Why using AI in a pedigree herd is a smart move

In order to improve the ‘Euro-Star’ and ‘EBI’ figures of your pedigree animals and in particular your Stockbull, you will make more progress with your figures if you use some ‘AI’ across your herd.

This is not an article promoting AI use just for the sake of it. If you are interested in your animals having the most accurate Euro-Star figures possible then using some AI Sires on your pedigree females is a smart move.

This is also especially true if you are running a Stockbull with your pedigree herd. Of course one of the reasons that you are using a Stockbull is for whatever reasons AI does not suit you which is understandable. However as difficult as it may be for you, doing some AI would make a big difference to the actual figures that your Stockbull gets.

Background

Basically, at its simplest the evaluation system in ICBF that produces the ‘Euro-Stars’ works on the basis of comparison. It compares how the progeny of one bull perform for a particular trait compared to the progeny of another one.

Take a trait like calving as an example. There is an assumption being made that the same approach to calving is being taken on the farm for all the calves born on a farm. Therefore, after allowing for the age of the cows, their breed and genetic merit for calving difficulty, the main reason for calving difficulty comes down largely to the genetics of the bull for calving.

Scenario 1 – ‘Bull A’ is the only bull on the farm

As is the case in a lot of farms, there is just one bull siring all the calves. In this situation the ICBF evaluation system cannot make a comparison. It still uses the calving ease data to give the bull his ‘Calving Difficulty %’ figure. So if ‘Bull A’ sired 30 calves and they were all born easy then his ‘Calving Difficulty %’ could go from 6.5% down to 6.0%.

Scenario 2 – ‘Bull A’ is being used alongside an AI Sire

However if calves from an AI bull were born alongside his calves then the ICBF system can say ‘Okay, we know that the AI Bull has sired calves in lots of herds and is very easy calving but this Stockbull has shown that his calving ease is just as easy, so we will now give the Stockbull more credit in his ‘Calving Difficulty %’ figure. Because ICBF has the AI bull to compare ‘Bull A’s’ calving ease against it is more confident and so his ‘Calving Difficulty %’ could go from 6.5% down to 5.2%.

That is just an example for calving but the same holds true for all the other traits. Your Stockbull’s breeding values will benefit from there being some AI sired calves born alongside his own. This holds true for beef and dairy Stockbulls.

On average, about 55% of beef pedigree calves are sired by AI Bulls. Small herd sizes, outfarms and heat detection of course makes AI difficult for pedigree breeders but in terms of getting the most accurate figures on your animals for sale it is extremely worthwhile doing.