647,698 beef calves (beef sire x beef dam) were born on Irish farms in the first 6 months of 2020. Of these, 109,840 are registered to beef AI sires. This represents approximately 17% of all beef calves born. 55% of the calves were registered to a Stockbull with 27% approximately having no sire recorded.
Below is a list of the 10 most used beef AI sires in the first half of 2020. (Figures based on calves born from January to June 2020 with a sire recorded).
It is evident that beef farmers are focusing on using bulls of high genetic merit combined with a high reliability figure. The average replacement index of the 10 bulls is €118 (5 stars across breed). Similarly, on the terminal index, the group average is quite impressive at €132 (5 stars across breed)
The ICBF Beef Gene Ireland breeding programme has produced 6 of the 10 bulls listed above. ZAG, FSZ, LZF, LM4217, LM2014 and FWO are all Gene Ireland graduate bulls. The purpose of the Gene Ireland programme is to increase the rate of genetic gain through gathering essential data on the progeny of Gene Ireland bulls. As a result, there is a significant increase in the reliability of the bull’s figures at a very young age. Every Spring and Autumn a panel of young high genetic merit test bulls are made available to farmers for just €5 per straw.
If we look beyond the top 10 bulls, we can see the most used bulls within in each Breed as shown in the tables below along with their replacement and terminal indexes based on the May 2020 evaluation.
The top 3 Angus sires listed above sired 3.3% of all the AI bred progeny in the first half of 2020. They average a replacement index of €121 (5 stars within and across breed)
On the Simmental front Lisnacrann Fifty cent leads the way with 1427 calves recorded to him to date for the first half of the year. Curaheen Earp also appears 5th on the ICBF Active Bull List with a Replacement Index of €218. These 3 bulls account for 2.8% of the beef AI calves born with these 3 bulls averaging €181. (5 stars within and across breed)
The top 3 Hereford sires can be seen in the table above with some 957 calves beef calves born between these 3 bulls. They have an average replacement index of €136. (5 stars within and across breed).
For the Belgian Blue Breed it is DBZ that leads the way for 2020 with some 526 calves registered to him in the first half of the year. Between the 3 bulls they average €45 on replacement index while delivering a typically strong performance on the terminal traits with an average index of €141. (5 stars within and across breed on the Terminal Index).
In 2019, the total number of beef calves with a known beef AI sire amounted to 165,510. This represents approximately 19% of all beef calves born in 2019.
Interestingly, 23.3% of the calves born in the second half of the year were from an AI sire, compared to 17.6% in the first half of 2019. A big driver of this is the perceived reduced workload associated with AI and heat detections when cows are indoors.
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