The Agricultural Science Association (ASA) is holding its annual autumn beef tour in The National Bull performance centre at Tully in County Kildare today.

Among the programme of events at on the tour is a discussion surrounding the progeny testing, which is being carried out by GENE Ireland at the performance centre. The first group of group of commercial progeny are now on test 12 months. Since then 250 commercial progeny all bulls have been slaughtered through the programme, whilst there is an additional 220 progeny currently on test.

The aim of the research is to collect performance, carcass, meat-eating quality and health data on the progeny of AI sires.  In order to obtain enough data for each bull 10-15 progeny for each will need to be slaughtered.

According to the ASA booklet produced by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF), which will be circulated today, the selection processes used to identify commercial progeny on the ICBF database has certain criteria such as they must be sired by GENE Ireland AI Sire or a proven AI Bulls, age, gender, recorded sire and material grand sire. Once the chosen animals are purchased they are then BVD and TB tested on farm. The animals have their parentage verified using DNA testing at Tully.

The booklet outlines that selected animals are then acclimatised in the test centre for 30 days prior to the start of the test. During this period the animals receive a required diet and they also receive their various vaccinations.

“While on the 90-day test period the animals their feed intake recorded and are weighed weekly. The test period is designed to evaluate their genetic potential. Especially for important production traits such as feed conversion and growth efficiency,” it notes.

Table 1. Range in live animal measurements obtained during the performance test period for the 249 commercial progeny slaughtered to date/courtesy ICBF

Final live-weight (kg) Average Daily Gain (kg) Dry Matter Intake (kg/day) Feed conversion efficiency (dmi/adg) Pre slaughter muscle scan depth (mm) Pre slaughtered scanned fat depth (mm)
Highest 864 3.1 16.5 9.4 104 8.0
Lowest 560 1.23 9.1 4.3 67 2.0
Average 692 2.1 12.3 5.9 83 3.7

Carcass weight data ranged from 297kg to 508kg with an average carcass weight of 409kg. the average kill out weight for the group was 59 per cent and range of 50 per cent to 65 per cent.  The average age of the group at slaughter was 16.5 months.

The meat-quality data was collected by dissecting each side of the carcass into 19 different cuts and the weight of each cut was recorded. Results from this data will be available in the coming months, according to the ICBF.

Image limousin heifers on silage/Photo O’Gorman Photography