First Irish calves to arrive in Eritrea
Calves from Irish bulls are expected on the ground in Eritrea later this year after more than 2,000 AI straws from Dovea Genetics animals were sent to the African country.
Dairy and beef semen supplier, Dovea, joined up with Teagasc and Irish NGO Vita to support cattle improvement in the country by supplying the straws to the National AI Centre in Eritrea.
They are being used as part of a dairy crossbreeding programme with plans to send out more AI straws later in 2016.
James O'Loughlin from Teagasc Moorepark said the breed local to Eritrea, Barka, was crossed with Friesian or Jersey bulls. Support is also being offered in research and knowledge as part of the project.
"The bulls have been selected for a forage based system of production," said Conor Ryan of Dovea Genetics, pointing out the costs of concentrates was high and supply unreliable in Eritrea.
He said the bulls selected will result in delivering healthy and more profitable livestock.
Vita's CEO John Weakliam said the dairy project was about passing on skill and improving the quality of the livestock rather than "traditional aid".