Last September ABS Ireland sent its first shipment of AI straws from their grassland programme to New Zealand. Since then semen from Irish grassland bulls has also been exported to Australia and Chile for use by dairy farmers producing milk on grassland systems.

ABS Ireland have exported semen to Chile from the following Irish bulls: Curra GYK Angel 2, Curra Tunder Struck, Hanrahan Victorious and Ballydehob Dan 1263. It has also exported Semen to Australia from Radney Rock and Curra Pluto.

Ciaran O ‘Shea, Dairy Product Specialist, comments “The sires in these historic shipments to New Australia and Zealand were Radney Rock and Hanrahan Victorious, which were both bred in County Cork where ABS Ireland have their headquarters.

Rock was bred by Henry O’Keeffe, Knockailla, Freemount, Charleville. While Hanrahan Victorious was bred by Eddie and Matthew Hanrahan, Corracunna, Mitchelstown.

Henry O’Keeffe has a spring calving herd of 70 cows which was established in 1987. Average yield is 8,500 Kgs at 4.2% butterfat & 3.63 % protein. Milk is supplied to Kerry Coop.

The Hanrahan Holstein herd was established in 1995. They milk around 50 cows, average yield is 6490 milk kgs at 4.0 % butterfat & 3.4 % protein. Milk is supplied to Dairygold Coop.

Ballydehob Dan1263 was bred by Robert Shannon from West Cork, who last year along with Kieran Hearne of the Curra Herd hosted one of the Irish Grassland Association Open days. Herd EBI for the Shannon herd is €130 (top 10%) with €58 from milk and €61 from fertility.

Kieran Hearne has around 160 cows and average EBI is €180 with €49 for milk and €105 for fertility. Last year, his spring-calving cows delivered 421kgMS/cow (5,051 litres at 4.44% fat and 3.66% protein). In 2013, the calving interval was 364 days with 82% calved in six weeks.

Ballydehob Dan is a super bull for strength, fertility with exceptional components. Coming from the Ina family his Dam a 3rd generation VG classified cow which has calved earlier than the previous year for all of her four lactations, gaining five weeks in total.

To date she has produced on average 6,678kg with combined fat and protein % of 9.3%. Her averages are likely to be higher when she completes this current lactation.

According to Ciaran: “These bulls were selected for the ABS Ireland Grassland Programme because they met our specific breeding criteria which include easy care and long life cows. Their progeny must excel for production, fertility and longevity without any preferential treatment.

“I like a cow to calve each year and produce high levels of solids with a good balance of milk.”

Andrew Rutter, ABS European Sire Analyst says the sires must come from a proven cow family, and we are really excited at the potential for more Irish sires to be sold to Australia, Britain, Chile and South Africa, while other markets are also making enquiries.

“During 2014, we will purchase as many high ranking EBI calves as possible from Irish pedigree breeders , so we can continue to increase the size our of Irish programme and increase semen exports worldwide to livestock farmers using grassland production systems,” said Ciaran O’Shea.