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Munster herds keep up dairy dominance with top seven bulls in ICBF list

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Good genes: The dam of Scartflesk Ronald bred by John Ahern, Watergrasshill, Co Cork

Good genes: The dam of Scartflesk Ronald bred by John Ahern, Watergrasshill, Co Cork

Good genes: The dam of Scartflesk Ronald bred by John Ahern, Watergrasshill, Co Cork

Munster's status as the dairy breeding paradise of the country has been underlined with a clean sweep of the herds breeding the top EBI bulls in the latest ICBF list.

Of the top seven bulls, four are Cork-bred, with one each from Tipperary, Waterford and Kerry.

This is the 20th year that ICBF has published the spring active bull list, and a record percentage of the top bulls were bred in Ireland.

"Nearly 90pc of the bulls on the list were bred here," says Pat Donnellan of the ICBF. Leading Leading the field with EBI €371 is Kilfeacle Pivotal, bred by Michael Marnane, Kilfeacle, Co Tipperary.

In second place at EBI €360 is Springhaven Supreme from the North Cork herd of Robert Troy at Newtownshandrum.

Third-placed Roovesmore Calgary, with EBI €352 from the herd of Denis Finnerty in Co Cork is the only Jersey bull in the top 38. Sheanmore Master, with EBI €337, bred by Patsy Ahern, of Ballyduff, Co Waterford is fourth, while fifth-placed Scartflesk Ronald, EBI €334, comes from the herd of John Ahern, Watergrasshill, Co Cork.

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ICBF analysis of AI sire usage in Irish dairy herds is showing an over-reliance on certain sires.

"Over-using a small number of sires will leave your herd overly exposed to potential EBI changes in individual bulls," the ICBF advises breeders.

"Any bull team should consist of at least seven bulls. For herds greater than 150 cows, this number needs to increase.

"In addition, it is important that you use your team of bulls, equally across your herd this breeding season.

"You should also aim to breed replacements from the highest-EBI females in your herd. These are invariably your maiden heifers, first and second calvers. "Only use bulls that are classified as 'low risk of dairy heifer calving difficulty' when choosing bulls for heifers.

"Also, lower-EBI cows should be bred to beef AI from the start of the breeding season."

The ICBF also recommends that in terms of dairy AI bulls, herd owners should refer to the herd score card it issues which highlights the herd status regarding beef merit. If the herd is low for these traits, breeders should consider using dairy bulls that will improve these traits in the herd.

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