AI companies are reporting a booming trade in bull straw exports to Europe and far-flung destinations such as Vietnam, Chile and Georgia.
Demand from Turkey for Irish genetics is not limited to just weanlings, with Turkish buyers clamouring for Simmental straws to use on the national beef herd.
Both Dovea AI and Bova AI report strong demand from Turkey, which imports 6.5m doses of semen from all over the world for its 16m-strong cow herd. Turkish buyers are particularly keen on the beefy Irish Simmental.
“They like a particular type of bull that we have – the white head, red body and curly hair – that they don’t necessarily get from the more dual-purpose Simmentals bred in Austria and Germany,” explained Conor Ryan of Dovea. “The Irish Simmental is very beefy by comparison and gives the calves great conformation, while still being easy calving.”
Turkish semen buyers, like their fellow weanling buyers, have stringent demands when it comes to health certification and other requirements. In addition to the usual health status details, the Turkish ministry can look for four- and five-generation pedigrees in AI sires. Owen O’Neill of Bova AI told the Irish Farmers Journal the company has been selling semen to Turkey since 2013 and current sales are “a multiple of our first year in the market”.
“They are willing to try other breeds such as Limousin, Angus, Charolais and a small bit of Belgian Blue, but the bull of the moment in Turkey is the Simmental,” said O’Neill.
Bova is working with the Department of Agriculture here to develop certificates for trade to Mexico, which wants high-end beef straws, and Argentina, which wants both beef and dairy straws.
Semen from dairy sires has been exported by Bova and Dovea to Chile for a number of years. “Irish semen has been going to Chile for a long time,” said Ryan. “There is a 1,000-cow dairy herd in Chile where all the cows are bred from Irish bulls supplied by Dovea.”
Irish semen also goes to Vietnam, where Charolais and Limousin bulls are in demand for use on the beef herd. Serbian buyers want Hereford straws, while the Slovaks are keen for white Belgian Blue sires to use on dairy cows.
Pedigree Angus sires are in demand all over Europe, including Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia, according to Ryan, while buyers in Georgia have taken Jersey semen for the dairy herd. Low EU milk prices in 2016 is one of the drivers behind the demand for beef sires to use on dairy cows.