Farmers have been given the opportunity to use some of the best up and coming bulls in their herds through the Gene Ireland bull programme.

The Gene Ireland Maternal Beef Breeding programme was launched in Autumn 2012 and was established by the ICBF in conjunction with industry partners.

The overall aim of the programme is to achieve much greater rates of genetic improvement in Irish beef production, through high-quality data recording and progeny testing a higher number of suitable beef bulls.

The breeding programme was established to improve breeding efficiency at farm level, through the improvement of calving intervals and the number of calves produced per cow per year.

To achieve this improvement, ICBF has recently announced the availability of semen from 14 new Gene Ireland bulls at a cost of €5/straw.

According to the ICBF’s Ciaran Costello, these bulls will allow farmers to breed replacements with high milk and fertility indexes.

There are 14 bulls from nine different breeds to choose from. If farmers want to breed more milk and better fertility into their herd, these bulls are designed to do this.”

Costello also advised each individual farmer to look at the performance of his or her own herd.

“Having a herd of cows that go in calf without any problems, have the ability to produce a good-quality calf and are able to produce milk to feed that calf is vital to keep a suckler enterprise profitable.”

Breeding good quality high replacement index females is the way to do this, he said.

“It is the way forward. A hard working cow is a profitable cow.

“Genetics play a huge role; this is why we want farmers to use these straws. It allows them to reap the benefits in terms of producing cows that will work hard,” he said.

More details on the Gene Ireland Programme is available on the ICBF website.