New dairy breeding guidelines and Herd EBI Scorecards unveiled

New dairy breeding guidelines, focused on improving the genetic merit of all calves from the dairy herd – both dairy and beef calves – are currently being sent to herd-owners, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The letters are being sent by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and will also contain a new ICBF Herd EBI Scorecard.

The new scorecard is designed to help herd-owners identify the strengths and weaknesses of their dairy herd from a genetics standpoint.

The guidelines in general, compiled by a department-led dairy calf working group consisting of key industry stakeholders, focus on improving the quality of calves coming from the dairy herd, the department says.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has welcomed the distribution of the new guidelines.

Areas covered in the guidelines include:
  • The generation of high Economic Breeding Index (EBI) replacement females for the dairy herd;
  • The use of the new dairy beef index for generating higher value beef animals from the dairy herd; and
  • The use of breeding tools such as the ICBF Herd EBI Scorecard, the ICBF Sire Advice Tool, and the ICBF Active Bull Lists for dairy and dairy beef breeding.

Commenting on the development, Minister Creed highlighted and acknowledged the contribution of industry stakeholders to the development of the new breeding guidelines.

“The new guidelines are a result of the collective effort of all stakeholders working together, to ensure that we continue to improve the quality of calves from our dairy herd in the future,” the minister added.

Michael Doran, chairman of the ICBF, also acknowledged the benefits of the new Herd EBI Scorecard, adding:

Helping farmers identify where their herd is strong or weak from a genetics standpoint is a major step forward for our industry, as it will help herd-owners focus on the traits that will increase the profitability and sustainability of their farms in the future.

Some 15,000 letters are currently being posted, with all due on farms this week.

For farmers interested in learning more, further information on these guidelines can be obtained from ICBF Herdplus; one’s local Teagasc advisor or agricultural consultant; or one’s local AI company.