Students take up the Hereford challenge

Greenmount students were given a detailed presentation of the role of breed societies and the use of the Breedplan recording system by Robin Irvine of the Hereford Cattle Society.
Greenmount students were given a detailed presentation of the role of breed societies and the use of the Breedplan recording system by Robin Irvine of the Hereford Cattle Society.

The use of technology and performance recording in pedigree beef production was the theme of a seminar run for Greenmount agricultural students and hosted by the Glenside Hereford herd owned by Raymond and Stuart Pogue near Benburb.

The event featured weighing and scanning of yearling bulls and heifers demonstrated by William Tait of AI Services Ltd.

William Tait, Beef Recording technician with AI Services demonstrates the use of ultra sound scanning to evaluate the carcass quality of Hereford bulls.

William Tait, Beef Recording technician with AI Services demonstrates the use of ultra sound scanning to evaluate the carcass quality of Hereford bulls.

William explained the use of weight recording to assess growth potential and how ultra sound scanning of fat depth and muscle area can be used to predict carcass yield. The data collected from on-farm measurement is processed through the internationally acclaimed Breedplan program.

Developed in Australia this is now the accepted method of estimating breeding value in all the leading beef producing countries of the world. Contemporary comparisons are used to predict performance in the key areas of calving ease, milk yield, fertility, growth rate and carcass quality with linkages made to all recorded relatives of the animal to improve the accuracy of the prediction.

The students also heard about the role and operation of breed societies in maintaining the pedigree register, in directing breed improvement and building branded beef schemes.

Robin Irvine, a past president and chairman of the Hereford Cattle Society spoke of the growth of the Certified Hereford beef brand - with close to 50,000 cattle per year marketed through major UK retailers.

“The value of the premiums earned by Hereford sired beef is in the region of £5 million per annum at the farm gate and represents a very significant bonus for UK beef producers,” said Robin.

ELITE BULL SALE

Breeders are looking forward to welcoming the students to the Elite Hereford sale on 27th February when the bulls which they saw weighed and scanned will come under the hammer. They will have a chance to view at close quarters the process of assessing and selecting a sire for either a beef or dairy herd. They will be given the opportunity make their choices based on visual appraisal during the pre-sale parade and on the published performance data in the sale catalogue.

Guidance will be given by experienced breeders who will explain the use of Breedplan information and how it can be used to select a sire to meet the herd requirements. Calving ease has to be balanced against growth rate and carcass quality with consideration given to the production system and the end product in terms of carcass weight and grade.

The students will be invited to rank the bulls prior to the sale and a prize will be awarded to the student whose ranking most closely matches the prices achieved in the sale.