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Using teams of bulls equally

Teagasc and ICBF recommend that teams of bulls are used when breeding dairy cows as Margaret Kelleher, ICBF outlines here. This is the advice regardless of whether the bulls are genomically or daughter proven. The key message: when planning what bull to use, also plan how to use each bull equally

Invariably bulls are only proven for milk traits and not for female fertility traits which remains a key issue for dairy farmers. If you want to improve fertility and other traits related to fitness on your farm then you need to use teams of bulls. 

Nationally, farmers tend to use a suffiiently large team of bulls.  The common mistake made by many is that individual bulls in the team can be overused. Typically, 34% of calves in dairy herds are sired by one bull and this is too high. The risk is that if the bull should subsequently fall in EBI then the genetic merit of the progeny will also be affected.

The key message is when planning what bull to use the farmer should also plan how to use each bull equally across the herd. For herds of 100 cows or less a minimum of 7 bulls are recommended. More bulls are required for larger herds.

David Hannon, dairy farmer with a 320 dairy cow spring calving herd and 80 replacements, also speaks about picking a team of bulls using the sire advice and will pick 14 or 15 bulls to use on the herd this year. He aims to improve the reliabilty of the calves on the ground in this way.

In this short clip, Margaret Kelleher from ICBF speaks about when planning what bulls to use this breeding season, also plan how to use each bull equally across your herd.  

For more information go to Breeding Week