‘Don’t just count stars when making breeding decisions – think euro value’

Suckler farmers should pay more attention to the euro value of the Eurostar rating rather than the actual number of stars, according to Teagasc’s Pearse Kelly.

The Teagasc Head of Drystock Knowledge Transfer said this will make it a lot easier going forward to make the correct breeding decisions.

Speaking at a recent Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) information evening in New Ross, Co. Wexford, the Teagasc man said that the process of selecting a bull from the replacement index is simple maths.

“We really need to move away from thinking about four or five-star and we need to start thinking about the euro aspect.

“It is going to be a lot easier going forward if you look at the euro value, once a cow hits €74 she will be classified as four-star,” he said.

Kelly added that the Eurostar rating may well be meaningless within the breed, especially for those looking to purchase a stock bull to breed replacement heifers in a commercial herd.

According to the Teagasc specialist, there is also a danger that a stock bull’s value can drop significantly between the time of conception and calf birth.

As a result of this increased risk of figure change, he added, that there has been an increase in AI use on-farm as a result of the new Genomics Scheme.

This has occurred, he said, as there are bulls with very high replacement indexes available from AI which will produce calves suitable for the scheme from relatively low star cows.

“The big advantage of going the AI route is that that some bulls can contribute huge values to the calf.

“The reliability of the bull available may also be higher than the stock present on-farm,” said Kelly.

Genomics Scheme Success in France

According to Kelly, Ireland is not the first country to use the replacement indexes in the beef herd and it has been in operation in France for the last 20 years.

“They have been doing it out in France, they have at least six indexes for every animal.

“It is a much more complicated system, it is something they have bought into and have been using for the last 20 years.”

Kelly added that a French farmer he visited recently was killing bulls a month earlier, achieving 40kg heavier carcasses while using the same feed as 10 years ago.

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