ICBF HerdPlus has undertaken an analysis of the births from the dairy herd for the year to date.
The data shows the changes in the popularity of different breeds and highlights changes in the breeding programme of Irish farms.
The latest trends are very informative as they highlight the breeding decisions made in 2019 in response to the factors in play at that time, according to ICBF.
The growth of the dairy herd has continued into 2020, with a total increase of 3.3% of cows calved in 2020, which is a 14.5% increase for the 5-year period of 2016-2020.
Increase in beef breeds
The use of beef breeds in the dairy herd has seen a 7% increase for the year to date, an increase of 36.1% for the 5-year period. Angus and Hereford breeds continue to dominate for use on dairy cows, accounting for 78% of the total.
Other beef breeds have seen considerable increases, such as Aubrac at 55.3% and Belgian Blue at 25.4%, albeit from a much lower base.
Decline in Jersey
After years of increasing popularity within the national dairy herd, the Jersey breed has seen a significant decline in 2019, falling by 17.3% from the previous year.
ICBF claim that this reflects the challenges associated with the market for lower value Jersey bull calves, which has become a significant issue over the last 12-18 months.
Latest trends indicate that this trend will continue for the 2020 breeding season, with a further 21% fall in the use of the Jersey breed expected.
Commenting on the latest trends, presented in the table below, ICBF stated that it is important to take into account that these are heavily skewed towards the dairy breeds as the majority of beef-bred calves are born between March and May.
“ICBF HerdPlus will repeat the analysis in a number of weeks’ time to give a complete picture for the spring calving season, at which stage, we expect to have over 1.4 million dairy cows calved, with almost half of these to beef bulls.”
The following table has been produced by ICBF:
Image source: Pictured: Turloughmore Magnificent – image via Irish Aubrac Cattle Society Facebook – credit: Progressive Genetics/Tricia Kennedy