With the breeding season being just around the corner on spring-calving dairy farms, the task of sire selection will have to be undertaken.

Sire selection is a crucial aspect of herd management that sufficient time needs to be allocated to – as ultimately you are selecting the future genetics of the herd.

In terms of selecting sires based off the Dairy Beef Index (DBI), on this week’s Teagasc Beef Edge podcast, the topic of how much of an impact the DBI can have was discussed.

Teagasc researchers, Alan Twomey and Nicky Byrne gave their opinion on what the future holds for the DBI.

Dairy Beef Index

For farmers that are unaware, the DBI is classified as a breeding goal for Irish dairy and beef farmers to promote high-quality beef cattle bred from the dairy herd that are more saleable as calves and profitable at slaughter.

The DBI ranks beef bulls – for use in the dairy herd – according to their genetic merit for a range of calving performance and carcass performance traits.

Also Read: How does the Dairy Beef Index work?

More focus needed

Speaking about the future goals for the DBI, Alan Twomey stated how he wishes to see more dairy farmers focusing intensely on the DBI, in the same way that they are currently focusing on the Economic Breeding Index (EBI).

In a message to pedigree breeders, Alan said:

“What I’d like to see is pedigree breeders to be focusing more on the DBI and to get the index going. They should have sires coming into AI stations or into herds as stock bulls that are on the higher level of the DBI.”

Alan also encouraged beef farmers, that are planning to buy dairy-beef calves in the future, to develop a relationship with their local dairy farmer and potentially work alongside one an other when it comes to selecting high DBI sires to be used on the dairy herd.

The sires can be selected in a way that satisfies both the dairy farmer and the beef farmer.

‘The DBI can identify the bulls with a balance of traits’

Giving his views on how much of an impact the DBI will have, Nicky Byrne stated:

“The index will help identify a bull with a balance of traits to bring about greater integration in the needs of both the dairy and beef farmer. The beauty about the index is that it allows bulls to be identified – the most appropriate individual bulls, rather than the traditional method of selecting by breed.

This is going to be really important going forward in selecting bulls to suit a wider range of systems.

“Since the introduction of the DBI, I suppose we have seen the use of a wider range of sires – with a growth in breeds that would not have been traditionally used in the dairy herd.

Nicky also claimed that through the use of the DBI, in conjunction with sexed semen, it will result in a reduction in the level of purebred dairy males coming from the dairy herd.

He said: “This will mean that we have higher value, higher carcass merit beef bred animals coming from the dairy herd.

“These calves will also deliver greater farm system efficiency in terms of feed, carcass and probably an earlier age of slaughter in comparison to purebred dairy males.”