14 September 2001

Confirmation must not be undermined

THE days when big showring winners in the UK were automatically destined to become top sires are over, according to BCCS chief executive David Benson.

"BLUP has allowed us to value our bulls as terminal sires, but we must go a stage further," he told journalists on the French tour.

"We must exploit the maternal qualities of the Charolais and we believe the French breeding programme can be of huge benefit to British beef producers."

BCCS wants to devise a scheme to provide UK commercial beef producers with semen from bulls selected for easy calving and with superior maternal traits, without undermining conformation.

The society recognises that large-scale uptake of these genetics will depend on pedigree herds using maternal trait bulls on a proportion of females to provide bulls for use in suckler herds.

But it hopes suckler herd owners will make a positive response more rapidly by using AI via the BCCS semen scheme.

"In France, the breed has proved it can provide the complete package for the commercial beef producer," said Mr Benson.

For producers restocking after foot-and-mouth, commercial Char-olais cows available in the UK can provide an ideal foundation for a closed herd based on the use of semen from maternal trait sires.

"Alternatively, we see an opportunity for suckled calf producers – with other cow breeds – to introduce these proven French genetics into their policy for breeding herd replacements," Mr Benson added.

"Widespread use of these genetics will be a giant step forward for the UK suckler herd which must start to generate its own replacement females."