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AI royalties option for top EBI herds

Genomic testing could allow farmers with high EBI bulls to sell their semen to AI companies in return for royalties in the future, Teagasc genomics expert Donagh Berry has suggested.

Instead of selling their bulls to AI companies, farmers could keep their bull at home, sell semen to the AI station and generate an income by charging a royalty per straw, Mr Berry told farmers at the Emerald Expo technical seminar on Friday.

"I could see some of the high EBI discussion groups coming together to genomically select all their bull calves, then picking the best five bulls to collect semen from," he said.

Bull purchasing is one of the biggest costs to AI companies and keeping bulls at home could also reduce the risk of disease spread.

Mr Berry declined to comment on what price farmers with potential AI sires should be asking from AI companies.

However, Ger Ryan from Dovea AI confirmed that his company was offering a minimum of €4,000 for calves entering its AI programme.

Mr Berry warned that the fast-tracking of bull selection through genomic selection needed to be handled with care.

"We don't know what other traits will come with the genomically selected bulls," he pointed out. "We need to record all incidences of disease or other changes that occur."

"Remember what aggressively selecting for milk production in the Holstein did in terms of fertility," he said.

The Teagasc expert added that farmers should only genomically test their bulls if they were going to use the results to select animals and also warned them to note the reliability figures for genomically selected bulls.

Caitriona Murphy

Indo Farming