ABP Food Group has announced that it will supply a total of 2,000 beef-breed artificial insemination (AI) straws to farmers producing calves for the processors’ Advantage Beef Programme.

The initiative comes following the success of the processor’s previous pilot programme which linked dairy farmers producing beef calves with superior genetics with beef farmers this spring within the Advantage Beef Programme.

In total, almost 500 calves were sourced and reared on Advantage beef farms and the new Advantage Dairy-Beef Pilot Programme aims to further expand on this.

The beef genetics being provided have been selected from bulls that are balanced for ease of calving, short gestation, and superior beef characteristics including higher progeny carcass weight and conformation.

The 30 bulls, selected from AI companies Munster Bovine, Progressive Genetics (NCBC), Dovea Genetics, and Eurogene are as follows:

Bulls from the Certified Irish Angus Elite Breed Improvement Programme and Irish Hereford Prime’s Breed Improvement Scheme have been included in the list of bulls.

Approximately 50 farmers have been selected across each of ABP’s seven beef processing sites and these farmers are currently liaising with their ABP Advantage team representatives.

The aim of the Advantage Dairy-Beef Pilot Programme is to:

  • Create awareness of the role of genetics;
  • Increase the availability of suitable calves for Advantage farmers;
  • Build calf supply relationships between dairy and beef farmers;
  • Improve calf-to-beef profitability though the use of better genetics.

The beef processor aims to grow the pilot scheme further and it is hoped the initiative will influence the use of better beef genetics across the national dairy herd.

The terms and conditions of the Advantage Dairy-Beef Pilot Programme include:

  • Dairy farms will be visited by your local farm liaison to ensure calves are reared in a healthy, clean environment;
  • Straws received from ABP must be used no later than June 22, 2023;
  • Straws received from ABP must not be used on cows with Jersey genetics;
  • Straws received from ABP must be used on cows only;
  • A stockbull should not be run at the same time as ABP straws are used;
  • Calves born through the ABP pilot programme must be either:
    • Finished by the dairy farmer within the ABP Advantage programme or;
    • Sold to an ABP Advantage beef farmer.
  • All calves must receive 3L of colostrum within the first three hours of life;
  • Calves must be 2-3 weeks of age before moving to the buyer’s farm;
  • All calves must have the correct sire recorded;
  • Straws will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis.

ABP Food Group’s agri-sustainability manager, Stephen Connolly, said this announcement is a “strong example of putting research work from our Demonstration Farm into real practice with the aim of improving the profitability of our family farm advantage programme members”.

“Seven years of research has proven that improved genetics produces better-quality dairy-beef calves, with shared benefits for both dairy and beef farmers,” he added.

“Furthermore, the results have also shown the potential of improved genetics to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of beef, by optimising the age of slaughter and improving feed efficiency.

“Ongoing research demonstrates that offspring from higher genetic-merit bulls are continuously performing better on the ABP Demo Farm.

“This includes improved carcass weight gains of up to 50kg for animals when compared to their cohorts. Research on the ABP Demo farm has focused on improving both the economic and environmental sustainability, by using improved breed traits in the dairy herd.”

Concluding, Connolly commended the work of the Advantage Beef Programme farm liaison team for their work in the rollout of the pilot programme.