2 beef breed societies pull out of ICBF programme

Two beef breed societies have confirmed to AgriLand that they are pulling out of the Beef Gene Ireland Maternal Progeny Test Programme.

Both the Irish Charolais Cattle Society and the Irish Belgian Blue Cattle Society have confirmed that they will not be engaging with the programme – which is run by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) – moving forward.

It is understood that the Irish Simmental Cattle Society has not engaged with the programme for the past couple of years.

When it was launched in 2014, the ICBF stated that the long-term objective of the programme was to reverse the decline in maternal traits – such as milk and fertility – in the national suckler herd and to help deliver consistent, measurable genetic gain in beef breeding.

The federation added that this would be done by “identifying high replacement index bulls in pedigree beef herds and carrying out comprehensive progeny testing on these bulls”.

However, the relationship between the ICBF and some of Ireland’s beef breeds has been under pressure in recent weeks.

Pedigree breeders are concerned on a number of fronts when it comes to the current state of the national suckler herd.

‘Positively engaged’

Speaking to AgriLand, a spokesperson for the ICBF stated that he was yet to be alerted to the fact that two societies were pulling out of the programme.

Commenting on the situation, the spokesperson said: “The majority of breed societies are very positively engaged with that breeding programme. If you look at the active bull list for the replacement index, five of the top 10 bulls have actually come through that programme.

So it has been very successful in identifying maternal-strain bulls. It has been delivering what it needed to from that point of view.

The spokesperson added that some people have expressed issues with the programme, with one point being the cap of around €4,000 which can be spent to purchase bulls for the programme.

Continuing, the spokesperson said: “Some people view that their bulls are worth way more than that and if that’s the case, well we just move on to the next bull on the list.

“There’s a limit on the resources that become available to us; it’s not an unlimited amount and we’re trying to get the best use possible from it; the best use possible is to test as many bulls as possible.

“That’s why there is a cap. If that means that one or two bulls don’t end going into the programme as a result of that, well that’s just unfortunate,” the spokesperson said.

BEEF 2018

Earlier this week, a number of Ireland’s pedigree beef breed societies chose not to exhibit at Teagasc’s BEEF 2018 event in Grange, Co. Meath.

It is understood that between 10 and 12 individual societies decided to “boycott” a tent focused on breeding at the event; but a small number of societies did decide to show up at the tent.

It is believed that the decision by some breed societies not to show at the tent was taken last week, when representatives from a large contingent of Ireland’s beef breed societies met in Athlone to discuss concerns relating to the direction that the national suckler herd is currently being taken in.

Representatives from 10 or 11 societies reportedly attended the meeting; a representative from one of the societies told AgriLand that the meeting was “very productive” and that all of the societies are now on the “one wave length“.

Further meetings are expected to take place in the coming weeks to discuss potential proposals that would benefit the national suckler herd.