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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Beef embryos for Friesian cows in US to reduce dairy bull calf numbers

Beef Embryos

Implanting dairy cows with fertilised embryos from beef-bred cattle is a breeding tool that some farmers across the US have embraced in recent years for the “betterment of their business”.

Some producers have turned to Simplot’s SimVitroHerdFlex-branded beef embryos, which “give dairy farmers the chance to sell 100% beef calves to bring extra value”.

Select Sires is the “first and only” provider of these beef embryos, which aim to “enhance a dairy farmer’s profit potential” by creating and marketing higher value beef calves than dairy-beef cross-breds or straight-bred dairy calves.

The partnership strives to ensure that farmers have easy access to “superior, strategic” breeding genetics.

According to the partners, this IVF solution gives dairy farmers an increased opportunity to sell 100% beef calves of high-quality born from pregnancies that they do not need as replacements.

They say it enables farmers to earn premiums for full beef calves and explore an alternative revenue stream.

Simultaneously, it says that dairy farmers can advance elite genetics within their dairy herd and appropriately manage heifer inventories.

Beef embryos

They claim that HerdFlex beef embryos offer a way to accomplish their objectives, producing feed efficient and genetically uniform progeny that are high in carcass merit and marbling.

According to the programme organisers, depending on prices for day-old calves, these particular “beef embryos can earn up to 30x more than a day-old Jersey and 6x more than a day-old Holstein calf”.

“The newborn calves are worth more than a traditional dairy-beef animal sold into the beef supply chain and even more if dairies opt to retain ownership.”

A spokesperson said: “That is because beef calves with superior genetics have the potential to earn a more desirable return on investment compared to dairy-beef crossbred calves or straight dairy calves.”

“Resulting calves from these beef embryos offer additional benefits related to feeding and finishing,” they said.

The partners say that HerdFlex beef embryos – which they breed from black Angus-based dams – are grade 1, high-quality and commercially produced specifically for placement in dairy cows.

“Each mating is to a proven Select Sires beef sire to maximise the resulting embryo’s genetic potential and value for key traits such as calving ease, weaning and yearling weight, dry matter intake, as well as carcass weight, marbling, ribeye area and fat and ribeye area.”

According to information obtained, embryos currently cost in the region of $55 each, and it takes about 2.4 embryos to achieve pregnancy.

Therefore, it estimates the cost per calf to be about $132, which based on today’s currency conversion rates, equates to circa €124.

It noted that some firm are charging a further $8/implant.

Other articles on That’s Farming:

Dairy-bred bull calf births declining in NI

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