Gene Ireland proving it’s worth

Beef Gene Ireland is the name of Irelands national Beef AI Sire progeny test program. Semen from young Beef AI Sires is distributed to herds and the resulting calves are ‘tested’ for various traits e.g. calving ease, daily gain, fertility & milk. ICBF co-ordinates the program, holding regular meetings with the participating stakeholders; Breed Societies, Commercial Suckler farmers, Pedigree Breeders, NCBC & Dovea. The €uro-Star details of all the young pedigree bulls is extracted from the ICBF database and depending on the breed size, a group of 20-40 bulls is selected. ICBF gets these bulls and their dam’s inspected by their linear scorers. Based on both the €uro-Star figures and the inspection results, certain bulls are purchased by the program for progeny testing.

The program focusses very strongly on the ‘Replacement Index’ of the selected bulls and the milk & fertility of their dam’s. The Gene Ireland system draws on expertise from across the cattle breeding industry so as the best possible group of young bulls are progeny tested. This approach also means that maintaining a pool of ‘outcross’ genetics is possible.

Progeny Test

1000 straws are taken from the bulls. Some of the bulls are bought by AI Companies at this stage and the remainder are sold as Stockbulls. 500 straws are distributed to commercial beef herds for progeny testing. The other 500 straws are kept in storage. Following the results of the progeny test, the 500 straws from the top ‘Graduate’ bulls are made available to pedigree breeders participating in the WHPR program for pedigree matings.
The major benefit from a WHPR Breeder’s point of view is that so much is already known about these bull’s before they use them. Their calving ease, calf quality and crucially how they rate for milk and fertility has already been discovered before they use them on their pedigree cow’s. The single biggest frustration that pedigree breeders have is the stars on the bull’s they use changing over time. Given that these ‘Graduate’ bulls have already had progeny assessed, this element of the unknown has been removed.

First ‘Graduates’

This year heralds a major first for Gene Ireland as the progeny test results of the first of the young bulls become known. 2 bulls have met the Replacement Index €uro-Star levels and reliabilities to be classed ‘Graduates’ and have their semen released.

Pedigree Breeders taking part in the WHPR program have been notified about these bulls and participating breeders wishing to use these bulls should contact ICBF at 023-8820452. Beef bulls from all of the beef breeds are on progeny test, so complimentary semen from the ‘Graduate’ bulls will be available to breeders from all the breeds.

The first 2 bulls to come through the progeny test program are typical of the type of bulls that will be coming through i.e. High Replacement Index, easy calving with an excellent maternal back pedigree but also good on the Terminal traits.


LZZ – Lisnacrann Demertios
• Bred by Michael Oliver, Tullinacurra, Swinford Co.Mayo.
• Sired by ‘Kilbride Farm Newry’ who is rated 5 stars for ‘milk’ at 99% reliable.
• Dam is ‘Lisnacrann Perfect Start’ who is also the dam of the NCBC AI sire ‘Lisnacrann Fifty Cent’ (SI2469).
• Dam had a mature weight of 805kgs.
• LZZ has 395 calves with a calving survey. His ‘Calving Difficulty %’ is 5.8%.
• Daughters receiving very good ratings by Irish Suckler farmers for ‘milkability’.
• 5 star bull for ‘Docility’ and ‘Carcass Weight’.

YBH – Ballym Henri
• Bred by Louise Quinn, Ballymoran House, Edenderry, Co.Offaly
• Sired by the noted French Maternal Bull ‘Pinay’ who is rated 111 for ‘milk’ in France.
• Dam is the ‘Pirate’ sired cow ‘Ballym Esprit’ who has a calving interval of 365 days after 6 calves.
• Dam had a mature weight of 756kgs.
• YBH has 167 calves with a calving survey. His ‘Calving Difficulty %’ is 7.3%.
• 5 star bull for ‘Docility’ and ‘Carcass Weight’.

LZZ – Lisnacrann Demertios

YBH – Ballym Henri

YBH is the sire of the 2016 Senior Champion at the Charolais Christmas Cracker sale, Ballym Louis XIV (below). Louis was retained and is now the Stockbull for the Ballym herd.

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