The Gene Ireland maternal beef breeding program is starting to purchase bulls, which is a major step forward for Irish beef breeding. A total of 20-25 bulls are expected to be purchased over the next number of weeks, with semen then available from these bulls for the 2014 program. All purchased bulls will have undergone a rigorous selection process which involves; (i) the bull having met various genetic index and ancestry criterion, as defined by each breeding program group and (ii) the bull (and his dam) having passed a visual inspection, as carried out by independent ICBF linear scorers. In addition, bulls are only considered if the herd is a signed up participant of the Gene Ireland maternal beef breeding program. Only bulls that have passed all three criteria are then considered for potential purchase.
Once purchased it is planned that the bulls will undergo on-farm health testing, after which they will be sent to one of the partner AI companies involved in the Gene Ireland program. From there, semen will be collected from the bulls (a maximum of 1000 straws, 500 for the commercial progeny test and 500 for future mating’s), following which the bulls will be either sold on to one of the partner AI companies and/or sold for commercial breeding.
The program is being overseen by a total of eleven breeding program committees which have been established across the various breeds involved in the program. These include; Angus, Aubrac, Belgian Blue, Blonde d’Aquitainne, Charolais, Hereford, Limousin, Parthenaise, Saler, Shorthorn and Simmental. Each committee then includes participants from each of the key stakeholders, including ICBF, breeders, commercial suckler farmers, herdbooks and AI companies. The committees are chaired by Michael Doran, vice-chairman of the board of ICBF. All decisions regarding the running off the program, including the purchasing of bulls, must be ultimately sanctioned by the board of ICBF, who provide the direction and funding for the program.
In addition, mating advice lists have been developed for program participants, which will give an insight into the sires that each of the breeding programs feels will be of future interest and value to the program. These lists can be used at the discretion of the breeder.
It is a very exciting time for Irish beef breeding. The Tully central progeny test is now underway (note: a major open day will take place at the Tully centre on Saturday 12th October, with more details to follow), as is genomics research, including the genotyping of young pedigree beef calves as part of the pedigree registration process (a first in the context of global beef breeding). The establishment of the Gene Ireland maternal beef breeding program is now another vital piece in the overall jigsaw towards delivering more profit from beef breeding for Irish farmers and the wider industry.
Anyone interested in becoming involved in the Gene Ireland maternal beef breeding program should contact ICBF HerdPlus on 1850 600 900. We would be delighted to deal with your enquiry.