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ABP and Aurivo announce new sire-improvement pilot scheme

Cattle at ABP Clonegal Farm in Carlow

ABP has announced a partnership with Aurivo, the milk processing co-op, on a new sire-improvement pilot scheme offered to Aurivo milk suppliers. This announcement comes as part of ABP’s Advantage Beef Programme initiative, which aims to highlight the importance of good sire genetics when buying calves from the dairy herd that are destined for beef production.

The new pilot scheme, which has been filled for this year, sees high-genetic-merit beef artificial insemination (AI) straws offered to Aurivo milk suppliers.

The project will be led by Oisin Lynch, ABP’s Advantage Beef Programme Liaison Officer, who explained: “The purpose of this new venture with Aurivo is to work with dairy farmers to encourage the use of higher-genetic-merit AI sires, resulting in better quality calves with the potential for higher beef carcass performance.

We believe more integration is needed with the dairy and beef industries and we look forward to working with Aurivo milk suppliers in the future. Using higher-genetic-merit bulls can be a win-win for both the dairy farmer and the beef farmer, by providing the beef farmer with better calves and the dairy farmer with a more secure market for their calves.”

These calves will be purchased by local beef farmers and reared for beef through the Advantage Beef Programme.

Sire selection

In total, seven eligible sires were selected for the pilot scheme. This was based on a number of different criteria and the breeds were selected according to the farmer’s preference. The pilot programme also includes two test sires, both young bulls with excellent calving and carcass traits and proven bloodlines.

The selection criteria for the sires in the pilot programme included:

  • Sires had to meet the Advantage Beef Programme’s minimum genetic threshold of a beef sub-index of €35;
  • The sires had to be easy calving and short gestation (to suit the dairy farmer) but have good carcass traits (to suit the beef farmer);
  • Sires had to be from proven bloodlines.

Research on ABP’s Demonstration Farm has shown a direct link to progeny performance from using higher-genetic-merit sires in terms of carcass performance and value to beef farmers.

Results on AI Angus sires from the ABP Demonstration Farm have shown up to a €200/head difference in price between finished progeny from high-genetic-merit sires compared to lower beef-genetic-merit sires.

ABP and Aurivo have plans to further develop the project in the future to encourage more dairy farmers to get involved.

Commenting on the new venture, Vincent Griffith, Farm Profitability Specialist with Aurivo said: “We are excited about this pilot programme with ABP. Selecting high-genetic-merit beef bulls that are easy calving, short gestation but have high carcass traits will be beneficial for both our milk suppliers and local beef farmers who will buy these calves.”

Aurivo milk supplier Sean Collery from Ballinacarrow, Co.Sligo, who is milking herd of 70 high Economic Breeding Index (EBI) cows, has joined the programme and commented: “This pilot-scheme with Aurivo and ABP Food Group is a great initiative to link dairy farmers with calf-to-beef farmers and also offers dairy farmers a guaranteed outlet for producing better-quality dairy beef calves.”

Aurivo milk suppliers interested in joining the pilot scheme in the future can contact an Aurivo representative.