AI in suckler herds may boost genetics and prices

Using artificial insemination in suckler herds could help improve genetic gain and significantly tighten the calving period.

Beef producer Hugh Dunlop of Holehouse Farm, Ochiltree Cumnock, said AI had enabled him to access quality genetics and also helped him achieve store sale prices in the top 5% at market.

“Artificial insemination allows access to a £50,000 bull for as little as £20 a straw,” he said.

Mr Dunlop has 130 Limousin crosses and British Blue crosses and sells stores at 10 months to one year old.

He explained how using AI could help tighten the calving period as you became more aware of when cows were failing to come into heat.

“You’re more aware of problems when AI’ing. Often when the bull is left out with the cows, you’re not aware if cows repeat.”

Fixed-time AI can also help to maximise the proportion of cows calving in the most profitable first 21 days of calving, explained Gareth Scott of Cogent Breeding.

“A calf born on day one of calving will have a sale value of £701.40 compared to £577.92 when born at the start of the third cycle,” he said.

Mr Dunlop said 71.5% of his cows conceived to first cycle and 17% to second cycle, with 95% of cows having a calving interval of 365 days

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