With the breeding season around the corner for a lot of dairy farmers, there are a lot of factors to take into account when selecting bulls for your cows.
In this video, George Ramsbottom, Teagasc dairy specialist, gives provides guideline points for the coming breeding season.
“The first point is to use enough bulls in your team. So, typically, for 100 cows and heifers that are being bred, we’re talking about a team of at least 8 bulls. No one bull should be the sire to more than 15% of the calves.”
“For a herd of 300 to 400, we’re looking at a team of 13 to 14 bulls. Again, to minimise the risk of any individual bull rising or falling.”
He explained that on the ICBF website, you can select high-EBI bulls that are considered low-risk for breeding heifers. “The last thing we want with maiden heifers is a spate of calving difficulty during the busy calving season.”
“When you’re deciding on breeding aims for the herd, look at your herd EBI scorecard from ICBF and pick a team of bulls that’s going to complement the strengths and weaknesses in the genetic profile of your own herd.”
“When you’re using the Dairy-Beef Index to select your beef bulls, make sure to use the calving difficulty and beefing merit scores to select appropriate bulls for the cows and the heifers.”
“Target high-EBI cows and heifers in your herd to breed replacements from. I think it is important to breed as many heifers as possible to dairy AI because typically these are going to be the highest EBI stock on your farm and they’re going to give you the greatest genetic merit gains in the years ahead,” he concluded.