The breeding season is fast approaching and decisions made in the coming weeks will have a lasting impact on your herd.

Putting all your eggs in one basket, when it comes to sire choices, should be avoided at all costs in herds using AI.

Lest we forget that the heifer calves born on your farm next spring have the potential to stay within your herd for at least 10 years.

As the old saying goes: ‘it’s as easy to feed a good cow as a bad cow‘.

Although it’s all too easy to get caught up in the hunt for stars, particularly for farmers participating in the BDGP scheme, the reliability of a bull’s proof also needs to be given careful consideration.

A new bull to AI may have ‘high’ replacement or terminal index values, but unless he has been tried and tested you can never be sure that he is going to provide you with the calf you need.

To use a simple analogy: Would you buy a pair of wellingtons on the basis that they were the up-and-coming brand, but there was a 50% chance that your feet would get wet on the first day you wore them?

No; then why should your bull choices be any different?

As you sit down to select bulls for the upcoming breeding season, it’s worth remembering that bulls with high reliability figures have already delivered the goods on other farms and are more inclined to do so for you.

However, there is room to use some bulls with lower reliability figures. The newest generation of bulls (in AI) typically have better genetics than their predecessors.

Therefore, it may be necessary to use a team of bulls to ensure that you have all the bases covered for the next generation of calves on your farm.