Never before have there been so many considerations when it comes to sire selection.
There is a whole plethora of considerations now outside of the core production and fertility traits that bulls were traditionally appraised on.
There is no doubt in my mind that breeding low methane-emitting cows is going to be an important factor in the years to come. The introduction of the carbon sub-index in the EBI is the first step on that journey.
With confirmation that the early slaughter of calves less than eight weeks of age is to be banned from next year, farmers who have been sending calves for slaughter will have to find alternative outlets.
Breeding higher beef merit calves is one obvious solution and it’s the preferred direction for the industry to go in.
Combined with a national genotyping programme to ensure accuracy of parentage and the reliability of the calf’s commercial beef value (CBV), the sire or dam breed could soon become irrelevant. Instead, the important figure will be the CBV.
For this to work, we need dairy and beef farmers to buy into it. The cost to dairy farmers will be more sexed semen, more beef AI, and using more bulls with a higher beef value, which may result in longer gestation lengths and harder calvings.
In my opinion and with the increased use of beef AI on the dairy herd in mind, I believe that breeding dairy cows with good fertility is more important than ever.
Research has shown that cows with a high fertility sub-index return to cycling activity sooner and have a greater chance of going in calf in the first three weeks.
Using more beef bull is going to test the compact calving model that farmers have spent generations trying to perfect.
Fertility is critical for both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and farm profit and so the relative emphasis placed on it should be increased.