As breeding season continues on Tullamore Farm, this week we look at what traits in bulls are important when choosing replacement heifers for the following year.
On the farm, the cows are currently eight weeks into the breeding season with all cows being AI.
The heifers were initially being served to AI for the first four weeks, but are now running with the Salers stock bull.
Tullamore Farm manager Shaun Diver says: “For the first six weeks, the first-cross cows were AI-ed to bulls with high maternal traits and breeds such as Simmental and Limousin bulls were to be used for replacements next year with the hopes of providing us with as many high replacement heifers that we can go on and sell the following year as possible.
"What is good about these bulls is that even where we get a bull calf, most of the sires are four and five stars on the terminal index, so you have a very good beef animal that will go on and perform well.
"You can see just now we are killing the under-16-month young bulls and currently we are averaging a carcase weight of 388kg at 14.5 months of age.
"Cows bred later in the breeding season, typically the later-calving cows or some cows that will repeat after first service, will be then AI-ed to bulls with higher beef traits, such as the Charolais bull Hideal this year.”
When selecting a bull for the first-cross dairy-type cows on the farm, we focus on introducing a bit more shape in calves
When selecting bulls, Shaun takes into account many traits including maternal, plus figures, carcase weights and the type of cow.
Shaun said: “On the farm, we have a mixture between first-cross dairy cows and suckler cows.
"When selecting a bull for the first-cross dairy-type cows on the farm, we focus on introducing a bit more shape in calves in comparison to the three-quarter-bred suckler cows that are better conformed.
"These suckler cows may need a bull with higher maternal traits to enhance milk yield and overall replacement performance.
"It is about knowing your cow and picking a bull as best you can to match up with her. What she is lacking, you need to look for a bull that can improve that trait – it has to be the biggest advantage of using AI.”
This year, Tullamore Farm will host its national open day on 26 July. The open day will have an overview of the entire farm system and performance of both the beef and sheep enterprises and demonstrate how the farm system has evolved since its inception in 2017.
Financial performance to breeding and genetics, grassland management, soil health and fertility are a number of areas discussed on the day.
The day will run from 10.30am to 5pm. For enquires, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The farm’s eircode is R35 AT81.