The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) Gene Ireland maternal beef breeding programme is starting to purchase bulls, which it says is a major step forward for Irish beef breeding.
According to an ICBF update out this week, a total of 20-25 bulls are expected to be purchased over the next number of weeks, with semen then available from these bulls for the 2014 programme.
The update stated: “All purchased bulls will have undergone a rigorous selection process which involves; the bull having met various genetic index and ancestry criterion, as defined by each breeding program group and the bull (and his dam) having passed a visual inspection, as carried out by independent ICBF linear scorers. In addition, bulls are only considered if the herd is a signed up participant of the Gene Ireland maternal beef breeding program. Only bulls that have passed all three criteria are then considered for potential purchase.”

Once purchased it is planned that the bulls will undergo on-farm health testing, after which they will be sent to one of the partner AI companies involved in the Gene Ireland programme.

“From there, semen will be collected from the bulls (a maximum of 1000 straws, 500 for the commercial progeny test and 500 for future mating’s), following which the bulls will be either sold on to one of the partner AI companies and/or sold for commercial breeding,” the ICBF outlined.

The ICBF Gene Ireland programme is being overseen by a total of 11 breeding programme committees that have been established across the various breeds involved in the programme.

These include; Angus, Aubrac, Belgian Blue, Blonde d’Aquitainne, Charolais, Hereford, Limousin, Parthenaise, Saler, Shorthorn and Simmental. Each committee then includes participants from each of the key stakeholders, including ICBF, breeders, commercial suckler farmers, herdbooks and AI companies.

In its update, the ICBF has described this latest development as a very exciting time for Irish beef breeding.

“The Tully central progeny test is now under way (note: a major open day will take place at the Tully centre on Saturday 12th October, with more details to follow), as is genomics research, including the genotyping of young pedigree beef calves as part of the pedigree registration process (a first in the context of global beef breeding). The establishment of the Gene Ireland maternal beef breeding programme is now another vital piece in the overall jigsaw towards delivering more profit from beef breeding for Irish farmers and the wider industry.”

Anyone interested in becoming involved in the Gene Ireland’s maternal beef breeding programme should contact ICBF HerdPlus on 1850 600 900 or visit its website here.