The Irish Limousin has long been recognised as the number one continental beef sire for the dairy herd. Limousin calves are highly valued throughout the quality beef production chain with exceptional growth, feed conversion, kill out % and carcass yields. A core focus of the dairy beef breeding programme is to breed and produce Limousin terminal sires specifically for use by Irish dairy farmers.
Multi-trait selection criteria have been established specifically for the dairy beef programme. Limousin sires which meet these criteria are identified and (in collaboration with pedigree Limousin breeders, AI Companies, the ICBF and Gene Ireland) secured for performance testing at Tully.
The database of Limousin sires is analysed every 3 months and the following genetic selection criteria applied:
- Gestation Length <2.3 (EBV corresponds to the top 3% of the Limousin breed).
- Dairy Cow Calving <5.5%.
- Carcass >20Kg (Top 30% of all dairy beef sires; top 70% within the Limousin breed).
- Conformation >2 (Top 6-7% of dairy beef sires; top 75% within the Limousin breed).
- Dairy Beef Index (DBI) > 100 (Top 3% of dairy beef sires; top 25% within the Limousin breed).
A key objective of the programme is to identify breeding lines within the herd-book, which would successfully enhance the gene pool of Limousin for use in the national dairy herd. The extended pedigree of each sire meeting the selection criteria is reviewed to ensure that the linage conforms to a balanced breeding and selection approach. Increased selection intensity is placed on the improver traits while continuing to maintain emphasis on the beef merit (carcass weight, conformation and dressing percentage) benefits combined with the feed conversion and environmental efficiency attributes of the Limousin genotype when compared with other breeds.