Are you using enough AI bulls for your herd of cows?

Breeding is just around the corner for many dairy farmers and the ICBF’s (Irish Cattle Breeding Federation’s) Paschal Coughlan offered farmers some advice on AI bull team size at a recent Teagasc/Dairygold farm walk.

Coughlan, a member of the ICBF HerdPlus team, said: “Farmers are seeing a risk when it comes to using genomic sires. The recommendation from that is to use an equal amount of bulls, across the herd, within a bull team.

“Last year, we found that farmers were using a team bulls and they were taking that advice. But, in a lot of cases, they weren’t using the bulls equally.

Some bulls were being over-used within herds. Farmers were relying on one bull too much and they weren’t spreading the risk. You need to use bulls equally across your herd and you need to use a team of bulls.

Guidelines for bull team usage:

More choice for heifers

Coughlan also said that farmers will have more choice when it comes to selecting bulls for use on heifers this year. This comes as the recommendation on calving difficulty PTA (Predicted Transmitting Ability) has increased from 2% up to 2.4%.

A bull with a PTA of 2% had 3% calving difficulty on heifers on the ground and it was also the case for bulls with a PTA of 2.4%.

“By looking at that, we have now increased the number of bulls that you can use. There’s a wider selection of bulls that are available to use this year without negatively impacting the calving difficulty.

“Of course, common sense is recommended at all times when it comes to smaller heifers,” he said.