Some 63.4% the cows in Irish dairy herds are sired by AI bulls, according to the latest Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) statistics.
The statistics based on 1.14m dairy cows in 16,462 herds with more that 10 cows, show that a total of 725,126 dairy cows were sired by AI bulls, while a further 227,258 dairy cows (19.9%) were born after stock bulls.
A total of 16.8% of the 1.14m dairy cows recorded were born after unknown sires, and if this figure was excluded, the data would show that 76.1% of the dairy herd were sired by AI and 23.9% sired by stock bulls.
A spokesperson for ICBF commented that the figures were not at all unusual. The overall trend in the dairy herd shows slightly increasing use of AI each year, with 2016 being no exception.
Sire recording helps herd-owners to avoid inbreeding and make genetic gain within their herd which equates to more profit.
However, the spokesperson said that ICBF can only fulfil its purpose when all farmers make as much data as possible available for use by the organisation, including sire records.
AI being used for beef in the dairy herd
One of the major advantages of AI is that it can be used to mate different types of cows to specific bulls for a number of reasons.
The major advantage of this is the higher price that is paid for young beef sired calves from the dairy herd than is usually paid for their dairy-sired counterparts.
The other, less obvious, advantages of using beef breeds lies in calving and gestation.
Both Hereford and Aberdeen Angus bulls are very popular amongst dairy farmers due to their short gestation periods. It is also true that various beef sires that have easy calving traits are popular with AI companies.
Similarly use of Belgian Blue sires in the dairy herd has dropped in recent years due to their longer gestation periods.