The meat processing company ABP Food Group and milk processing co-op Aurivo have announced details of a new pilot scheme offered to Aurivo milk suppliers.

The move comes as part of ABP’s Advantage Beef Programme initiative, which aims to highlight the importance of good sire genetics when buying calves from the dairy herd that are destined for beef production.

The new pilot scheme, which has been filled for this year, sees high-genetic-merit beef artificial insemination (AI) straws offered to Aurivo milk suppliers.

The project will be spearheaded by ABP’s Advantage Beef Programme liaison officer Oisin Lynch who explained: “The purpose of the new venture is to work with dairy farmers to encourage the use of higher-genetic-merit AI sires, resulting in better quality calves with the potential for higher beef carcass performance.”

These calves will be purchased by local beef farmers and reared for beef through the Advantage Beef Programme.

Sire selection

The sires eligible for the pilot scheme were selected based on a number of different criteria and the breeds selected were based on farmer preference.

Included in the pilot programme are two test sires which, according to ABP, “are promising young bulls with excellent calving and carcass traits and also proven bloodlines”.

The selection criteria for the sires in the pilot programme included:

  • Sires had to meet the Advantage Beef Programme’s minimum genetic threshold of a beef sub-index of €35;
  • The sires had to be easy calving and short gestation (to suit the dairy farmer) but have good carcass traits (to suit the beef farmer);
  • Sires had to be from proven bloodlines.

Sires being used for the new ABP/Aurivo pilot programme (scroll left to right to view the full table):

BreedBull codeBull NameDairy Beef Index (DBI)Beef sub indexCarcassCalvingGestationStatus
AAAA4640HW FARGHAL T516€87€6614.9kg3.3%-0.58 days
AAAA5280COOLRAIN PATRIARCH €79€468.9kg3.6%-2.03 days
€64€5412.3kg3.8%-0.15 days
€146€9523.7kg2.9%-3.03 daysNew/Test
AAAA7506TOWER TOMMIE (Test)€128€7616.1kg2.7%-2.88 daysNew/Test
HEHE5346FISHER 1 PROFILE P456€70€524.9kg3.9%-1.98 days
HEHE5452ALLOWDALE RORY 835€57€367.4kg4%-1.39 days
Source: ABP (Vales may be subject to change)

Research on the ABP Demo Farm has shown a direct link to progeny performance from using higher-genetic-merit sires in terms of carcass performance and value to beef farmers.

Results on AI Angus sires from the ABP Demo Farm have shown up to €200/head of a difference in price between finished progeny from high-genetic-merit sires compared to their lower beef-genetic-merit comrades.

While this is the programme’s first year, Aurivo and ABP have plans to further develop the project in the future to encourage more dairy farmers to get involved.

Commenting on the new venture, Aurivo’s farm profitability specialist, Vincent Griffith said: “We are excited about this pilot programme with ABP.

“Selecting high-genetic-merit beef bulls that are easy calving, short gestation but have high carcass traits will be beneficial for both our milk suppliers and local beef farmers who will buy these calves.”

In joining the programme, Aurivo milk supplier Sean Collery from Ballinacarrow, Co.Sligo, who is milking herd of 70 high Economic Breeding Index (EBI) cows, said:

“This pilot-scheme with Aurivo and ABP Food Group is a great initiative to link dairy farmers with calf-to-beef farmers and also offers dairy farmers a guaranteed outlet for producing better-quality dairy beef calves.”

Also commenting on the new initiative, ABP’s Advantage Beef Programme liason officer Oisin Lynch said: “Aurivo dairy suppliers making an effort to produce higher-genetic-merit dairy-beef calves is a positive step that will produce more sustainable and profitable calves for beef farmers in the long term.

“We believe more integration is needed with the dairy and beef industries and we look forward to working with Aurivo milk suppliers in the future.”

Concluding, Oisin Lynch outlined: “Using higher-genetic-merit bulls can be a win-win for both the dairy farmer and the beef farmer, by providing the beef farmer with better calves and the dairy farmer with a more secure market for their calves.”

Aurivo milk suppliers who are interested in joining the pilot scheme in the future can contact an Aurivo representative.