This was the message at the 10th annual Hereford Prime sale in Newport Mart on Saturday, when procurement officer with Hereford Prime Michael Cleary, was asked if dairy farmers registering calves as sire unknown was an issue.
Cleary replied: “Definitely it’s a huge problem, now I think it will be solved because all cattle will be DNA’ed eventually and that mightn’t be as far away as we think, but there’s a huge difference in the sire of the animal, there’s as big a difference within the breeds as between the breeds.
“That goes for every breed, that goes for your Angus, your Charolais, Limousin, the whole lot.
“There’s as big a difference as between your best Hereford as your worst Hereford, or your best Angus and your worst Angus.”
Listen to Michael and other participants in the Hereford Prime sale, starting with Newport Mart manager James Lee, in our podcast below:
The issue of sire verification is important for all breeds, but is of specific concern for the Hereford and Angus breed as the national dairy herd expands, and dairy farmers keep multiple bulls on farms to serve cows.
This means that when a calf is born the farmer is unlikely to know the true sire of the calf and it will be registered as ‘sire unknown’.
When the calf is killed, the data from its carcase grade and weight won’t link back to the beef breed it’s related to, which leads to a huge gap in knowlegde regarding that beef sire and his breeding potential.
Cleary pointed out that this was a particular issue as the dairy herd continued to expand: “I think it was six years ago there were 97,000 Hereford calf births in the country, and this year there’ll be about 250,000 calf births and that’s growing ... it’s expected the dairy herd will go up 20% over the next few years.’
It’s been estimated that only 45% of beef sired calves from dairy herds have a sire identified, leading to a massive gap in the genetic information for the unrecorded sire and his breed.