Synchronisation can be used to great effect on spring calving suckler herds

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A combination of synchronisation and fixed time artificial insemination can be used to significantly improve the quality of the calves born to suckler cows, according to AI Services’ Ivan Minford.

“Recent work, carried out at AFBI Hillsborough, has confirmed that this approach can be as efficient, from a breeding point of view, as actually seeing cows in heat and then having them inseminated,” he added.

“The synchronisation process can, if required, be fine-tuned with the help of veterinary advice. And, of course the use of fixed time AI opens up the possibility of suckler herdowners making optimal use of a technician service.

“For ease of management, cows can be batched into groups of six or eight, once they are eight weeks post calving. The actual synchronisation process can be fitted in around drenching, worming or other routine management-related activities.”

Ivan added that suckler herdowners must strive to produce top quality calves, otherwise the feasibility of keeping the cows at all must be questioned.

“Most beef cattle from the dairy herd have the scope to produce O and R grade carcases at slaughter. So this puts the onus on suckler herdowners to consistently produce calves that will kill out with U grade carcases and exceptionally high meat yields. Only proven AI sires will allow them achieve this standard of performance.”

Ivan’s comments coincided with the launch of Ai Services Beef Sires’ catalogue 2016/17. And, yet again, the publication references the most comprehensive range of top performing sires available in Northern Ireland.

“The catalogue for 2016/17 features a number of new and exciting sires,” he said.

“A case in point is our new British Blue bull Incredible. He has an excellent ICBF ranking for growth rate and carcass weight. Incredible displays tremendous style and breed character.

“Another new bull for 2016/17 is the Limousin sire Millgate Judge. A son of Norman Ely, and locally bred, he is a superbly balanced bull with style and character. His excellent all round performance data reflect the animal’s more than significant breeding potential.

“We are urging a degree of caution with the widespread use of both Incredible and Judge until such times as detailed calving surveys have been carried out.”

The continuing popularity of Beef Shorthorn bulls here in Northern Ireland reflects the inclusion of the exciting sire Hussar in the 2016/17 catalogue.

“He is owned by Antrim Estates,” explained Ivan.

“But we have him on contract for the foreseeable future. Hussar was sired by the noted Australian bull Broughton Park Thunder. He displays breed character with style and performance.”

One of the great success stories for AI Services over recent years has been the growth in popularity of the Simmental bull Kilbride Delboy.

“He is a superb example of the breed with calves showing style, quality and performance all in one package,” confirmed Ivan.

“Significantly, he is suited for use in both pedigree and commercial herds. His commercial progeny are equally valuable from both a herd replacement or beefing perspective.”

For more information on the 2016/17 beef sires’ catalogue, contact Ai Services on (028) 9083 3123.