Gary Watson, NI Rep UK Genetics Advisory ForumThe broad purpose of the Genetic Advisory Forum (GAF) is to make more money for UK dairy farmers from genetic improvement. The forum is made up of a cross section of industry and farmers with representation from milk recording agencies, Breed Societies and AI Companies among others. The forum reports on current genetic trends and is currently discussing a review of the PLI, mainly due to the increasing input costs and milk price rise since 2007. One of the newer tools currently being offered by DairyCo and the milk recording agencies is the Herd Genetic Summary (see Figure 1). An...

AgriSearch farm events planned for beef producers
The latest research findings on rearing and finishing beef will be presented at 3 farm events being organised by AgriSearch.  The events starting at 2 pm will take place on the farms of Roger and Hilary Bell, Kells (25th October); Brian Radcliffe, Banbridge (26th October) and Joe McCarragher, Armagh (27th October).   A warm invite is extended to beef producers to come and see research in practice through a Research Challenge Fund Programme funded by DARD and AgriSearch. Growth monitoring Monitoring growth for age in rearing and finishing beef systems is key to make the best feeding and...

Optimum Management Strategies For Dairy Heifers
At the recent DARD and AgriSearch Postgraduate Conference in Stormont Estate AgriSearch PhD student Alastair Boyle gave an overview of his study “Developing optimum management strategies for dairy herd replacements”. Alastair noted “It takes 2 years and approximately £1220 to rear a dairy heifer to the point of replacement.  Heifer replacement rate impacts on overall herd profitability and greenhouse gas emissions.” The calving period is highly stressful for dairy heifers: Calving stress Removal of the calf New experience of the milking parlour Metabolic stress Mixing with mature...

Managing ewe lamb replacements from tupping to lambing to maximise output
Introduction The decision whether or not to breed replacement ewes as ewe lambs is one that every sheep producer faces annually, whether grazing the high hills or along the coast.  Delaying breeding until the second year has obvious advantages - it is much easier to ensure ewes are heavy enough for tupping; ewe fertility is generally better and management at lambing easier.  However, delayed breeding brings additional feed costs without generating any additional income to offset these costs.  Breeding replacements as ewe lambs can be equally as successful as breeding from adult ewes but the...

Using PLI to Breed for Profit
In the last 10 years, genetic indices for dairy cattle across the world have been moving toward the breeding of a more sustainable cow with a shift towards lifetime production rather than lactation production.  Consequently in the UK, we have moved from Profit Index (£PIN) which was totally production based to Profitable Lifetime Index (£PLI) which also includes non-productive traits such as fertility, lifespan and somatic cell count. Genetic trends in dairy cows have been for increasing milk production but this has led to declining genetic merit for butterfat and protein%, fertility and...