Dairy farmers bid to slash AI costs
Dairy farmers are examining ways to slash AI costs this spring, with some looking to maximise cashflow early next year by opting for more beef bull semen.
However, farmers have been urged to ensure they do not impact long-term on herd replacements to deliver short-term cashflow gain.
Don Crowley, a Teagasc dairy advisor in Clonakilty, said it appears from discussions amongst dairy farmers that Friesian AI use may be reduced this year.
He pointed out farmers were discussing cutting their AI costs this spring by cutting their AI usage to three to four weeks, rather than six weeks and then mopping up with stock bulls.
"You would want your bull fertility tested in that case as it is a gamble," said Mr Crowley.
He said farmers were discussing moving towards more beef AI to "top up their income", with the mart calf prices for beef crosses proving tempting.
"In terms of longer-term gain, in high EBI herds it is false economy going beef as February and March born Friesian heifer calves off AI sires sell at a significant premium. If deciding to cut back on AI, bull power is required which will mean purchasing extra bulls in a tight year," the Teagasc advisor said.
Farmers have also been considering using more test bulls from the ICBF's Gene Ireland catalogues to access discounted rates. "The straws sell for around €8.50 compared with €18-25 for the usual commercial straws," he said.