In March 2022, new dairy beef mating’s were incorporated into Sire Advice as a new additional feature to the main breeding tool. This has been a collaborative effort between ICBF and Teagasc Moorepark team ably led by Donagh Berry, head research geneticist at Teagasc and director in the Vista Milk SFI centre. The Dairy Beed Index can be used by dairy farmers to breed dairy beef calves which can maximise their Commercial Beef Value  while minimising any calving risk. This we hope in time, will lead to better quality dairy beef calves been purchased and reared by beef farmers and further aid integration of both the dairy and beef industry in Ireland. The DBI can also be considered by pedigree beef bull breeders who produce and sell bulls to dairy farmers.

The new dairy beef options in Sire advice tries to find the optimum and balanced dairy beef mating in terms of beef value of the progeny produced while not causing any increased calving difficulty for the dairy farmer. 

Sire Advice Steps Beef-on-Dairy Mating’s

  1. Farmer has the option to select females for beef only or Sire advice can generate both dairy and beef mating’s. There is flexibility to do both using the breeding tool.
  2. Farmers selects their own DBI beef bull team. The quality of dairy beef progeny born will only be as good as the DBI sire team chosen. This is a key point to remember.
  3. The dairy beef mating algorithm will then mate all the dairy beef sires against all selected females in the herd to produce the best dairy beef mating for the individual cow. The linear program factors in the females ability to calve (females pelvic width), the calving difficulty of the chosen sire, whilst generating a dairy beef mating that maximizes the probability of the progeny born meeting current factory carcass specifications. Inbreeding is not an issue in the dairy beef mating program in relation to beef sires used on dairy females.

Algorithm Framework

This is broken down into 3 components to generate the “Mate value”.


  • Cost of calving
  • Value of calving (gestating length and calving difficulty)

This algorithm factors in the probability of the selected sire producing large calves. The second component factored into the algorithm; does the cow herself produce large calves along with her ability to calf (pelvic width). Both the sire and dam make up 50% each of the genetics of the calf produced.


  • Calf Mortality (live calf to reap benefit of polledness)


The beef component factors are

Beef spec i.e. a penalty is applied if progeny are not meeting minimum carcass specifications

  • Price -breed bonus (e.g. Angus) built in.
  • Feed intake & Docility


The new dairy beef options integrate very well with the existing dairy mating’s in Sire Advice for farmers who regularly use the breeding tool. What is of the foremost importance in the new dairy beef mating’s, is producing a live dairy beef calf from the dairy beef mating.

Sire advice generates a dairy beef mating primarily weighted against putting a difficult calving dairy beef sire on a female that is genetically predisposed to having a difficult calving. The program then looks at improving the carcass/beef value of the calves produced. This cannot be improved without a live dairy beef produced first. It is critical that dairy farmers select DBI bull teams with a variance of calving risk (both low and medium) with a good average range beef sub indexes to maximise the potential of this new breeding tool.

We would like to sincerely thank Donagh Berry for his work on this collaborative project and we would like to acknowledge the following video that he has kindly put together explaining in detail, how the new dairy beef mating’s are generated in the Sire Advice program.

If you have any questions or need any help or guidance on the new dairy beef mating’ in Sire Advice for the remainder of the current Spring breeding season, please contact the HerdPlus Team on 023-8820452 or email [email protected] .