5 May 1995

Dams of Distinction in HFSshowcase debut

A NEW element to the Holstein Friesian Society (HFS) Progeny Showcase, held last week at Bingley Hall, Staffs, re-opened the debate on UK progeny testing.

The event, attended by about 2000 farmers, down by 1000 on the last event in 1992, featured for the first time "Dams of Distinction" – a display of top potential UK-owned bull mothers.

Outgoing HFS president, Tom Carr, voiced his concerns about the high number of young bulls being used by breeders, thereby diluting UK progeny testing schemes. "The danger is that many of these sires will not be used sufficiently to give them a widespread proof."

HFS research analyst Mike Coffey believes there are about 4000 young Holstein bulls on UK farms. "About 500,000 dams are inseminated each year to provide herd replacements but most of these are put to top proven bulls," he said. "Some of these young bulls do not stand a hope of achieving a proof."

He renewed industry calls for a more disciplined approach to UK progeny testing. "Between £30m and £50m leaves the UK each year to pay for imported semen, embryos and livestock. Instead, this money should be staying here to fuel our rural economy," he said.

Dorset breeder Tim Harding of the Crichel Herd said: "What we need is a scheme whereby its compulsory to use test bulls on 95% of second calvers. Incentives should be offered to those who join up and penalties for those who dont."

&#8226 Incoming HFS president the Duke of Westminster stressed in his acceptance speech at the societys AGM last week the vital role of progeny testing in the UK to the future profitability of the industry.

Rumours are that a Grosvenor Estates initiative could see the launch of a major scheme designed to kick-start the countrys meagre bull testing programme. The aim is to test more young bulls bred and owned in the UK.

Watch this space.