The suckler beef Gene Ireland panel for Autumn 2023 is being launched this week and we are delighted to provide our customers with the latest panel of new AI bulls. These bulls have been selected by ICBF and our programme partners as part of the national breeding programme in collaboration with DAFM, ICBF, commercial farmers, pedigree breeders and breed societies. The beef Gene Ireland programme is becoming more and more popular every year as commercial and pedigree breeders are seeing the benefits of using these new bulls.

Some of the most used AI bulls in the Irish suckler herd have come through the beef Gene Ireland programme. Bulls such as Intelagri Matteo (AA4089), Fiston (FSZ), Castleview Gazelle (ZAG), Curraheen Earp (SI2152), Ewdenvale Ivor (LM2014) and Moondharrig Knell (LM4217) all began their AI careers in Gene Ireland. These bulls have gone on to be the cornerstone of many herds with huge numbers of their progeny being retained as breeding females and bulls.

Figure 1: Drumline S 1185 (LM9577) – the highest Replacement Index bull on the panel.

The purpose of the beef Gene Ireland programme is to progeny test bulls for AI companies and breed societies and provide Irish suckler farmers with high index bulls as quickly as possible. Increasingly these bulls are young Irish bulls identified via the ICBF database. By progeny testing these bulls, we can prove their indexes and confirm their genetic merit which allows the stakeholders of GI (breed societies, AI Companies and breeders) to optimise future breeding programmes with elite proven sires at the base.

The central database within ICBF allows data to flow from all corners of the agricultural sector (vets, meat factories, AI companies, breed societies, farmers, researchers) to the one centre where it can be analysed and used for the benefit of everyone to provide high reliability data and traceability. This allows AI companies to identify Irish bulls from herds with good data recording and high indexes for future use in the national herd after being tested by Gene Ireland.

Herdowners that use GI bulls record accurately the date of insemination, the date of calving, calving difficulty and liveweights throughout the animals life. This information can then be used to accurately identify traits such as gestation length, calving difficulty, ADG, milk and fertility.

Herdowners can buy straws from ICBF for €7/straw (delivered to you or your technicians tank) with a minimum order of 10 straws (2 bulls x 5 straws). The actual use of these straws in the national herd is essential to the success of the programme. ICBF may also contact the owner in the future to purchase progeny from the GI sires for future testing at our progeny test centre in Tully.

Figure 2: Clenagh Superior (CH8968) – the highest Terminal Index bull on the panel.

The bull panel is divided into 2 categories – Replacement and Terminal. Breeders have a choice in what bulls they can order straws from, and all the bulls are 5 star on at least one of the indexes.

The Terminal Index section contains 12 bulls with an average Terminal Index of €152, comprised of Charolais, Limousin and Belgian Blue bulls.

The bull panel this year is both exceptional quality and high genetic merit. By joining the Gene Ireland programme you are helping to drive the rate of genetic gain in not only your herd but also the national herd. You could also get first access to the next ZAG or LM2014 bull.

If you are interested in using straws of these high index bulls or have any questions in relation to the program, please contact ICBF on 023 8820452 or email [email protected].