Dairy farmers all know the convenience of the dominant ‘white face’ in calves sired by Hereford bulls. It is a quick and easy management tool captured in the NZ Hereford Association’s campaign slogan – The White Face Advantage.

However, choosing a breed is one thing, but choosing the right bull is another. Selection of the right genetics to suit your business is paramount which is why each year the NZ Hereford Association runs an analysis to assist dairy farmers in identifying suitable bulls for their herds.

The criteria to be eligible for the Boehringer Ingelheim Merit Dairy Sire award includes low birth weight, high growth and good maternal index.

Using these criteria, the programme identifies sires which will be ideal for use within dairy beef programmes. It is a tool that should be used in conjunction with eye appraisal for structural soundness and smooth shoulders which also positively assist calving ease.

To qualify for NZ Herefords Merit Dairy Sire status, registered Hereford bulls must have a maximum of +1.6kg for birthweight (in top 10% for bull calf drop), top 20% for the dairy maternal index and top 70% for 600-day growth rate. Interestingly when the programme first started in 2013 the maximum birth weight to be eligible for the award was +3.7kg, so breeders have successfully reduced birthweight and retained genetics to grow calves into prime beef.

A list of the Boehringer Ingelheim Merit Dairy Sire breeders can be found easily on the NZ Hereford website, by clicking on the red dot on the home page Herefords.co.nz.

Alternatively, dairy farmers can look for the brand at Hereford bull spring sales. Herefords are one breed that can deliver in both areas.

The association warns farmers not to persist in playing Russian roulette with ‘bush bulls’. The genetic variation within all breeds dictates that now more than ever dairy farmers need to be armed with good bull selection tools.

More? herefords.co.nz/bull-sale-calendar