Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Teagasc scientist says fertility in its research herds still on track

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Teagasc has insisted that fertility levels in its research herds is on track despite poor results from initial scans.

The research agency's head of animal and grassland research, Pat Dillon, admitted that project co-ordinators were particularly worried about the fertility of their research herd in Grange after the first scan.

A beef maternity index trial started in Grange this year, with approximately 130 yearling heifers split into four different groups to assess the performance of Limousin and Angus animals bred from both the dairy and suckler herd. The aim of the trial is to assess the performance of these heifers against their predicted maternal indexes in a system heavily reliant on maximising the grazing season.

However, a tough spring is believed to have taken its toll on the heifers, with high levels of repeats showing up in animals that were bred during the first two to three weeks of the breeding season.

However, Mr Dillon was adamant that the herd's fertility programme was back on track following more positive results from the most recent scanning two weeks ago.

He declined to be drawn on the results of any of the scans that have taken place so far, preferring to simply state that "the fertility was not good". He rejected the suggestion that more than 75pc of the first-bred heifers had scanned not in-calf.

Mr Dillon was happy to disclose that 50pc of the New Generation research herd at Moorepark bred during the first 20 days had scanned in-calf. However, he refused to comment on the difference in results between the elite and average groups, citing inadequate volumes of data and breed sensitivities.

The New Generation herd is comprised of more than 100 of the highest genetic merit heifers in the country, with an average EBI of over €200.

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Commenting on the difficulties at Grange, Mr Dillon said that the heifers were just out to grass when the breeding season began.

"It will be a 12-13-week breeding season that will end in mid July. We expect 90pc of the animals to be in-calf by then. The first six weeks we used AI and there are now four bulls in with the groups," he said.

"The indications are that very few are repeating now so we are confident that we will meet the targets. I don't want to give out data now because it is very dangerous to talk about results so early in the year," he concluded.

Irish Independent

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