Welsh Black breeding initiative starts to show results
A scheme to improve the iconic Welsh Black cattle breed is already showing results, according to Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales.
The £60,000 project to record the performance of the animals in terms of carcase trials and maternal ability was launched in 2010.
Run by the Welsh Black Cattle Society and funded by HCC under the Rural Development Plan for Wales, the scheme is already a success according to HCC project Executive Dewi Hughes.
“The second test bull was selected in August 2012, and he scored very highly on growth, muscle and breed type,” said Mr Hughes. “He was noticeably docile and had a high fertility score.
“Semen will be taken from him which will be made available to breeders free of charge.”
The project involves the selection of top young bulls which are monitored at IBERS’ Gogerddan site near Aberystwyth.
“A bull with superior performance figures can result in the value of any subsequent calves increasing by up to £47,” said Mr Hughes. “So this project makes sense to anyone who wishes to improve the breeding traits of their livestock and increase the value of their herd.”
HCC also fund Welsh Black Cattle Society members to record the performance of their livestock. This includes monitoring the maternal traits and carcase traits to assist in selecting the best performing animals.
Participating herds also evaluate their cows on physical soundness with a system called BodySUM which costs £2 per cow. This evaluation should be undertaken when the majority of cows are in milk, preferably freshly calved, and in time the result will be shown alongside Estimated Breeding Values on the HCC website.
“Selective breeding programmes instigated by farmers have steadily improved cattle breeds over hundreds of years,” said Mr Hughes. “This scheme is already showing signs of enhancing and accelerating this natural process for members of the Welsh Black Cattle Society.”