With the upcoming breeding season almost upon us, it is time to start thinking about your 2024 bull selection.  In 2023, over 4,000 herds ran sire advice and over 1,500 herds used the new sexed semen options last year. In 2022, 30,110 females were selected for beef only on sire advice. 2023 saw a further increase with 45,000 females selected for beef mating in 2023.

Sire Advice is a decision support tool which allows the user to select bulls they wish to use for the breeding season. The Sire Advice program will match these bulls to cows to maximise EBI, reduce the variation between milk and fertility and avoid inbreeding.  The tool also identifies the optimum beef AI bull mating to minimise calving issues and maximise beef merit of the dairy beef calves. Sire Advice is available to all dairy HerdPlus users.

Benefits of Sire Advice

  • Helps dairy farmers select a team of bulls (dairy and beef) based on their specific breeding objectives.
  • Sire advice generates the best dairy & beef mating, which maximises the genetic gain in your herd.
  • Eliminates any inbreeding risk.
  •  All Sire advice matings can be uploaded to AI technician handhelds & printed on breeding charts.

What is your breeding goal?

There as 6 key steps (see Image 1) to keep in mind when selecting dairy and beef sires.

  1. Identify your herd genetics by reviewing the latest EBI report & scorecard .
  2. Define your breeding goal (improve fertility/kgs of milk solids). Consult your farm/breeding adviser to establish goals for improving your herd.
  3. Breed from the best females in your herd. Females with an EBI of greater than €170 should be targeted for breeding dairy replacements. Heifers are typically the highest EBI animals in all dairy herds and should be targeted for dairy AI. ). All remaining females should be considered for mating with beef bulls with a high Dairy Beef Index (DBI) value from the start of the breeding season.
  4. Use the ICBF Active bull list to select your dairy sires.
  5. Use the Dairy Beef Index to select your beef AI sires.
  6. Use Sire Advice to generate the best dairy and beef mating’s for your herd. These matings can then be sent to your AI technician’s handheld or HerdPlus breeding chart or displayed on the farm software App.
Image 1. Six key steps to help manage your breeding season

There are 2 Sire Advice options available:

  1. Sire Advice Plus: Use the female selector tools, sexed semen and dairy beef options. Cross breeding option available to maximize heterosis and selective mating options. Use the slider tools to select both dairy and beef sires to achieve your breeding goals.
  2. Manually Enter Bulls: If you have already selected your team of dairy and beef bulls, you can manually enter their AI codes and run the programme.

Follow the bull 1 mating choice to ensure even usage across the herd and the best sire choice from your team of bulls (max usage of 15% per bull is recommended).

Sire advice can be generated multiple times. When happy with your bull selection, press “Send to Breeding Chart/AI Handheld”. This will ensure that the sire’s chosen will appear on your technician’s handheld, or the HerdPlus app will ensure quick and easy data recording during the breeding season. Once Sire Advice has been generated, farmers should contact their AI companies to order their selected bulls.

Sire Advice enables farmers to make the most informed breeding decisions quickly and efficiently. By using the application, farmers can maximise the genetic potential of future progeny in their herd, subsequently becoming more profitable.

For more information on how to run Sire Advice for your herd this breeding season, please contact the HerdPlus office on 023-8820452.