Selection on appearance is an important technique that must be used as a complimentary approach with performance testing data to identify animals that are free from genetic and morphologic defects. A balanced relationship between conformation and functional effectiveness must form the basis for selection done of registered Charolais cattle retained for breeding and enhancing the breed. Traits difficult to determine by objective measurement, but important for production and reproduction are walking ability, skeletal defects, colour, weaning weight, form and size of sheath, secondary sexual trait and breed correctness and muscling. These features should be visually evaluated and are an integral part of the final animal screening evaluation for registration.
Animals with outstanding traits in regards to specified metrical traits such as growth ablility, milk production, feed utilization, birth ease, etc. usually have higher breeding values than animals with less excellence in these traits. Metric traits (production and reproduction) are difficult to determine judging only by outward appearance. The accuracy in measuring a calf's growth ability with the eye is relatively low and therefore untrustworthy. By using performance testing sensibly, genetic progress can be quickened considerably, providing it is used in conjunction with clear and applicable breeding objectives.
BLUP technology is now available to both small and large-scale breeders in a convenient and cost effective manner. Breeding values can be obtained, providing certain prerequisites are in place, such as the availability of accurate performance testing data and a genetic relation to a herd of which the performance testing data is available and accurate. It is now possible to identify animals with excellent traits by their predicted breeding values within and between herds. This eliminates the guesswork from the process of selecting breeding animals. The availability of BLUP breeding values, which is a prerequisite for the calculation of breeding values by means of BLUP-methods, makes performance testing an essential part of the Charolais breeding policy.
The French bull-test system makes provision for measuring a stud bull's female progeny traits, such as milk production, fertility and- calving ease. By adopting this approach, the uncertainty with regards to a bull's genetic merit and breeding potential is removed, and the performance of certain genetic traits can be accurately determined for implementation into specific herds. Breeders using French bulls should only use progeny tested and proven bulls.