Some 15,000 letters are to issue to dairy farmers this week about new dairy breeding guidelines, which are focused on improving the genetic merit of all calves from the dairy herd, both dairy and beef calves.
The guidelines, compiled by a Department-led dairy calf working group consisting of key industry stakeholders, focus on improving the quality of calves coming from the dairy herd.
Areas covered in the guidelines include:The generation of high EBI replacement females for the dairy herd.The use of the new dairy beef index for generating higher value beef animals from the dairy herd.The use of breeding tools such as the ICBF herd EBI score card, the ICBF sire advice tool, and the ICBF active bull lists for dairy and dairy beef breeding.
The Department of Agriculture has said the letters are being sent by the ICBF and will also contain a new ICBF herd EBI score card. The new score card is designed to help herd-owners identify the strengths and weaknesses of their dairy herd from a genetics standpoint.
Commenting on the development, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said: “The new guidelines are a result of the collective effort of all stakeholders working together, to ensure that we continue to improve the quality of calves from our dairy herd in the future”.
Michael Doran, chair of ICBF, said: “Helping farmers identify where their herd is strong or weak from a genetics standpoint is a major step forward for our industry, as it will help herd-owners focus on the traits that will increase the profitability and sustainability of their farms in the future”.
Commenting on the new guidelines, IFA dairy chair Tom Phelan said: “Dairy farmers do not want to sacrifice the milk solids, easy calving, fertility and other positive dairy traits they have been selecting for using the EBI for years.
"The work carried out by ICBF and Teagasc, and supported by the other stakeholders, gives farmers options to keep those strong dairy traits while using strategies to improve the beef quality of their bull calves."
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