It’s official, increased use of beef bulls on dairy herds

The number of calves sired by beef AI bulls in dairy herds last year increased by 39%, an increase of over 11,000 births compared to 2014, according to figures released by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF).

The top ten beef AI bulls used on dairy herds last year amounted to 38,886 births, compared to just 27,840 in 2014.

This trend is continuing in 2016, as farmers try to make as much money as possible from what they have, according to marketing manager of Progressive Genetics, Laurence Feeney.

“Without a doubt, more beef is being used this year with 2-3% fewer dairy bulls being used and this is undoubtedly influenced by the low milk price,” Feeney said.

Feeney believes the motivation behind the shift towards beef bulls is that beef-sired calves will sell for better prices compared to their dairy breed counterparts.

The most popular beef breeds are the Hereford and the Aberdeen Angus with key focus on easy calving and early maturing animals, according to Feeney.

“These account for 80% of the beef bulls used on dairy farms. Belgian Blues and Limousins make up the other 20% used,” Feeney said.

League table of top beef AI bulls used on dairy herds in 2015

Aberdeen Angus bull, Cornamuckla Lord Hardy K222 (KYA), topped the list of beef AI bulls used on dairy herds for a second year in a row. Top Beef AI bulls used on Dairy herds 2015

‘Lord Hardy’ had 12,012 calves registered to him in 2015, an increase of 5,500 from 2014 and nearly double the figures of any other bull.

‘Lord Hardy’ has a replacement index value of €122 and is five star bull within the Angus breed. He has a calving difficulty figure of 0.90% and is five stars for gestation.

Aberdeen Angus bull, 'Lord Hardy', top beef AI bull used on dairy herds
Aberdeen Angus bull, ‘Lord Hardy’, top beef AI bull used on dairy herds

Hereford sire Solpoll 1 Handsome {HYC} (SPL) was second on the list with 6,354 calves registered to him in 2015.

That was an improvement of two places from his performance in 2014, with an increase of 3,838 births.

‘Handsome’ has a calving difficulty figure of 3.60% and is five stars for gestation. He has a replacement index value of €103 and is five star bull within the Hereford breed.

Hereford bull, 'Handsome', was second on the list of top beef AI bulls used on dairy herds.
Hereford bull, ‘Handsome’, was second on the list of top beef AI bulls used on dairy herds.

Belgian Blue sire Manitou De Belle Eau (DBZ) was third on the list for a second year in a row with 5,174 calves registered to him in 2015.

‘De Belle Eau’ has a replacement index value €38 and is five star within his own breed. He has a calving difficulty figure of 8.90% and is five stars for gestation.

The ICBF also released the league tables for the top beef and dairy AI bulls used in 2015, with top beef sire ‘Hauteclair’ making tenth place in the league table for the top beef AI bulls used on dairy herds last year.

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