Beautiful cows and modern farming technology were the winners at Saturday’s National Dairy Show at Millstreet.
Farmers welcomed the news that the Irish dairy herd is on course to become one of the most fertile in the world.
Declining cow fertility has plagued the global dairy industry for decades, but work led by the Bandon, Co Cork-based Irish Cattle Breeding Federation has turned the trend around.
At Millstreet, top Teagasc geneticist Donagh Berry said 95% pregnancy rates are now being achieved in an elite Next Generation herd at Moorepark, Fermoy, and this superior genetic merit is trickling down to the average Irish cow, which is achieving only 78% pregnancy rates at the Moorepark research centre.
The latest technology, including genomics, has been used to achieve fast genetic progress in the fertility of the national dairy herd, and Mr Berry revealed the next target for Irish geneticists is to breed healthier cattle.
Progress in this area will help farmers avoid breed lines which carry disease, and could eventually enable them to DNA test cows in order to predict what diseases they are prone to.
Thousands of dairy farmers enjoyed the event in north Co Cork, seeing 240 of the country’s best looking dairy cows in the show ring, competing for the Irish Examiner Supreme Championship, judged by Welsh cow expert Iwan Rhys Morgan.
He picked Glaslough Miss Petra EX91 as his champ. David and Kenny Boyd had brought the five-year-old cow and six other herdmates on an eight-hour road trip from their Glaslough Holsteins based in north Monaghan, to win the coveted trophy in Co Cork.
There was an all-Cork win in the Innovation Awards. The gold went to Herdinsights, a system which detects when cows are ready for breeding with 93% accuracy, and also alerts the herd owner when cows are sick. It is a product of Alanya, founded by Donald Cronin, and incubated at the Rubicon business innovation hub in the CIT.
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