The Aubrac Cattle Breed Society will be mounting a campaign to widen the appeal of this high-performing and easy-calving breed among dairy farmers.
The society aims to increase the number of Aubrac-cross cattle present in the dairy herd that are currently available to processors and consumers.
The breed currently has three out of the top six active artificial insemination (AI) bulls in the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation’s (ICBF’s) dairy-beef cross index: Dauphin, Despagnou and Madison.
With this in mind, dairy farmers should plan to incorporate the breed in their beef-bull selection this breeding season.
Aubrac cattle have been around for hundreds of years, originating in the mountainous regions of the Auvergne and France’s Massif Central. This area bred hardy cattle that could survive harsh terrains and thrive on a meagre diet.
The breed needed to be easy-calving as the chances of assistance at calving were non-existent. It is from these strong genetic fundamentals that the modern Aubrac breed developed from.
A few decades ago, a small number of enthusiastic breeders established the Aubrac breed in Ireland. They saw the potential of these attractive cattle – with their dark eyes, dark snout and gentle temperament – to introduce important beef traits into the national herd in Ireland, and traits that were needed by dairy farmers.
Managing Aubrac cattle in Galway
James Donnellan, who organically farms an Aubrac herd in Co. Galway, said: “The choices that dairy farmers have to produce dairy-beef cross cattle are limited, particularly from their heifers.
“Aubrac bulls are, for the most part, very easy calving and have the ability to put condition on dairy cross cattle more effectively than traditional beef choices.
“They produce finished cattle quicker that grade very strongly and have high kill-out percentages. These traits are demonstrated in the high genetic scores and rankings that Aubrac bulls consistently achieve in ICBF and Eurostar ratings.”
The meat produced from Aubrac cattle has acquired a strong following – particularly among craft butchers.
“Aubrac meat has excellent flavour and texture,” James added.
“Our breeders want to spread the word with consumers and the best way we can do this is to increase the numbers of Aubrac cross cattle that are available by encouraging more dairy farmers to use Aubrac for their dairy-beef crosses.”
For more information on the Aubrac breed, click here.