DEAR SIR

The article headlined “Buyer beware on AI company bull panels” in the Irish Farmers Journal dated 17 April 2021 is an opinion by the writer and is not supported by the available data. The Munster Bovine and Progressive Genetics breeding programmes work to support and implement the science developed by Teagasc and ICBF. The breeding programmes are not developed based on opinions.

When it comes to breeding, farmers should follow the best scientific advice available. The most recent Teagasc publication in relation to breeding was in December 2020 (“Teagasc Dairy Breeding Policy for 2021 breeding season”) and advises as follows:

  • 1 Use high-EBI AI genetics to generate the required number of replacement heifers and in tandem increase the EBI of your herd. Target your heifers and highest EBI cows to generate replacements.
  • 2 A balanced team of dairy AI sires should be used across the heifers and cows selected for breeding replacements. This will increase the reliability of the sire team as a whole. The optimum number of AI bulls to be used will vary with herd size.
  • There are a number of errors in the article, in particular the comparison of the 2018 and 2021 EBIs for bulls without taking account of the changes that were made to the EBI evaluations in 2020 which rendered the comparison totally invalid.

    There was also an undercurrent of criticism on the panels of bulls. The panels presented by Munster Bovine and Progressive Genetics are made available to assist farmers in selecting teams of bulls which may be recommended by Teagasc or their breeding advisers.

    Second-guessing the science makes no sense for farmers who need to use all the best technology and advice in making the most informed decisions for their herd in the long run. We recommend that farmers stick to the science and the evidence will be apparent in your herd in the long run.