Many farmers have already started to look at catalogues for breeding 2023 and in some cases, have selected their bulls.

But it looks like breeding dairy cows in Ireland has now changed, with the introduction of not one but two sexed semen labs.

This means that there will likely be more sexed semen available to Irish dairy farmers than ever before and from the top bulls.

Breeding 2023

With the national herd now stabilising, the need for dairy heifer calves is reduced and the focus on farms will now be on producing enough replacements.

So, using dairy semen on a large portion or on all cows is no longer required.

Instead, sexed semen should be used on the best cows and heifers to obtain replacements and beef semen should be used on the rest of the herd.

Farmers should use milk-recording reports to identify the best cows in the herd and then use them to breed replacements from.

It is also important to select a wide range of bulls and ensure that you check the lineage of the bulls picked.

Too many farmers are picking bulls on one trait only and are ending up with a number of bulls from the same sire.

Do you own research and speak with your breeding advisor or salesman when picking bulls for your farm.

Beef bull selection

The market for beef calves from the dairy herd is changing and this means that dairy farmers must also change.

Beef farmers are at a point where they are demanding higher-quality calves and a number of measures have been introduced to aid this.

The dairy beef index (DBI) has been in place for a while now, but the commercial beef value (CBV) was launched earlier this year.

The CBV will be present on mart boards and allow farmers to identify calves that will be more profitable for beef farmers.

Because of this it is important that dairy farmers spend more time selecting beef sires.

Dairy farmers will have four groups on which they may be using beef bulls on. These are maiden heifers, second calvers, cows and mature cows.

It is then a case of selecting a sire for each of those groups that is easy calving, has a short gestation and has the highest beef sub-index within the DBI.

The mistake many dairy farmers make is selecting one bull to use across the entire herd, like a stockbull.

But when you are using artificial insemination (AI) you can select four different bulls that will give you easy calving across the groups but maximise the DBI value.