The Belgian Blue breed is the biggest loser in the changes to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation’s (ICBF) terminal index, which came into effect this week.

The terminal list is dominated by Charolais and Limousin bulls.

Belgian Blue bulls held six positions on the top 10 terminal list in the September 2023 run. They now drop to just two on the most recent run.

The updated ICBF top 10 bull lists have resulted in big gains for the Aberdeen Angus breed, which now occupies six of the top 10 positions on the replacement index, up from two in the top 10 on the last evaluation run in September.

ICBF geneticist Ross Evans said that issues with maternal calving difficulty led to the Belgian Blue breed being downgraded on this evaluation run.

The Simmental breed has also been hit hard with just four Simmental bulls now in the top 50 replacement index bulls in the country.

The Aberdeen Angus bull Kealkil Prime Lad (AA4743) is now the number one bull for breeding replacements in the country. He has a replacement index of €279. However, his carcase weight figure stands at 1.6kg, over 5kg below the average of all Aberdeen Angus bulls and 16kg behind the average of all breeds.

Raising eyebrows

One bull that has raised some eyebrows is the heavily used Limousin bull Powerful Proper (LM7416). He started off 2023 with a five-star replacement index of €126 but has dropped to a two-star bull (€88) in the most recent run.

There has been some concern that farmers who have used four- or five-star bulls during the 2023 breeding season could have an issue meeting the 80% four or five-star sired calves in 2024.

Speaking at Tuesday night’s meeting in Carrick-on-Shannon, ICBF CEO Seán Coughlan said: “It’s my understanding that once the bull was genotyped four- or five-star at the time of AI that this will suffice for SCEP.”