Farmers returning to traditional breeds but avoid the pure-breds
A marked swing to using more traditional breeds as suckler cow replacements had been seen over the past 12 months, Andrew Cromie of the ICBF told the Suckler Conference.
The past year has seen evidence of a turnaround in the use of traditional breeds, with more suckler farmers using Angus and Hereford crosses with Continentals.
Between 2007 and 2011, the use of Angus and Hereford cross replacements decreased by 4pc, to 6pc per year. However, the use of Angus suckler cow replacements increased by 16pc over the past year, with Herefords 30pc stronger.
After decreasing by 4pc in the period from 2007 to 2011, usage of Angus/ Hereford cross Limousin in the suckler herd increased by 30pc in 2011-2012, while Angus/Hereford crosses with Charolais increased by 22pc.
However, the Limousin-Charolais was still the most popular breed combination for suckler herd replacements, reflecting the dominance of these two breeds in the national beef herd. This combination was followed by Limousin crosses with Holstein Friesian.
Despite the growing level of discussion and interest in sourcing first cross replacements from the dairy herd, there appeared to be no real shift in this direction.
This suggested that Irish suckler beef farmers were generally happier breeding their own replacements or purchasing replacements from the suckler herd than sourcing from the dairy herd, the conference was told.
Mr Cromie said there had been a definite shift away from three-quarter bred or purer animals as replacements on suckler farms, with indications from herd owners that they did not believe in the assertions of greater profitability from pure breeding.