Search on for suckler beef farmer researchers

suckler cows
suckler cows

AgriSearch is seeking farmers interested in becoming involved as co-researchers in partnership with AFBI on a project co-funded by the DARD Research Challenge Fund.

This project, with generous support from Zoetis, Genus and AI Services, is examining novel breeding methods coupled with high genetic merit sires.

An initial pilot study on synchronisation of beef replacement heifers conducted on five farms across Northern Ireland yielded promising results with an average conception rate of 57%.

The new research programme will look at this area in both greater depth and breadth.

The objectives of this project are to evaluate:

n anoestrus rates in beef heifers and cows

n novel synchronisation and AI techniques and produce a best practice blueprint

n impact of using sorted semen of fertility and subsequent herd output

n the added value of selecting high genetic merit sires

AgriSearch wants to hear from progressive suckler beef farmers interested in participating and becoming involved as part of a research team. Technology transfer is a key component of the project so participating farmers will also present study results groups visiting their farms.

Farmers interested in this practical project should contact Jason Rankin, AgriSearch on (028) 8778 8206 or email: for further information.

An information pack is also available to download from

The deadline for receipt of expressions of interest is Monday 13th April 2015.

AgriSearch, the Northern Ireland Agricultural Research and Development Council was founded by the farming community in 1997.

Most Northern Ireland suckler farmers currently use stock bulls to produce their first calf at an average age of 31 months and achieve average calving intervals of 399 days against industry targets of 24 months and 365 days respectively.

A previous AgriSearch/AFBI project clearly demonstrated to the local beef industry that 24 months calving is achievable, and can be successful, in heifers bred by natural service.

However, synchronisation and artificial insemination (AI) have potential to further improve on this success by breeding heifers earlier (i.e. so they calve down at the start of the calving period).

The likelihood of heifers experiencing a difficult calving is reduced through the use of a sire with proven calving ease. This could be further exploited by the use of female semen as heifer calves have smaller birth weights than bull calves and birth weight is highly correlated with calving ease.