Over 10,000 bulls per year for BDGP

In the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), at least one stock bull on the holding on June 30, 2019 must have been genotyped four or five star on either the terminal or replacement index.

Or a similar four or five star bull must be retained on the holding until 30 June 2020.

“In other words, the farmer can lease the bull”, said Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney last week.

He also confirmed that bulls are not required to have a four or five star rating until 2019.

“The better the genetics, the increased likelihood of producing better animals from that herd. This is the purpose of the scheme,” said Mr Coveney.

The Department of Agriculture has compiled the following Q&A guide.

In order to qualify for the scheme, does the bull have to be purchased within the time frame of the scheme.

No, a bull is eligible provided that he has been genotyped and given a four or five star rating on either the Terminal or Replacement index.

What about a pedigree breeder using his own replacement bull from his own herd?

Pedigree bulls retained on the holding for breeding will be eligible, provided that they meet the stock bull requirement (genotyped four or five star on either replacement or terminal index, on either a within or across breed basis)

For AI-bred progeny, how do we define 80% AI?

This calculation will be based on progeny rather than recorded inseminations. DAFM will count the number of progeny born from AI sires during the course of the scheme and the percentage of these that are from four or five star AI sires. This latter figure is expected to be greater than 80%.

What about farmers using both AI bulls and stock bulls?

In such circumstances, farmers must be compliant with both requirements.

The scheme will restrict use of “outcross” sires by pedigree breeders?

The 80% compliance requirement gives scope for pedigree breeders looking to use outcross sires as part of the scheme. ICBF analysis shows that 69% of the new beef AI sires coded last year are already compliant with the scheme.

How will we define a stock bull from June 30, 2019?

A stock bull will be defined as being one of the bulls in service on the herd on or after June 30, 2019. This stock bull must be at least 12 months of age on the date of compliance (June 30, 2019).

How can I estimate the Euro-Star index of a potential mating? For example, I have a 2.5 star cow, if I serve her with a five star bull, what will the resulting mating be on replacement index?

The average replacement index for cows is currently €114 (2.5 stars). If I cross this cow with a bull that is €161 on replacement index (five stars), then the replacement index of the resultant progeny will be (114+161) divided by 2, = €137.5.

The cut-off for eligibility for the scheme is greater than or equal to €126 on replacement index (the top 40%). Therefore, assuming that indexes do not change considerably between the time of insemination and time of genotyping the resultant progeny (about 12 months), then this animal should be eligible.

If I buy a five-star bull and he drops to two stars, how will this affect the compliance status of my stock bull and also any resultant replacement females.

Once a bull is purchased as genotyped four or five stars on either the replacement or terminal index (within or across breed), then he retains that status for the purposes of payment for the duration of the scheme.

However, all resultant females will be assessed based on their own genetic merit, which will be a combination of the bull’s most up to date genetic evaluations and also information from the dam, and from the female herself (based on her own submitted DNA and also animal performance).

Therefore it is not correct to say that once a farmer has an eligible bull, he will have eligible female progeny.

Rather farmers need to take a number of factors into consideration when generating female replacements, for example, the genetic merit of the dams, the latest genetic merit for the stock bull and the potential use of AI (as these bulls should have a higher index and with higher reliability).

Are all calves from an AI sire five star.

No, every animal has its own unique star rating at birth based on its own DNA, that of its ancestry.

Are all calves from a pedigree bull at least four star.

No, every animal has its own unique star rating at birth based on its own DNA, that of its ancestry.

Are there enough four or five star bulls in the country for the scheme to operate?

Yes, 14,000 pedigree bulls are generated per year, of which over 10,000 (75%) are fully compliant with the terms of the scheme (that is, four or five stars on either replacement or terminal index and either within or across breed basis). Analysis from the 2014 scheme has indicated that scheme herds will require some 7,000 to 8,000 new pedigree bulls/year, indicating that there are sufficient bulls for the scheme to operate.

I have no idea what star ratings my cows have, and I am worried if my cows have all low stars.

On entry to the scheme you will be given data relating to Euro-Star values of cows in your herd, how many animals you will be required to test each year, and how many replacements you will need to bring in to meet the requirement in 2018.

It is important to note that heifers aged over 16 months are taken into consideration also, so not all of the replacements will have to be calved by the deadline. If we were to fast forward and look at the herds tested as part of the 2014 pilot scheme, up to 50% of participating herds could currently meet the 20% (2018) replacement requirement.


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