Farmers urged to purchase stock bulls from WHPR herds
Commercial farmers are recommended to purchase stock bulls from Whole Herd Performance Recording (WHPR) herds.
The WHPR programme’s objective are to:
- Increase buyer confidence when purchasing pedigree bulls;
- Increase the reliability of €uro-Star indexes;
- Provide an online bull sales section – ‘The Stockbull Finder’ – which features bulls that have been independently weighed by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) during a whole herd visit.
What is Whole Herd Performance Recording?
Whole Herd Performance Recording is a new recording programme for pedigree beef farmers to ensure accurate recording of data to include in genetic evaluations.
Prior to 2017, only some animals in pedigree herds were weighed and scored and this led to some inaccuracies in genetic evaluations.
It will ensure confidence in data when commercial farmers are purchasing pedigree animals. Now, all pedigree animals in the herd are weighed, scored and/or inspected.
What is the purpose of the programme?
The ICBF introduced the scheme to ensure that all data collected is of a very high quality. High-quality data is extremely important when calculating genetic evaluations.
The more quality data that is included on pedigree animals, the more accurate the genetic evaluation will be. While the focus up to now was on scoring young bulls in herds, it is changing to cow attributes like calving ability, fertility and ability to feed a calf.
This will help farmers participating in the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) make more informed decisions around breeding and animal selection.
What are the details of the scheme?
The programme is co-ordinated by the ICBF. Pedigree breeders fill in extra information at insemination time, calving time and have a visit annually from an ICBF scorer.
At this visit, all animals on the farm – between one and 149 days – are weighed and animals between 150 days and 700 days are weighed and scored.
An animal will only be scored once; there will be no need to re-score an already scored animal on a previous visit.
All cows in the herd are scored for functionality including the evidence of previous caesareans. Cows with a calf at foot are also weighed as part of the visit. Preferential treatment will be recorded where some calves may be sucking foster cows.
What does it mean for pedigree farmers?
The programme means a level playing field will, in time, be established for all pedigree breeders by ensuring that all data collected, such as birth dates, is true and accurate.
It will mean a small, extra burden of inputting information around insemination and calving time and also facilitating a visit annually from the ICBF scorer.
In return, pedigree farmers participating in the programme will be part of an elite group of herds who will have certified quality data and, in turn, more accurate indexes behind their breeding stock.
What are the benefits of the scheme?
For pedigree farmers:
- Programme participants will be listed on the new ICBF ‘Bull Finder’ online tool. This facility will allow commercial farmers to search, for example, for 5-star terminal bulls in Co. Carlow. This is seen as one of the major benefits of the new programme for pedigree breeders;
- Increased €uro-Star accuracy;
- Useful scoring data on the functionality and docility of animals in the herd;
- Certified quality data stamp on all sales catalogues;
- Highlight bulls in the programme on the ICBF ‘Animal Search’ facility;
- The unique opportunity to sell bulls to the Gene Ireland progeny testing programme. Non-participating herds will not have this option.
For commercial farmers:
- More confidence when purchasing from Irish pedigree herds that their data is accurate;
- Higher accuracy in genetic indexes will mean a lower probability of indexes moving a lot in an animal’s lifetime;
- Higher accuracy on calving ease figures;
- Higher accuracy on the milk and fertility sub-index;
- More informed decision making;
- A level playing field to make comparisons when purchasing animals.
Commercial farmers looking for herds participating in the programme can log in to the ICBF website and go to the Bull Finder section. This details all the bulls in Ireland participating in the programme, which can be searched under specific criteria like terminal index, replacement index and breeder location.
Breed Societies are also playing an important role in encouraging breeders to join the programme. Commercial farmers should reward these pedigree farmers by purchasing bulls from these herds. They have shown a willingness to incur extra costs and labour to make sure their data recorded is 100% accurate.