Research Centre works on grass index and encouraging new bloodlines

Grass varieties index planned

A new financial based index for selecting grass varieties will allow Irish farmers to identify the best variety across a selection of traits.

Speaking to Farmers Weekly, Mary Mcevoy, research officer at Research Centre County Cork explained the Grass Selection Index followed a similar principle to using the Economic Breeding Index (EBI) to select bulls.

Placing a financial value on different traits will be of more worth to farmers,” she said.

An economic value will be given to dry matter production in spring, mid season and autumn, first cut yields, quality and persistency. “These individual indices will then be combined to give a single, overall Grass Selection Index in Euros.”

And each trait will be assigned different weightings within the final index, with the highest emphasis placed on spring and autumn yields.

“Farmers are placing more and more emphasis on grazed grass to reduce costs and improve profitability

“Our aim is to capture the traits that are important to Irish farmers and good early and end of season grass growth is key to extending the grazing season and getting more form grass.”

It is hoped the Grass Selection Index will be published by Moorepark by the end of the year, with the long-term aim for the index to be included on the Grass and Clover Recommended List for Ireland in the next two years.


Steps being taken to promote non-Oman blood lines

Irish farmers are being encouraged to breed high Economic Breeding Index (EBI) cows, completely distinct from O-Bee Manfred Justice (Oman).

This comes in response to concerns over inbreeding, as Oman’s sons continue to dominate bull proofs.

Although inbreeding is not a major problem at present because Oman is a complete outcross, we are keeping an eye to the future, explained Sinead McParland, geneticist at Moorepark Research Centre, County Cork.

Speaking to Farmers Weekly, Dr Parland said Oman was not being excluded altogether, but steps were being taken to ensure good, non-Oman blood lines were available.

As part of Gene Ireland and in association with the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF), breeding information collated by ICBF has been analysed to identify animals completely distinct from Oman.