There are 49 Irish bred bulls on the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation’s (ICBF) Dairy Spring List 2014, which is a new record. It is the highest number of bulls from any one country that have ever made the top bull list at the same time.

The EBI details of the bulls are based on the December 2013 genetic evaluations computed by the ICBF. The criteria for making the list are as follows: EBI’s with reliabilities greater than or equal to 35 per cent; and also have; Calving difficulty evaluations with reliabilities greater than or equal to 50 per cent. (For a bull to be included on the active bull list his calving evaluation must be based on actual calving survey data either in Ireland or in the country of origin of the bull, and not just genomic information.)

The 75 bulls in total have breeding values for EBI and the seven sub indices together with trait information on 10 key profit traits.

2014 is the 14th year that ICBF has published the Spring Active Bull List. In 2001 there were just two bulls on the list bred here in Ireland. Holland, France, New Zealand and America have generally been where most of the Bulls on the list have come from.

According to the ICBF, this trend started to change around 2009 when the first of the Gene Ireland Irish bred and progeny tested bulls started to come through.

“This year there are now 49 Irish bred bulls on the list. This is a new record as it is the highest number of bulls from any one country that have ever made the top bull list at the same time. The remaining 26 bulls are all from New Zealand,” it said.

The 75 bulls on the list have an average EBI of €269, ahead of last year’s average by €30. The bulls EBI’s on the list range from €322 down to €249. Nearly 70 per cent of the Bulls on the list are Genomic Bulls with the remainder being Daughter Proven either here in Ireland (16 per cent) or from abroad (14 per cent).

A new development in the Active Bull list this year is an indication in the ‘Semen Details’ section of the list as to whether sexed semen of a bull is available.

An asterisk is also included after the straw price as sexed semen is more expensive than conventional semen.

There are 12 bulls on this Spring’s Active Bull List that have sexed semen available. However there are a lot of other Dairy AI Sires from a number of breeds that also have sexed semen available.

According to the ICBF: “There is actually 113 Dairy AI Sires from five different breeds for which sexed semen is available this Spring. 34 of these bulls have EBI’s good enough to make the Active Bull list. 50 bulls have EBI’s in between €100 – €250 with the remaining 29 bulls having EBI’s less than €100.”

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of sexed semen is from Holstein bulls (95 bulls) but some sexed semen is
also available from four other dairy breeds: Friesian (7 bulls), Jersey (7 bulls), Montbeliarde (3), Swedish Red (1).

What bulls should I pick from the list? 

There are many answers to this question. The ICBF outline four simple tips that will help you pick the right Sires for your herd.

1. Identify which EBI Sub–Indices your herd is low in. This Herd Sub–Index information is available on the Herdplus EBI report that ICBF generates for every herd that is signed up to Herdplus (1850 600 900).

2. Pick an initial panel of Bulls that are strong in the Sub–Indices that your herd is weak in.

3. Refine your list of Bulls taking other factors into account for example; Calving Ease, Inbreeding, Price, Availability.

4. Finalise your team of Bulls by picking at least five Bulls to use in equal amounts across your herd. The ICBF Sire Advice program (1850 600 900) can complete this step for you and also allocate the chosen Bulls to your cows in such a way that inbreeding is avoided.

Availability of List
The 2014 Active Bull List is available on the ICBF Website ( This list shows the top 75 Active AI Sires. The total list of Active AI Sires together with their Supplier, Availability and Price details is also available at the above website.