Breeding Series 2023 in association with Eurogene, LIC and AI Services
The increased availability of sexed semen has resulted in a rise in the use of beef semen on dairy cows.
One such farmer that taking up this breeding method is Simon Breen, who farms near Emly in Co. Tipperary and milks a herd of 250 spring-calving Jersey-cross (JEX) cows.
Simon’s herd has an average economic breeding index (EBI) of €206.
The production performance from the herd is excellent, and along with working on that, Simon also has a focus on the quality of beef calf that is coming from his herd.
Continental sires are used regularly on 490-500kg cows, with no issues when it comes to calving.
The recent changes to the nitrates regulations haven’t had any impact on Simon’s breeding policy, with his herd producing 1kg of milk solids/kg of liveweight – making them highly efficient cows.
Sexed semen has played a key role on Simon’s farm for the last number of years and will continue to do so for this year and into the future.
The plan is to increase its usage on the farm in 2023, with all the heifers to be served to sexed semen on a synchronisation programme.
Simon also plans to pick the top 100 cows in the herd and they will also be served with sexed semen.
The use of heat detection/health-monitoring collars on the cows means that Simon can see the best time to serve cows to achieve the highest conception rates possible.
Simon will select his bull team for 2023 with the aid of his LIC breeding advisor, David Power.
The bull selection criteria for the herd has changed in the last number of years, with Simon looking for bulls that are high in fertility based on breeding worth (BW) and bulls that are high in protein percentage.
Volume is not something that is chased on the farm as Simon believes that days in milk will solve any issues with volume.
Although the bulls used would have low figures based on EBI, this does not transfer into the calves.
Animal group Number Milk kg
Milk Fertility Carbon Calving Beef Maintenance Management Health EBI 2022 calves 80 -100
16.4 – 0.36
7.7 – 0.2
€89 €71 €19 €39 €-45 €31 €8 €4 €215 2023 calves 70 -71
16.3 – 0.34
8.9 – 0.2
€93 €74 €19 €39 €-40 €30 €6 €-1 €220
The average EBI for the 2023 calves is €220, with a figure of €93 for milk and €74 for fertility.
The use of beef in the herd is set to increase for the 2023 breeding season, with heifers set to get beef straws for the first time.
Simon plans to use Angus sires on the heifers because he said that in the past, there were issues with buyers concerned about pure black calves.
The genotyping of the herd will ensure that the correct breed is associated with the calf.
Continental sires have been used on the cows for the last few years with great success; sires with calving difficulties of up to 17% have been used on the cows.
The same beef sire has been used on all the cows in the herd, with Simon saying that the cross-bred cow will calf anything.
For 2023, Simon will be picking beef bulls that will give him calves with the best Commercial Beef Value (CBV), rather than picking bulls from the Dairy Beef Index (DBI).