Commitment to embryo transfer continues apace in Northern Ireland

​Northern Ireland is home to a selection of the top British Blue pedigree herds found in the UK.

A case in point is the Knockagh herd, owned by Jim and Laura Ervine.

The Knockagh herd was established in 1998 with the purchase of two heifers from the Welton herd of J. Henderson, Carlisle.

The herd was expanded quite rapidly in the years that followed, courtesy of an intensive flushing programme. This has resulted in the breeding of quality progeny, representing a selection of top British Blue bloodlines.

Last autumn, they achieved their greatest individual success to date in winning the supreme championship at the Harrison and Hetherington British Blue Show and Sale in Carlisle.

The successful animal was an elite heifer by Empire: Knockagh Perky. She went on to make 5,200 guineas in the show ring.

Last year also saw the Ervines winning the British Blue Show Herd of the Year. The matriarch driving all of this success is a ten-year-old cow: Knockagh Heidi, a daughter of Springbank Blackstar – going back to Barron/Bringlee Sandy. Her daughter Knockagh Lass is sired by Gitan.

Recent years have seen stock from the Knockagh herd secure many accolades at a selection of the top pedigree livestock events held in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

These include Jim and Laura’s winning of the 2004 Balmoral Show British Blue Championship. They have also produced supreme champions, exhibited at numerous British Blue breed sales, held in Moira and Dungannon.

“We have used flushing and embryo transfer very successfully over the last number of years,” Jim explained.

“Recent embryo transfer work has delivered six from six, seven from eight and eight from nine pregnancies. This represents an 87% conception rate.”

Both Jim and Laura are quick to confirm their use of Omega Flush Oil, from HVS Animal Health, as a key component of their flushing and associated embryo transfer management programmes.

Paul Elwood, from HVS Animal Health, was a recent visitor to the Ervine farm.

He explained: “International research has shown that Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids maximise the quality and numbers of eggs produced by the donor animal while also helping the subsequently produced embryos to implant more effectively in the womb of the recipient.

“We are, therefore, recommending that the proven supplement, which contains both Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, should be offered to the donor animal at a rate of 100 mls per day, mixed in the feed, during the six week period prior to flushing and to the recipient at a similar rate for three weeks pre and six weeks after implantation.

“The donor and recipient females should also receive 200ml of our Liquid Gold Cattle mineral and vitamin drench three weeks prior to flushing.”

Jim Ervine concluded: “We have worked consistently with Paul. Embryo transfer is not cheap. Our objective at all times is to maximise the return on the investment we are making.

“The consistent use of Omega Flush Oil has helped make this a reality.”