3 November 1995

High-merit Charolais group dominates sire ratings table

Continuing our series on performance recording, Rebecca Austin reports on progress made by the GLBCharolais Improvement Group and the Suffolk sire reference scheme

THREE Charolais breeders, with 250 breeding cows between them, decided to capitalise on the advantages of accelerated genetic improvement and to market animals and semen with high genetic merit.

In 1991 Dr Geoff Simm, a Scottish Agricultural College geneticist, designed a breeding programme to optimise herd structure for across-herd evaluation of genetic merit for them.

As a result, bulls bred within the GLB Charolais Improvement Group hold dominant positions in Charolais sire ratings. "Marketing semen from these bulls, both at home and abroad, would have a major impact on improving returns for commercial beef rearers by increasing the efficiency of producing high yields of saleable meat," explains Richard Fuller, Givendale farm manager for Yorkshire-based JSR Farms. He is also secretary and founder member of the improvement co-operative.

GLB is an acronym of the three co-operating herds: JSRs Givendale, George Youngs Limestone herd, and Robin Hughes Birdsall herd.

In addition to pedigree breeding, GLB is involved with commercial beef herds. Within the group there are 900 suckler cows. All progeny are finished, along with 500 Friesian x Charolais bulls and heifers. The latter are sired by GLB bulls using AI on contract herds in Cheshire.

A trial carried out by the group shows beef producers can earn an extra £38 a head by using Charolais bulls with high beef values on commercial suckler cows.

Calves by Charolais sire, Givendale Hew, who has a beef value of CH41.