< AHDB calls farmers to shout about the sire
AHDB's Amy Fawcett & Alex Brown
Alex Brown

With only 23 per cent of sires currently registered on passports, AHDB Beef & Lamb is urging farmers to start recording to improve profitability and boost competitiveness.

Launched at this year’s British Cattle Breeders Conference in January, AHDB’s ‘Shout about the sire’ campaign  follows the development of the new AHDB National Beef Evaluations, which deliver Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) linked to traits that commercial farmers get paid for, such as carcase quality and speed of finishing.

Funded by AHDB Beef & Lamb and Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, the new EBVS are not only a big step forward for suckler-bred animals, but are also relevant to beef on dairy sires, with some bulls having the potential to produce a calf which will be much more profitable when put into the beef supply chain.

Amy Fawcett, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager said: ”EBVs give farmers a good idea of the genetic potential that a bull will pass on to his calves, and should always be taken into consideration when purchasing stock bulls or choosing AI sires. Although terminal traits such as growth rate and muscle depth are a step in the right direction to producing profitable carcases, they are an indirect and therefore imperfect measure of carcase performance.”

The latest EBVs available to producers have been calculated using data from BCMS, abattoirs and breed societies, with 40 per cent of the national kill and more than two million carcase records for both pure bred and crossbred animals used.

“It was disappointing to find out that are an additional two million abattoir records that cannot be used to generate EBVs, as the sire details of the finished animal were not recorded when farmers registered their calves. For a farmer, this means they are missing out on having access to EBVs for traits that they could potentially make money from,” explained Amy.

The new campaign aims to drive the industry forward and help to generate the data that can help farmers make the best decisions about their herd-breeding strategy.

“We’re going to be working closely with industry bodies including breed societies, semen companies and vets to encourage beef and dairy farmers to get recording and shout about their sires. The more data collected, the more accurate the EBVs will be,” said Amy.

To make it easier for farmers, AHDB Beef & Lamb has produced a Suckler Breeding Plan to help farmers record sires used on groups of animals if access to computer software is not available. This can be found at http://beefandlamb.ahdb.org.uk/returns/

The new carcase trait EBVs for bulls that have them can be found at http://egenes.co.uk/carcassdata/  and you can search by pedigree name or ear tag number.