The use of artificial insemination (AI) as a key technology on suckler farms was a topic discussed on last night’s Sustainable Breeding Summit.

The use of AI on suckler farms allows farmers to use a range of bulls to breed for different traits that they are looking for.

AI is also a good way of achieving continued progression of genetic gains within a suckler herd.

The AI of a suckler cow can be a little more challenging compared to a dairy cow, but the benefits that can be achieved are worthwhile to farmers.

Sustainable Breeding Summit

Rose Goulding, the beef programme manager with the National Cattle Breeding Centre (NCBC) was asked about how bulls are selected to enter into AI.

Giving some insight into the selection process used, Rose said: “The focus is to select bulls that have a specific purpose.

“What do suckler farmers want from these bulls?

“Some farmers are looking to breed replacements, so we have a maternal programme especially to select bulls for replacements.”

Rose Goulding

Continuing, Rose said: “The weanling producer is interested in the terminal side; they want very good weight gain and early shape.

“Then you have the finisher and farmer selling stores; they also want excellent weight gain and shape, but that can come a little bit later for them.

“It’s really about selecting bulls for different purposes and then transcending all that is calving difficulty.”

Curve bender

John asked Rose to explain the American term used to describe a type of bull, which was mentioned earlier in the summit.

“The term Americans use is ‘curve bender‘ – which is exactly what Ciaran described he is getting using AI,” Rose said.

“No trouble calving, still achieving weaning weight and still achieving his yearling weights,” she explained.