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Traits, BVs and Indices

A trait is something you can record for your livestock that measures their biological and economic performance. The best traits are simple and repeatable to measure. Liveweight is an example of an excellent trait to record that reflects growth performance.


On Deer Select there are 17 liveweight traits including birthweight and monthly weights up to 12 months of age.

Overall there are 200 different traits on Deer Select at present. However nobody needs to record anywhere near that many! The traits chosen by each breeder reflects his, her or its individual breeding goals. For example, breeders for venison production focus on liveweight and carcass traits, but seldom record antler traits.

Generally, more than one trait will contribute to calculation of one BV. For example, Conception Date BV requires data on estimated foetal age, date of stag joining and the mating group.

The most overlooked piece of information is ‘Mob’.  Mob or ‘management group’ is a crucial piece of information that must be recorded with each trait measurement. Mob information is essential to enable the Genetic Engine to account for within-farm environmental effects.

Breeding values
Units for breeding values
Accuracy of BVs
Economic indices

More resources

Archer, J.A. and Amer P.R. (2009) Breeding objectives for seasonal production systems: an example from the New Zealand deer industry. Proceedings of the Association for the Advancement of Animal Breeding and Genetics 18: 207-211.

Archer, J.A., Ward J.F., Newman S-A.N., Cruickshank G.J and Pearse A.J. (2005) Implementing genetic evaluation in the New Zealand deer industry. Proceedings of the Association for the Advancement of AnimalBreeding and Genetics 16: 4-7.

Archer, J.A., (2007) Genetic technologies for deer breeding. Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production 67: 91-94.

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