The Next Gen Hereford youth group visited the ICBF Tully Beef Centre last Saturday 4th September. The group met at 10am and were welcomed by Niall Kilrane.
Niall is a full time employee at the Beef centre and is involved in the research that is carried out there. Niall gave a full tour of the working farm and detailed the research being carried out there and the results seen so far. Tully is the largest single site for collection of growth, feed efficiency, carcase, methane production and meat eating quality data. There are 267 Hereford sired animals involved in the research so far and there are 41 Hereford sires represented. In order for the most accurate results to be generated – all stock are put through a 70 day cycle on the farm and each Pedigree sire being researched must be represented by at least 10 progeny from different farms, different types of cows and varying backgrounds to be able to decide on bull performance.
Research & Results
ICBF run the WHPR programme (Whole Herd Performance Recording) which has currently been revamped. The new WHPR will focus on weighing only animals aged 0 -150 days of age and weighing and scoring animals aged 151 – 365 days of age. The weighing can be carried out at the same time as the BEEP inspections which will eliminate the €45 call out charge payable to ICBF. The cost thereafter is €5 per animal weighed and just one annual visit is required. This revamped version of the WHPR is more attractive to breeders in that it has been made more accessible and can be completed as part of a BEEP visit also.
The next programme is Gene Ireland. There has been a six-fold increase in the number of bulls tested per year over seven years. The more bulls that are tested the better and more accurate the data will be. Since 2015, the Dairy Beef Index has increased from a value of €23 to a value of €45 which is very positive. The advantage of the Hereford here is that the Hereford already has the market share and the distinctive white face is a huge marketing benefit.
Meat Eating Quality Evaluations
Meat eating quality is also a major research under going in Tully over five years in partnership with Teagasc. The trial involves assessing 5500 animals for tenderness, flavour & juiciness by a trained tasting panel. From the research carried out – ICBF can now determine that Tenderness has the highest heritability meaning that genetics can directly affect the tenderness of beef. The good news for Herefords is that the research carried out has shown that Herefords have ranked at the top of the table across all breeds for tenderness with a result of 85% satisfactory as well as ranking very high for both flavour and juiciness.
ICBF also measure how much methane cattle emit while housed indoors as part of the ‘Rumen Predict’ Programme. The research is carried out using an the GreenFeed Systems installed in the cattle shed. Each animal is fitted with an RFID ear tag which allows the GreenFeed to identify animals individually. As the animal approaches the GreenFeed, a small amount of feed is dropped to both attract and keep the animal positioned at the machine. Feed is dropped every 30 seconds over a 3 minute period with animal access to the machine evenly spread over the day. While the animal is feeding, the GreenFeed estimates methane emissions by extracting the air surrounding the animal’s head and filtering it by a sensor which determines the amount of methane the animal emits in between feeding. As traits, both feed efficiency and methane production are related and it has been shown that cattle which are more feed efficient emit less methane which is positive for both the farmer and the environment.
Many thanks to Niall for welcoming the group to Tully and giving a great tour!