With the upcoming breeding season almost upon us, it is time to start thinking about your 2024 bull selection.

The ICBF Sire Advice tool simplifies bull selection, eliminates any inbreeding risk and identifies the optimum mating’s to maximise genetic gain in your herd. The tool also identifies the optimum beef AI bull mating to minimise calving issues and maximise beef merit. Sire Advice is available to all dairy HerdPlus users.

There are 2 Sire Advice options to choose from:

Sire Advice Plus: Narrow your selection of dairy and beef bulls by entering ranges for traits that are important for your herd. For example, you may only want bulls above a certain protein percentage or from a specific AI organisation. Use the sexed semen options and the latest dairy beef mating options to maximise the CBV of the calves produced. This is a valuable tool in the context of a fully integrated dairy and beef herd mating programme. 

Manually Enter Bulls: If you have already selected your team of bulls either dairy or beef, you can manually enter their AI codes and run the application. 

It is recommended that you use a team of bulls across your cows and heifers. The recommended team size varies depending on the herd size. The bull teams should be used evenly across the herd (max 15% per bull).

Step 1: Female Selector

Ideally, only females with an EBI of at least €170 should be considered for mating with high-EBI dairy bulls (either sexed or conventional). 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.

Using the tick boxes, females can be selected for culling, sexed mating, beef mating, crossbreed mating, or selective mating. Farmers can filter other criteria, including lactation, EBI, sub-indexes, Carbon, Milk KG, Fat, and Protein percentage.

Step 2: Bull Selector

Before selecting your 2024 bull team, refer to your EBI scorecard to identify your herd’s strengths and weaknesses. Once you have decided on the areas you wish to improve in your herd, use the sliders in Sire Advice Plus to identify dairy and beef sires from the ICBF active bull lists that align with your breeding goals. In 2024, we added a new addition where the bulls selected now are saved and retained to make any bull team changes easier, should they be required before the breeding season commences. AI company bull teams may also be selected and used, and Dairy Gene Ireland will appear as the team once the sires become available.

Step 3 & 4. Decide on straw usage & Review the Bull Team

The screen allows the user to change the percentage usage or the number of straws for each bull depending on the selections made at the Female Selector stage. The bulls identified for each female category will appear on the Straw Allocation pages.

Three dairy matings and three beef matings are proposed for each female (if the Dairy Beef Mating function is enabled). Females selected for sexed semen will receive one dairy sexed mating, which is signified by an (S). The ‘Detailed with Sub Indexes’ tab and the ‘Detailed with Traits’ tab show the expected progeny performance due to the Bull 1 mating.

 Step 5: Save to AI Handheld/Breeding Chart

Sire advice can be generated multiple times. When happy with your bull selection, press “Send to Breeding Chart/AI Handheld“. Having your sire selections readily available on your technician’s handheld or the HerdPlus app will ensure quick and easy data recording during the breeding season.

Dairy farmers are reminded to switch to beef mating only once they are finished with dairy AI on the Sire advice landing page.

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. By choosing the most suitable cow/bull pairings, farmers can easily avoid inbreeding and breed a more balanced female while ensuring that the next generation’s genetics are superior.

Help videos for running Sire Advice are available on the ICBF YouTube channel or contact the HerdPlus team on 023-8820452 or email [email protected].