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An Update on the Dairy Beef Index

As part of the Teagasc & ICBF breeding week, Teagasc researchers Nicky Byrne & Alan Twomey join Catherine Egan on this week’s Beef Edge podcast to give an update on the Dairy Beef Index (DBI) and an insight into its impact in the future.

The Dairy Beef Index is a breeding goal for Irish dairy and beef farmers to promote high quality beef cattle bred from the dairy herd that are more saleable as calves and profitable at slaughter yet, they have minimal consequences on the calving difficulty or gestation length of the dairy cow.

Alan explains that it is delivering easy calving for the dairy farmer and high carcass merit for the beef farmer and going forwards in the future it will have a greater impact as it is still early days for being implemented on farm.

Nicky advises that the DBI is a great development as it will allow for the identification of bulls with the balance of traits needed to bring better integration of the needs of both dairy and beef farmers, and it will allow for individuals to be identified across a range of breeds, which will become important in flattening the supply curve of dairy beef animals born from a seasonal system.

He says that  ‘a higher proportion of beef calves will bring greater system efficiency in terms of feed, carcass and probably younger ages at slaughter compared to pure dairy males’.

It is especially important for the various bonus and QA pricing system which are in place, which generally require animals to be of a conformation score of greater than O-. Conformation is the number one to increase the value of every kg of beef, similar to our protein and fat in a milk pricing scenario.

Both Alan and Nicky believe that beef farmers need to insist that all beef calves are by high genetic merit beef sires to secure their investment and level of risk, so rather than premium prices, it should be a basic requirement.

Finally, Nicky concludes with an update of the research in Teagasc Grange on the DBI.

For more episodes and information covered on the Beef Edge, visit the show page at: www.teagasc.ie/thebeefedge