The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) recently released data outlining the most popular beef AI sires in suckler herds in 2018.

Castleview Gazelle (ZAG), Fiston (FSZ) and Elderberry Galahad (EBY) booked the top three spots with 18,031, 14,173 and 8,654 calves respectively on the ground.

Interestingly, Limousin and Charolais sires sit in the top four positions, with Cavelands Fenian (LZF) – 7,484 calves born in 2018 – taking the fourth place.

Angus bull Cornamuckla Lord Hardy K222 took fifth place with 3,759 calves on the ground, while Keltic Handsome (OKH) – a Limousin bull – was the sixth most popular beef AI sire with 3,188 calves.

Another Angus bull, Tubridmore Gizmo (RGZ), sired 2,981 calves in the suckler herd to put him in seventh place.

Furthermore, eighth position went to Limousin bull Castleview Gringo (GWO) with 2,942 calves born in 2018, while Tomschoice Imperial (LM 2117) took ninth position overall.

A Simmental bull – Lisnacrann Fifty Cent (SI 2469) – had 2,296 calves on the ground and came in tenth position on the list.

The remaining 10 bulls consisted of five Limousin sires (KJB, LM 2116, OEO, KM 2014 and CWI), two Charolais sires (FWO and CSQ), one Simmental bull (SI 2152), one Angus sire (AA 2025) and one Hereford sire (HE 2043).

Interestingly, no Belgian Blue sires made the top 20 AI sire list; Sultan 0580 (STQ) and Manitou De Belle Eau (DBZ) were the top-ranked Belgian Blue sires, with 950 and 774 calves on the ground, respectively.

In total, some 83,421 calves were born after the bulls falling into the top 20 positions in terms of AI popularity. Limousin-sired calves accounted for 44,468 (53.3%), while Charolais-sired calves stood at 25,027 (30%).

Angus-sired calves represented 8,420 head (10%), Simmental calves made up 4,383 head (5.2%) and Hereford-sired calves stood at 1,123 head (1.3%) of the top 20 AI sires used.

A full list of beef AI sires used in 2018 is available here.

Beef AI on dairy herds 2018

Moving to beef AI sires used on dairy herds in Ireland in 2018, we can see that Angus and Hereford sires were the two most popular breeds.

The Angus sire – Cornamuckla Lord Hardy (KYA) – is ranked in poll position with a total of 16,014 calves on the ground. The top-ranked Hereford sire was Solpoll Kentucky Kid (HE 2043) with 10,135 calves.

Another Hereford bull – Solpoll Handsome (SPL) – falls into third position with 6,109 calves on the ground. Fourth place goes to the Angus sire Tubridmore Gizmo (RGZ); he had 4,199 calves registered in 2018.

Source: ICBF

After Angus and Hereford, the next two most popular breeds used on dairy herds were Belgian Blue and Limousin.

The most popular Belgian Blue sire was Manitou De Belle (DBZ), with 3,861 calves, and the most popular Limousin sire was Elderberry Galahad (EBY) with 2,381 calves on the ground.

Furthermore, the two least popular beef breeds used on dairy were Charolais and Simmental. A full list of beef AI sires used on dairy can be viewed here.

Source: ICBF

Suckler herd AI trends

An analysis undertaken by the ICBF indicates that for the past two years in the suckler herd, overall AI usage has decreased by 6% from 2017 to 2018.

According to the ICBF, this correlates with the reduction of suckler cow numbers that has also taken place during the same period.

From the analysis, the busiest month for AI usage in the suckler herd was June for both years and the total number of beef AI bulls used increased in 2018 from the previous year. So far in 2019, both these trends have remained similar to both 2017 and 2018.

How is 2019 shaping up?

The figures listed below do not take into account DIY serves, so actual usage will be higher in reality.

Firstly, if we look at the most popular beef AI sire used on the suckler herd for the first six months of the year, we can see that Limousin bull – Castleview Gazelle (ZAG) – is the most used sire up to June 30, 2019, with 8,701 AI handheld serves.

Charolais bull Fiston (FSZ) comes in at second place on the list with 7,796 AI handheld serves recorded.

Third on the list is Moondharrig Knell (LM 4217) – a Limousin sire – with 4,626 AI handheld serves recorded.

In addition, Charolais and Limousin sires take nine places in the top 10 list, with Simmental bull, Lisnacrann Fifty Cent (SI 2469) – that has 1,681 AI handheld serves – coming in at eighth position.

Source: ICBF

Secondly, the most popular AI beef sire used on the dairy herd up until June 30, 2019, was Solpoll 1 Kentucky Kid P HYF (HE 2043), with a total of 10,373 handheld serves; this sire has a calving difficulty of 3.2%.

Manitou De Belle Eau (DBZ) – a Belgian Blue bull – is in second position with 9,538 AI handheld serves; DBZ has a calving difficulty of 7.6%.

Angus bull – Cornamuckla Lord Hardy K222 (KYA) – has a total of 8,810 handheld serves and comes in third position. All the AI beef sires – used on the dairy herd – in the top 10 are either Hereford, Belgian Blue or Angus.

Source: ICBF