding goals, which can differ
greatly from TMI. Recently, surveys have been conducted among dairy farmers to determine their selection preferences with the aim of complementing the development of the breeding objectives deduced purely from economic data. The aim of this study was 1) to investigate the stated selection preferences for AI (artificial insemination) bull traits of Finnish dairy farmers when selecting AI bulls for both of the main dairy breeds in Finland: Ayrshire (AY) and Holstein (HOL), and 2) to analyse how the stated preferences match the revealed preferences in dairy bull selection. An online survey was conducted to determine farmers’ stated preferences using Analytic hierarchy process (AHP). Altogether 657 farmers responded to the survey, yielding a response rate of 17.2%. Based on farm characteristics and background information, the respondents can be said to represent also the future Finnish dairy farmer. The AHP results were compared with respondents’ revealed bull selection, which was determined by the mean of traits’ estimated breeding values (EBVs) of bulls used weighted by the number of inseminations in each herd. Large differences emerged between stated and revealed preferences in both dairy breeds. Longevity was the most important trait in revealed preferences in HOL herds and the second most important trait in AY herds. In stated preferences longevity was the second most important trait
on both breeds. Yield was the most important trait in AY herds and the second most important trait in HOL herds in revealed preferences, but very little favoured in stated selection preferences. In addition, conformation was more favoured in the revealed selection than in the stated preferences. Health was quite poorly favoured in revealed selection, given that it ranked highest in the stated preferences. Revealed preference of different traits followed relatively well NTM-based selection in both breeds. Most farmers seem to trust NTM in their AI bull selection, but it is not the only criterion for choosing AI bulls. The information regarding farmers’ stated preferences and earlier AI bull selection could be used to customize the NTM at the farm level, better considering
individual farmers' perspectives.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104117
JournalLivestock Science
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 412 Animal science, dairy science
  • Trait preference, breeding objective, total merit index, dairy cattle

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