Programme to catch up with rest of Europe
COGENT hopes its programme will grow from testing 50 bulls in the first year to over 200 a year.
This should give the UK a test capacity comparable in size with those in the rest of Europe. Currently the UK, with a cow population of 2.5m, tests only 100 UK-owned bulls, says Mr Heywood. In contrast Holland, with a cow population of 1m, is testing 300 bulls.
Cogent has already sourced 25 young bulls for its programme.
It claims it can offer the largest test bed in the world for potential bull mothers using the 1200 cow spaces at Grosvenor Farms.
Existing stock will be replaced with new high-indexing genetics sourced worldwide. Females purchased and produced from embryos will enter the nucleus herd in Cheshire. These potential bull mothers will be assessed under common nutrition and management to identify the best for UK conditions. "The reliability this will give to dam figures is crucial," says Mr Sloan.
Cogent claims founder members will be able to buy embryos from the nucleus herd at cost, and trial their own top breeding lines through the herd.
Young bulls entering the Cogent stud have been selected to have a target proof when proven of £140 PIN95, with 35kgs of protein and 1300kg of milk.
Emphasis is also placed on functional type traits such as udders, and legs and feet.
"Bulls selected initially undergo a tough pre-selection based on the most up-to-date information prior to testing, with only 50% going on test," says Mr Sloan.
• Details: Cogent, FREEPOST, Aldford, Chester, CH3 6ZZ (01244-620214).