Dairy herds whose EBI puts them in the lowest 40% of herds nationally have been advised to use beef straws on all cows and buy in replacement heifers from higher-EBI herds.
Many of these herds at the lower end of EBI herd rankings are too far behind the country’s top cows to catch up, even if only the best AI bulls are used across the herd, Munster Bovine CEO Doreen Corridan has stated.
Corridan told the Cattle Association of Veterinary Ireland (CAVI) conference last week that the best-bred herds with an EBI in the top two-fifths of all herds should be breeding surplus replacements above what they themselves will need, to allow for high genetic merit heifers to be sold to lower-EBI herds.
Doing so would make the best use of the genetics available in the national herd, she suggested.
“These herds [the bottom 40%] haven’t got time to actually catch up to the top 40% here. The question is if [the farmer’s herd] is too far back – one and two star on the main EBIs and so forth – we really recommend that it would be a lot better to buy in replacements and go beef across the herd.
“What we do not want to see now, as dairy herds are plateauing and they no longer need surplus replacements for themselves, we do not want the top 40% putting a beef bull in their top, even their middle 20% or 30% of the herd, because they are still double what [the bottom quarter of EBI] are.”
Corridan said high somatic cell counts (SCC) and poor cow fertility were the biggest causes for cows being culled early on farms.
“If you look at why Irish cows get out of dairy herds, they either get out if they are not in calf or if they are high cell count,” she said.