UK’s Only Welsh Black Bull Testing Station: Open Day

08 June 2011

The Welsh Black Future Cows Group are holding an Open Day in conjunction with HCC and IBERS at Plas Gogerddan on Thursday, 7th of July, 2011 from 13:00 – 16:00.

The open day marks an end to the first bull evaluation trial at IBERS where breeders will have an opportunity to have their say in regards to the selection procedure.

Over the period 30 bulls will be evaluated in three trials. At the end of each six month trial the most superior bull will be selected for semen collection that will be distributed amongst the fifty Future Cows participating herds.  This will create an across breed Sire reference, making it easier to select the most promising calves of the next generation. As most Welsh Black bulls are reared on small family farms meaningful comparisons between bulls reared under different environments has been difficult.

As a suckler breed the balance between beef and milk producing traits must be maintained.  A second project, developing the BodySUM method of assessment where animals’ body is measured and a mathematical evaluation made of its balance and thus suitability for lifetime production of meat off grass.  Linear assessments are also made of legs and feet and in the females, udder conformation. Calves for the bull trial were originally selected on breed type, conformation and the qualities of their dams. Selection for semen collection will be based on daily live weight gain, feed conversion efficiency, eye muscle area, fat depth, BodySUM and a breeders’ panel. Nutrition specialist Chris Thorpe has been amazed by the daily live weight gain achieved averaging 2kg per day over the first four months of the trial.  Although Welsh Blacks have a reputation of being able to thrive under adverse conditions it just goes to show that they can compete with the best of the Continentals given an adequate plane of nutrition.

IBERS Farms Manager, Dr. Huw McConochie says “the project has given breeders and ourselves an insight into the less characterised traits of the breed providing information which I am sure will benefit our native breed for years to come. The Bull testing station hosted on behalf of the Welsh Black breeders has been a useful addition to the IBERS farms activity portfolio allowing us an opportunity to connect with farmers involved in the project as well as those interested in joining the project in the future.”

HCC, Project Executive Dewi Hughes stated that they were delighted to be involved with this farmer led innovative project. The trial will identify the best performing bull on key traits such as growth and muscularity. The bulls will also be fertility tested, ensuring that the best possible bull is selected.

Although many similar facilities exists on Continental Europe, this is the UK’s only independent bull evaluation facility.

This Cyswllt Amaeth initiative is delivered by Menter a Busnes on behalf of Cynnal y Cardi, the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007/13 which is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

For more information please contact : Anwen Williams at Menter a Busnes:

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