Breed History

The red and white dual purpose breed of cattle known as MRI is descended from the Gelders cattle which was predominantly kept in flood plains of the three large rivers Meuse (Maas), Rhine (Rijn) and Issel (IJssel) in the south of Holland from where the breed originates. The poor living conditions along the rivers created a robust breed able to thrive under difficult circumstances.


The Dutch MRI herd book was registered in the Nederlands Rundvee Syndicaat (NRS) in 1874 and was recognised as a breed in 1905. The German herd book exists since 1900, however, the breed was managed within one breeding area across the Dutch-German border until 1914. Between 1920 and 1950, Belgium, Luxembourg, France and Denmark founded their own red & white dual purpose breeds, based on the Dutch and German stock. In 1969, the breed was introduced into New Zealand. MRI cattle were first imported into Ireland and the UK in the 1970s. The breed also occurs in small numbers in Australia, the USA and Canada.

It is reported that around 1980, approximately 30% of all Dutch cattle were of the MRI breed, i.e. in the region of 600,000 animals. This had decreased to approximately 250,000 animals by 1990. The reason for this was a lack of unrelated, pure bred sires. Many Dutch MRI breeders had no choice but to start using Red Holstein blood on their females, therewith following the path of the MRI cattle in Germany where they are called Rotbunt DN and can contain as much as 25% Holstein blood. In the late 1990s, the breed was again on the increase in its native country, mainly due to demand by organic farmers looking for low input, high output cattle.

The outbreak of the Foot & Mouth Disease in 2001 however had a catastrophic effect on the reviving breed movement. A much affected area within Holland was the Ijssel Valley, by many considered the birthplace of the MRI breed, where a vast amount of pure MRI bloodlines were wiped out. Local farmers there traditionally have a strong bond with their native breed and started picking up the pieces soon after the disease had abated but sadly, the Ijssel Valley is now home to more black and white cattle than ever before. These unfortunate developments make it even more important for MRI breeders in other countries to try and preserve the pure bred status of their herds as much as possible, thereby keeping the breed alive.

Latest News

A.I. Sire Statistics 2014

Here is the Top Ten of most used MRI A.I. sires in Ireland with live offspring born in the calendar year 2014:-

AI Code

Bull Name

MY %

AI Company

2014 Offspring




Dovea Genetics





Dovea Genetics





Progressive Genetics





Progressive Genetics



Sunnyside Don


Dovea Genetics





Dovea Genetics





Eurogene / LIC





Eurogene / LIC





Eurogene / LIC





Eurogene / LIC


(Source of data: ICBF)

Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) 2015 - 2020

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine are currently posting the application form for the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) 2015 - 2020 to herd owners. By entering into the programme farmers are committing to meet the requirements of the BDGP for a full six year period. The closing date for applications is 29 May 2015.

We would like to remind all keepers of MRI cows for suckling purposes, that - as a true dual purpose breed - the MRI are eligible for inclusion in the BDGP as well as all other beef payment schemes.

MRI cow with Limousin bull calf

Progressive Genetics’ MRI Sires 2015

Laurence Feeney, Marketing Manager for Progressive Genetics, has confirmed availability of semen from the following MRI sires:-

Laurence also confirmed that SiryX sexed semen from Dutch MRI sire Marcello is still available at a cost of €45 per straw. Due to the high cost and low usage of sexed semen Progressive Genetics do not carry stock of sexed Marcello semen. Progressive Genetics therefore require intended users to order some weeks in advance, to enable the company to import the semen.

For more information about SiryX sexed semen click here.

To arrange delivery of semen to your local A.I. technician or your own flask, please phone Progressive Genetics on 01 4080743.

Dovea Genetics’ MRI Sires 2015

Pat O'Connor of Dovea last week confirmed availability of semen from the following MRI sires:-

Please note that there may be limited availability of some of the sires listed above!

To arrange delivery of semen to your local A.I. technician or your own flask, please phone Dovea Genetics on 0504 21755.

Damian DN available from Dovea Genetics

Dovea Genetics of Thurles, Co. Tipperary are introducing straws from Dutch MRI bull "Damian DN" for the 2015 spring A.I. season.

Born in Holland in 2007, this Duisenberg x Guido bull's bloodlines may suit many Irish breeders. Damian is classified 100% pedigree MRI, and at time of writing, the following production values apply: Irish EBI 152 (Milk 49); Dutch NVI 162 (Milk 197); German RZG 119 (Milk 121).

According to the German RSH (Rinderzucht Schleswig-Holstein), Damian DN daughters have proven to be well built, with a wide pelvis and sound, well positioned feet and legs. In Germany and Holland, Damian DN is considered easy calving and suitable for heifers. His Dutch ratings for somatic cell count are excellent, no doubt aided by his daughters lengthy teats, however, teat placement is not always ideal. The RSH suggests to pay attention to the udders' comparatively weak central ligament and the slightly low rear udder height.

Official breeding values show Damian DN's daughters to be blessed with immense longevity in Dutch dairy herds, the rating of 251 vastly surpassing the advised average value of 100.

ICBF has issued Damian DN with A.I. code S2301, and any enquiries and orders should be addressed to your local Dovea area representative or their head office (ph. 0504 21755).