Breeding 2019: What’s actually happening on farms?

The good spring and the recent spell of good weather has resulted in an exceptional start to the 2019 breeding season – with reports of high-submission rates in herds across the country.

There has been a lot of controversy lately over the breeds dairy farmers should or should not be using on their cows.

AgriLand spoke with some of the AI companies to see if the talk on the street is reflective of what is actually happening on the ground.

Holstein-Friesian

The use of high EBI Holstein-Friesian bulls has been “strong” this year. Eurogene AI services, for example, saw an “11% increase in Holstein-Friesian bull usage” so far this year.

While for Progressive Genetics, so far, it has used approximately “90% Holstein-Friesian straws, 6% Jersey straws and 3% British-Friesian straws” on dairy farms.

Although, this is only what has been registered through the handheld devices used by AI technicians.

Some of the top-used Holstein-Friesian bulls for Progressive Genetics this year, include: Ballygowan Albert (FR4513); Nextgen Eimer (FR2460); Craigtown Tornado (FR4338); and Oldcastletown Ronaldo (FR2298).

For Eurogene AI Services some of its top-used bulls include: Kilronan High (FR4560); Curra Fionn (FR4554); and Kildarra Maestro (FR2053).

Jersey

AgriLand spoke with Eurogene AI Services to see what the general consensus is amongst farmers in relation to the use of Jersey on their herds.

It is finding that a lot of farmers are “quiet happy to stay on that road” because that is the “type of cow they are interested in”.

It also pointed out that the majority of “new entrants to dairy are using Jersey” along with “highly-stocked farms ” because they suit that type of system.

With regard to interest in Jersey straws, it has not seen a huge fall in demand. However, it is putting this down to the massive increase in demand for Jersey-sexed semen this year – which has doubled since last year.

The bulls which are being sought most are Bells Conrad (JE2438) and Okura Integrity (OKT).

For Progressive Genetics, its most commonly used Jersey bull is Brandene Pas Triplestar (JE4289).

Beef Breeds

Overall, the usage of beef breeds on dairy herds has increased.

Progressive Genetics has noticed a particular increase in the usage of “Belgian Blue and Limousin” on dairy herds.

The other beef bulls being used include SPL and HE2043 (both Hereford), along with KYA, AA4089 and AA4088 (all Angus).

It also noted that it has seen more of “a demand for beef earlier than previous years”.