Sustainable Livestock Summit: Have you ever watched it?

The Sustainable Farming Summit took place over three evenings earlier this month and focused on all things farming.

The summit was made by Agriland Media Group in collaboration with Progressive Genetics and Munster Bovine.

Sustainable Livestock Summit

Over the three evenings, panels of farmers and experts shared tips on how farmers can get the most genetic gains from their breeding season this year.

The summit focused on both dairy and beef farming, giving farmers an excellent overview of all aspects.

What has the EBI brought to dairy producers?

The first episode of the summit focused on what the Livestock Economic Index (EBI) has brought to dairy farmers.

Martin Kavanagh of Munster Bovine was joined by a panel of experts and breeders to discuss this, as well as a number of other topics.

(L/R) Seamus Hughes, Robert Hovenden, Michael Ryan, George Ramsbottom, Eoghan McCarthy and Martin Kavanagh

Viewers at the summit heard the panel discuss how the EBI has generated €1 billion in additional profits for dairy farmers over the past 20 years, and how farmers have managed the transition from the relative breeding index (RBI) to EBI.

The panel also discussed the importance of selecting your best cows to generate replacements.

Genetics follow from mother to daughter and breeding your best cows should result in the highest quality replacement heifers.

The panel on the first night of the summit also discussed the importance of spreading risk when using bulls.

Nationally, up to one-third of dairy calves born on an individual farm come from the same bull, representing a high risk.

Using a large number of evenly distributed bulls in your herd is the best way to reduce risk.

Reproduction and fertility management

The second episode of the summit focused on breeding and fertility management on dairy farms.

Sustainable Livestock Summit
(L/R) Ben Slee, Denis Howard, James Hanly, Trevor Hanly, George Beattie and Martin Kavanagh

The episode’s panel discussed sexed semen and how they advise farmers to use it on both heifers and cows.

Denis Howard of Munster Bovine explained the term ‘purity’, which is associated with sexed semen and sire selection.

We also heard from Ben Slee, an artificial insemination (AI) technician at Munster Bovine, who advised us to put the odds in your favor.

He offered advice to farmers considering using a synchronization program to maximize conception rates.

We also heard Denis Howard talk about making sure cows are “fully fed” before the breeding season.

He recommends that farmers control the production of their cows and the amount of dry matter they consume.

He also suggested that farmers whose cows have too low a body condition score consider milking once a day (OAD) to reduce the production demands placed on them.

Suckling farm

The latest episode of the summit saw a shift in focus from dairy farming to beef farming.

For this episode we had a new host, John Heslin of MSD, who was joined by a panel of farmers and industry experts.

Sustainable Livestock Summit
(Left to right) John Heslin, Hubert Nicholson, John McDaniel, Ciaran Lenehan and Rose Goulding

The panel discussed technology and the role it has to play in suckler farms, especially during the calving and breeding season.

Ciaran Lenehan spoke about using a calving camera and heat-sensing collars on this farm and how these investments have affected his farming business.

We heard from Rose Goulding, the National Cattle Breeding Center (NCBC) Beef Program Manager about selecting sires for Beef AI.

Rose explained some of the criteria NCBC looks for when selecting a bull to use in AI.

Rose also explained how improving the efficiency of suckler cows will help make farms more profitable and meet our climate obligations.

“From a beef perspective, we’re really, really lucky because anything we do from a livestock perspective to improve sustainability will also improve profitability,” she said.

All episodes of the Sustainable Breeding Summit are available on Agriland.