The latest statistics confirm that demand for beef AI in Northern Ireland continues to grow at an ever increasing rate.

According to AI Services breeding services manager, Ivan Minford, a number of factors are coming into play in this regard.

He explained: “We are also seeing a more than significant rise in the use of sexed straws within the dairy sector. Milk producers now have full confidence in using sexed semen on both heifers and cows.

“In turn, this is creating more opportunities to use beef bulls within a dairy breeding programme.

“Dairy farmers do not want to produce black and white bull calves. A high quality, cross-bred beef calf on the other hand, is worth a significant amount of money.”

Export demand for beef AI

AI Services is also reporting a strong export demand for beef semen at the present time.

“Our beef bull stud at Ballycraigy in Co. Antrim continues to expand,” Minford further explained.

“It is now home to a wide selection of elite beef sires, the vast majority of which were bred and reared here in Northern Ireland.

“As is already the case here in Ireland, dairy farmers in the UK are now using large quantities of sexed bulls within their breeding programmes.

“This development has also created opportunities for farmers there to use significantly higher levels of quality beef semen,” he added.

“AI Services has a strong reputation, regarding the supply of elite beef semen. And it is this factor, more than any other, which is driving our export sales at the present time.

“And this very welcome trend looks set to be maintained into the future.”

Suckler sector

Minford said that the company is also also seeing a continuing demand for high quality semen within the suckler sector.

“Beef prices continue to strengthen. The demand for high quality suckled calves has never been stronger,” he said.

“And there is clear evidence that suckler herdowners see a role for proven AI bulls in this context.”

According to the AI Services’ representative, the demand for new technologies, including synchronisation, is also developing within the suckler sector.  

“Approximately 50% of customers are now opting to select our beef mix offerings. Each straw contains semen from bulls of three different breeds,” he stated.