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ICBF's Wickham set to finish term as CEO next year

Dr Brian Wickham is to finish his term as chief executive of the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) late next year, the Farming Independent has learned.

It is understood that a crucial meeting of the ICBF board in March agreed to give the chief executive an extension in his contract up to October 2012.

It had been suggested that a two-year extension in his term at the head of the breeding authority would be granted to Dr Wickham as such a move had been recommended by the ICBF's finance committee.

However, this was opposed by some of the board members, including the beef breed societies and also the Irish Holstein Friesian Association (IHFA). As a result, a compromise proposal of a 12-month extension was agreed.

Dr Wickham has headed up the ICBF since its foundation in the late 1990s.


A respected geneticist, the New Zealander was instrumental in streamlining the fragmented Irish cattle breeding sector.

The development of EBI indices and the adoption of genomic selection in the dairy herd will stand as the great successes of his term as the head of Irish cattle breeding.

However, this success was not matched in beef breeding. Indeed, among his fiercest detractors were the beef breeds which felt the ICBF was too dairy focused.

However, he also clashed with the country's biggest dairy society, the IHFA, over the introduction of the EBI, which did not reflect the emphasis the association placed on conformation and milk yield. Priority was given instead to traits such as fertility and longevity.

An international congress of animal geneticists will be hosted by the ICBF in Cork next May. The occasion is sure to provide an ideal opportunity for those interested in filling the post being vacated by Dr Wickham to get a feel for what would be involved.

Meanwhile, the two IFA representatives on the board have changed since just before last March's board meeting, with Kevin Kiersey and Michael Doran taking over from Derek Deane and Michael Murphy.

Indo Farming