Ai Services (Northern Ire-land) Ltd is confirming a continuing growth in semen sales.
“We have just enjoyed another record business year,” confirmed the company’s breeding services manager Ivan Minford.
“Where dairy is concerned, the key drivers at farm level are cow longevity and daughter fertility.”
He continued: “Both these traits can be bred for. Ai Services has uniquely strong relationships with the world’s best dairy breeding companies. This allows us to select the bulls that will perform best on farms here in Northern Ireland.”
According to Ivan, a commitment to breed for improved health attributes has been a feature of the development programmes put in place by many local milk producers over the past number of years.
“And it’s a commitment that has paid-off,” Ivan continued.
“Many dairy farmers are reporting significantly reduced culling rates on the grounds of poor cow fertility while the average lifespan of cows on dairy farmers across Northern Ireland has increased accordingly.
“It makes perfect sense for milk producers to put a significant focus on health traits when it comes to selecting the AI bulls they use on their cows.
“Improving cow longevity and daughter fertility means it requires a lower number of replacement heifers to meet the overall development needs of every herd.
“The growing use of sexed semen is also helping milk producers to meet this target using a lower number of dairy straws.
“In turn, this is allowing farmers to use greater levels of beef semen in their lower ranking cows.”
Ivan also confirmed that the fast-increasing number of robotic milking systems in Northern Ireland is also shaping farmers’ breeding decisions.
“Issues such a teat placement are now important drivers for bull selections on farms where robotic milking is in use,” he commented.
“But, again, use of AI-proven bulls has allowed farmers to breed confidently for these traits.”
Ivan made these comments at the launch of Ai Services’ Dairy Catalogue 2020. The new listing features 27 of the world’s top Holstein bulls.
He added: “The average PLI value across the 27 sires is £707. The improvement in daughter fertility across all the bulls featured works out at +8.1. In addition, their average lifespan figure is +0.5.”
According to Ivan, 20 of the bulls featured in the new catalogue are positive for both fat and protein percentage while 20 will deliver an additional 60 kilos of combined fat and protein per daughter lactation.
He continued: “Sixteen of the bulls in the 2020 catalogue are available sexed. In addition to the Holstein line-up, 17 sires represent the coloured breeds. These include Viking Red, Montbeliarde Fleckvieh, Brown Swiss and Ayrshire, etc.”
The new listing includes a number of particularly promising young Holstein sires. These include Leap.
Ivan Minford again: “Leap has a PLI of £839. He delivers an outstanding combination of type, production and health traits.
“The bull is particularly recom-mended for increasing longevity with a score of +0.8. In real terms this means an extra 240 days’ lifetime per animal in the herd. Leap is ideally suited for robotic milking systems.”
Monson is another young bull of note. According to Ivan, he combines an ability to deliver strength and power within any herd.
“The bull also delivers a great combination of production and type in one package,” he said.
Monson increases components by +0.16%, where protein is concerned, and 0.13% in relation to fat. His daughters should be particularly suited for large commercial herds.”
Nacash is another young sire with tremendous breeding potential. He has superb, all-round breeding characteristics. According to Ivan,
he ranks highly in PLI and in breeding programmes around the world, including the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and France.
“The bull is from 10 generations of VG and EX cows,” Ivan confirmed.
“Nacash has tremendous feet and leg scores, which he combines with excellent locomotion figures.”