ICBF has recently undertaken analysis for AI service trends for the past 2 years in the beef suckler herd. Overall AI usage has decreased nationally by 6% from 2017-2018 . This correlates with the reduction of suckler cow numbers that has also taken place during the same period.

The busiest month for AI usage in the suckler herd is June for both years. On a positive note, the total number of beef AI bulls used, did increase in 2018 from the previous year. So far in 2019 (year to date), both these trends have remained similar both 2017& 2018 trends.

Table 1. 2018 Suckler Cow Serves

Table 2. 2017 Suckler Cow Serves

There are many advantages suckler farmers can avail of when using AI in their herds:

  • It can help smaller herds avoid the purchase and maintenance costs of keeping a stock bull.
  • AI offers access to the top genetics across all beef breeds on both Replacement & Terminal index.
  • AI allows farmers the ability to selectively AI heifers or cows on traits they wish to focus on such easy calving bulls.
  • The production of quality 4/5 Eurostar female replacements in herds.
  • The risk of bull infertility is also eliminated when using AI.
  • AI removes the health & safety risk of having a stockbull on the farm and the additional requirement of special winter housing for bull.

Good AI success depends on many factors such as:

  • Good heat detection on farm
  • Good infrastructure/handling Facilities on farm
  • Overall good farm management by farmer.
  • Weight & body condition of animal.
  • Health of animal.

Ultimately, suckler farmers should evaluate their own breeding performance by reviewing their latest Beef HerdPlus reports. This should help determine which type of breeding system to use, factoring in improved genetic gain, production costs and overall farm management.