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Bull report offers boost to pedigree breeders

A new bull report, currently being designed by the ICBF, is set to revolutionise the amount of information available on pedigreebeef stock bulls.

The Bull Tracker report, which is set to be launched next month, is aimed at maximising the number and type of records available for each bull, in the same way as the suckler cow report provides maximum information for a cow.

Beef HerdPlus farmers will receive a Bull Tracker report listing the farm's current stock bulls, past stock bulls and any bulls sold for breeding.

Each bull listed will have his own page, detailing his identity, sire and dam details, €uro Star rating and any performance data available for him. This would include weight recordings and calving surveys, among other records.

The bull's calf crop for each year will be recorded, including the number of heifer and bull calves he sired each year, together with their calving records, including difficulty and mortality. €uro Star ratings and performance data for each calf will be recorded if available.

This will include average daily gain if the calves have been weighed and carcass data for any that have been slaughtered. In the case of heifer calves, their average age at calving will also be recorded.

This comprehensive Bull Tracker report is targeted at pedigree breeders in the main, according to ICBF chief executive Brian Wickham.

"Pedigree breeders breed bulls and sell them on, but they may never know how the bull performs over the years," he said.

"This new report will help them to stay informed."

Pat Donnellan, from the ICBF, is currently working on the report's design and he maintained that it could be used as a marketing tool for breeders.

"If you sold a very good bull two years ago and you have his full brother for sale this year, you can use the report to tell buyers what they are buying into," he said.

"The report will also link any comments made about the bull in sales catalogues."

This will allow breeders to include comments about class winners and show champions.

Mr Donnellan added that pedigree bull breeders would be able to use the Bull Tracker report to determine whether their bull is a good terminal sire, based on the progeny carcass information. Alternatively, the heifer calf information might point to a bull who is producing good maternal stock.

The report will also include a facility where breeders can trace the breed fraction of the dams of the bull's progeny. This will create a more accurate picture for both the breeder and potential buyers.

For example, a beef bull whose progeny figures may look, at first glance, disappointing. However, if the dam's breeding turns out to be, for example, Jersey, then the figures will be more understandable.

Membership of Beef HerdPlus costs €20 for the first year and €50 annually in subsequent years.

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