Saturday 1 October 2016

Limerick show winners are a class apart

New ground is being broken in dairy stock judging

Martin Ryan

Published 14/09/2016 | 02:30

Michael Laffan holding Everground Sara, winner of the first show class judged on combining of type and EBI Index.
Michael Laffan holding Everground Sara, winner of the first show class judged on combining of type and EBI Index.

The advent an of 'Index Type' Class could help break new ground in the judging of dairy stock in the show ring.

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Munster AI vet and pedigree Limousin breeder, Doreen Corridon of the Roundhill Herd at Fedamore, Co Limerick, tested the new judging formula at the recent Limerick Agricultural Show.

While most classes are judged on type, and there are also classes judged on EBI Index, it is understood that using a combination of the two criteria has never before been tried at a major agricultural show in this country.

"We were trying to bring something different to the judging in the dairy classes at the show and rather than the result being based only on type, we added in EBI with the result based 50pc on each and opened the class to both pedigree and non pedigree" she explained.

The first winner of the new Class, open to pedigree and non pedigree Holstein Friesian milking cows and heifers, was three-year-old Everground Sara, bred and exhibited by Margaret Laffan, Kilfinny, Adare.

Judging the class, Stephen Nagle commended the society on the innovation and remarked that "there was over EBI €200" between the entries.

Everground Sara, making her debut in the judging ring for the first time, took the award against a very competitive entry, which included overall Dairy Champion of the Show, - Baldonnell Samuelo Anna, - when the points for type and EBI were combined.

With an EBI of €202, she has yielded 10,780kgs (2,303 gallons) at 4.06pc Bf and 3.42pc Pr, against an average in the 35 cow herd of EBI €110 with an average yield of 9,690 kg at 3.72pc Bf. and 3.32pc Pr.

The herd has been among the leading Spring calving herds in the Limerick-Clare region in recent years.

It was judged overall winner of the Elite Spring Calving Section of the Limerick and Clare IHFA Breeders Club Annual Herds of the Year Awards and adding the honours for the best Senior Cow and Best Junior Cow in 2015.

Emphasis has been placed on grading up which has been ongoing since the early 1990's to develop the herd to its present level of production.

There are a number of own cow families on the farm eg. Sara Gail, Darina together with other cow families which have been purchased including Star (Glensillagh), Balertwine, Pledge, Ariel (Karona), and Debutant Rae, the combination of which has bred the successful herd on the farm to-day.

Margaret is a strong supporter of the necessity for cow type to be taken into consideration in assessment of animals from the herd, but she believes that adding Index to combine both in judging is well worth pursuing.

Doreen Corridon, who is a member of the Livestock Committee of Limerick Show Society believes that the Index Type Class has a future in judging dairy animals and would like to see it developed more in future years.

"While type is important there is a lot of emphasis now being placed on EBI Index with the work of ICBF in ranking cows and I believe that there is a place for combining the two with an equal weighting in the judging rings," she said.

Beef genomics roll-out goes live this week

The roll-out of beef genomics evaluations by Teagasc and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) which had been deferred last April to enable further updating of the records, is now scheduled to go 'live' this week.

ICBF are advising farmers that the evaluations will provide increased reliability on star ratings for breeders and assist with decision making on the best sires to use for maximum benefit in genetics.

The delay was caused by the request from the wider beef breeding industry, including AI companies, herdbooks and suckler farmers, to have genomics for female fertility included in the evaluation.

According to ICBF "the industry felt that it would be better for farmers and the industry if we introduced all changes at once so as to minimise the extent of changes that farmers see in the short term."

This is the prefered approach to the alternative of going earlier with genomics for all traits except female fertility, and adding the genomics for female fertility later.

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