A newly-launched sire reference scheme for the Shorthorn cattle breed will see beef Shorthorn breeders across the UK being offered the chance to use semen from a trio of top-performance sires at discounted prices.

According to the society’s operations manager Clive Brown, the new scheme has been designed “to improve genetic linkage within the breed” and follows on the back of the breed introducing genomic evaluations last autumn.

He said: “The introduction of genomic evaluations has already resulted in increased accuracy values of estimated breeding values (EBV) and the society is seeking to build on that, in part, by offering semen from a number of young sires each year to boost the levels of genetic linkage between herds.

“This will assist in the society’s objective of building a solid foundation of performance recording to enhance the use of EBVs within the breed.

“Bulls will be selected for the scheme based on a specific set of criteria aimed at continual improvement in the breed, with these criteria having the potential to vary slightly depending on the society’s focus area.

“The society’s main objective is to have the reference sires used in as many herds as possible, large and small, forging strong genetic links.”

To kickstart the scheme, the society has selected a trio of bulls:

  • Mayfield Nimrod;
  • Stanfordpark Specialedition;
  • Vale Meadows Flossy’s Cavalier.

These sires will be available to breeders in the whole of Great Britain, with breeders able to select semen from two out of the three.

Due to export restrictions on semen, just Vale Meadows Flossy’s Cavalier, will be available for members in Northern Ireland.

Both Mayfield Nimrod and Stanfordpark Specialedition have performance figures in the top 1% of the breed for terminal index and self-replacing index, while Vale Meadows Flossy’s Cavalier carries a self-replacing index in the top 10% of the breed and a terminal index in the top 30% of the breed.

The society’s operations manager said: “These young bulls have been selected to offer breeders the chance to access top-level genetics with strong pedigrees, balanced performance and good phenotype and semen will be offered to society members at a discounted rate.

“However, in order to maximise use of the semen within the 12 months it is available, members will be limited to the number of straws they can purchase, depending on herd size.

“Additionally, to ensure improvements in accuracy levels can be achieved, members will be asked to commit to performance recording the offspring resulting from these inseminations.”

The society has expressed optimism that members will take up this offer, helping to maximise genetic progress and EBV accuracy in the breed as a result of using these trait leading sires within their herds.