Irish Charolais Cattle Society steps into the ring with ICBF

This evening (Tuesday, May 22) the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) was discussed at length during a meeting of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

A delegation from the Irish Charolais Cattle Society (ICCS) – along with the manager of Cashel Mart, Alison De Vere Hunt – outlined their concerns about the BDGP scheme in front of the committee and representatives from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF).

The group from the breed society included: the president of the ICCS, Kevin Maguire; the secretary of the ICCS, Nevan McKiernan; the treasurer of the ICCS, Noel Mc Goldrick; as well as farmers, Christy Comerford and Alan Wood.

Also present at the meeting was the chairman of the ICBF, Michael Doran, the federation’s chief executive, Sean Coughlan, and its technical director, Andrew Cromie.

The delegation from the ICCS raised concerns reportedly felt among both pedigree breeders and suckler farmers alike.

Issues raised included criticisms of communications, or the lack thereof, with the ICBF and the make-up of the federation’s board of directors. The delegation also argued that the ‘Euro-Star Indexes’ should not be directly linked to a scheme for farmers and should only be used as a guide.

The delegation argued that there are fluctuations in the indexes which cannot be fully relied upon and that suckler farmers are being forced to buy heifers or cows with origins in the dairy herd to meet requirements in the BDGP scheme.

Meanwhile, the manager of Cashel Mart, Alison De Vere Hunt, outlined that the quality of livestock passing through marts across the country is dipping and that too much emphasis is being placed on science now and not enough on common sense and practicalities.

She fears that the art of judging livestock by eye is dying out among the younger generation of farmers.

‘Improvements are being witnessed’

However, representatives from the ICBF argued that results are beginning to turn a corner and that headway is being made on a number of fronts.

They argued that improvements are being witnessed with regards to statistics on: average age at first calving; calves per cow per year; age at slaughter; carcass weights; etc.

Furthermore, the federation’s representatives maintained that research shows that animals with five stars are more environmentally friendly than animals which have lowers stars – due to the lower levels of methane that they produce.

The ICBF’s technical director, Andrew Cromie, highlighted that the BDGP scheme is making progress in genetic traits that go unseen and that what the scheme is promoting has been perceived as unpopular.

But he was adamant that the scheme is the way forward in order for the suckler herd to prosper.

Stay tuned for further reports from the meeting…