More and more farmers are using easy calving genetics since the introduction of the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) last year, Progressive Genetic’s Ross Hamilton has said.

Speaking to Agriland at the Ploughing in Screggan, Tullamore, Co. Offaly this week, he said there has been a switch to the use of easy calving genetics in both commercial and pedigree herds as farmers are looking for hassle free calving.

Along with a shift to easy calving genetics, he said that breeders are starting to focus on the star rating of the bulls used on their farms.

He said that this is particularly the case with pedigree Charolais breeders, who are using bulls that are five stars across the replacement and terminal indices.

Farmers are also starting to focus on gestation length, he said, and as a result it is the first year that Progressive Genetics has included gestation length in its 2016/2017 Beef Sire Directory.

Sire selection of suckler and dairy farms

Looking at the breeds used on suckler herds this year, the Marketing Executive said that farmers are using similar bulls to last year, with Angus continuing to remain an attractive option for farmers calving heifers at 24 months of age.

Hamilton also said that dairy farmers are continuing to focus on gestation length, with Angus and Hereford bulls leading the way in terms of non-dairy sire selection.

However, looking forward to next spring, he expects the numbers of Belgian Blue servings to increase, as farmers who carry out DIY AI were particularly keen to source Blue genetics this autumn.

Four beef bulls for use in 2017

Hamilton also spoke about four bulls that he thinks will be popular with Irish suckler farmers next spring, these bulls are Castleview Gazelle (ZAG), Fiston (FSZ), Cavelands Fenian (LZF) and Curaheen Earp (S12152).

He said that Limousin bull ZAG was on of the most popular beef bulls used in Irish AI last year he his progeny are easily calved.

The Charolais bull FSZ has been popular with beef farmers this year as his progeny are well-shaped and he predicted that bull will continue to remain popular in the coming years.

Another bull that he reckoned would be popular among farmers is the Charolais bull LZF. The bull is the number one bull in Irish AI on the replacement index and he is suitable for pedigree maiden heifers.

And, finally he predicted that the Simmental bull SI2152, who is the first son of Curaheen Vio available to Irish farmers through AI, will be a popular choice due to his short gestation length and daughter milk figures (+13kg).

Replacement and terminal index values:
  • ZAG: €184 replacement (five star) and €138 terminal (five star)
  • FSZ: €102 replacement (five star) and €157 terminal (five star)
  • LZF: €113 replacement (five star) and €124 terminal (four star)
  • SI2152: €164 replacement (five star) and €113 terminal (five star)