John Appelbe along with his family, farm the Carrigroe pedigree Angus and polled Hereford herd just outside of Clonakilty in Co. Cork. They are the 5th generation of pedigree breeding in the herd. The herd’s current Replacement index of €139 is in the top 5%. John uses a combination of AI and Stockbulls and operates a year-round calving system with the majority calving in Spring/Summer.

The Carrigroe breeding has proven extremely popular in both suckler and dairy herds. The aim of the herd is to breed high quality bulls for the dairy and suckler markets. The Appelbe family specialise in breeding bulls that are easy calving, short gestation with good carcass merit. Over the last 10 years, the Carrigroe herd has seen several of their bulls go into AI. Every year a number of cattle are exported to mainland Europe, however their main market is local dairy and suckler farmers in the West Cork area.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s):

  • Replacement Index Cows: €139
  • Calving Interval: 374 days
  • Calves/Cow/Year: 0.96
  • Average Age 1st Calving: 25 months
  • Weaning Efficiency (All): 39%
  • Weaning Efficiency (1st Calvers): 45%
  • Percentage AI usage: 81%

John has been signed up to the HerdPlus service for many years and is actively engaged in high levels of data recording which can be seen through his involvement in the Beef Data & Genomics Programme (BDGP), the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme-Sucklers (BEEP-S) and more recently the DNA Calf Registration Pilot Programme.

“I would recommend the HerdPlus service to all farmers. The information available allows me to make more informed breeding and culling decisions in my herd. While it’s important to know the top performing animals it’s more important to know the under performing animals. I regularly use the inbreeding checker when considering new bulls to use on the herd.”

“I found the BDGP scheme excellent. It meant getting paid for things that we were already actively doing anyway. We were always striving towards breeding high index cows to make our herd more efficient. It meant that we had more accurate data on the cows in the herd. We are involved in the new Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) also. Involvement in these schemes will definitely contribute to making our farm more efficient and profitable.”

John had been involved in the DNA Calf Registration Pilot Programme from 2018-to date. Based on his positive experience with the pilot programme, he has subsequently signed up for the new National Genotyping Programme (NGP).

“It’s brilliant. We tag the calves at birth with their standard tag, the same as the BVD. We get the BVD sample from one ear and the DNA sample from the other. Post off your sample, fill in the app with the date the calf was born, the sire and the dam and normally then within a week you get back the confirmation of the sire and the dam. Occasionally we would AI cows to 2 different bulls and the DNA shows up then within a week with the correct sires. You have all the correct information before the calf is registered and the passport is issued.”

We are very happy to continue genotyping at birth in the new National Genotyping Programme. We would definitely recommend all farmers to sign up. It takes a bit of getting used to the first few times but once you get into it, it becomes second nature. It means less mistakes and less corrections. Genotyping for the SCEP scheme is done at birth meaning no more rounding animals up at a later stage to sample them.”

The Carrigroe herd takes a portion of Beef Gene Ireland straws annually. John does this so that he has access to the latest and greatest genetics year on year. “We always use a percentage of them. Generally, they are high-index bulls. It is important to try them out and get in early when they are being tested”.

Profitability continues to be the main breeding goal in the Carrigroe herd. John is striving to produce a product that the market requires.

When it comes to selling to the suckler market, John will continue to breed high 4–5-star Replacement stock. “We have noticed that, previous buyers have found themselves in a secure position as they now have very little work to do in terms of scheme requirements. Buying the high Replacement Index bull and making more informed breeding decisions is resulting in the next generation of replacements meeting their scheme targets easily. “

In terms of the dairy market, the Dairy Beef Index is playing a greater role when it comes to bull selection. There is a definite increase in concern from the dairy farmer about the quality of the calf they are producing. They are more aware of their future calf buyers. There will be more and more focus on the indexes from dairy farmer as people buying dairy beef calves over the next few years will want to purchase high CBV. “

ICBF Stockbull Finder:

The Carrigroe herd regularly has a number of bulls available on the ICBF Stockbull finder. Check it out to see what he currently has available.