Sean Brady along with his family, farm the Kilkitt pedigree Simmental herd outside Castleblaney, Co Monaghan. The herd’s Replacement Index now ranks in the top 10% nationally, having increased from €102 in 2016 to €118 in 2021. The Bradys have had great success in selling their ‘Kilkitt’ Simmentals who have proven to be very popular in both suckler and dairy herds. Bulls have been sold both from home and through the Premier Breed Society sales.
2020 was an excellent year for the Kilkitt herd. They achieved an average calves/cow/year figure of 1.04 as well as 0% mortality. The herd operates a split calving season with the majority Autumn calving.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Replacement Index: Cows €118, Heifers €116, Calves €121
Calving interval: 372
6-week calving: Spring 50% Autumn 67%
% AI usage: 59%
Sean has been signed up to the HerdPlus service since 2013 and is actively engaged in high levels of data recording, which can be seen through his involvement in the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme-Sucklers (BEEP-S) Knowledge Transfer (KT) and the Whole Herd Performance Recording (WHPR) programme. Sean has been getting his herd independently assessed by ICBF annually since 2018 and has been linear scoring his pedigree stock since 2013.
One of the benefits of the WHPR programme is the ability to market bulls on the ICBF Stockbull finder. Animals in participating herds have a WHPR stamp displayed beside their €uro-Stars to clearly identify that they are from a ‘Performance Recorded’ herd. For the Kilkitt herd, the ICBF Stockbull finder has proven to be a very useful tool for new buyers finding their bulls and they have even exported a bull to Italy. Having the bulls independently weighed, linear scored and genotyped gives the bulls the highest reliability for their indexes without having progeny on the ground. Currently, 6 Kilkitt bulls can be found on the ICBF Stockbull Finder.
Sean has confirmed that he will be participating in BDGP 2021 as he found his involvement in the original scheme was already aligned with his breeding strategy so he “didn’t have to change much of what he was already doing.” The genotyping requirement of the scheme has been extremely useful as has become routine practice in the Kilkitt herd. A proportion of the herd and all bulls are genotyped before being sold to ensure that they have more accurate proofs and are parentage verified.
When selecting bulls, Sean places an emphasis on milk, docility, fertility, good feet and legs and easy calving. Conformation and high growth rates are also traits of importance for the Kilkitt herd. 100% AI is used on the pedigree proportion of the herd to allow for outcross genetics to be introduced and to individually match bulls to cows to maximise genetic gain.
Sean took part BEEP-S whereby all cows and calves were weighed to calculate weaning efficiency. He also took on meal feeding as an additional action. The average cow liveweight was 770kg with an average weaning efficiency of 42%. The highest weaning efficiency was on a 1st calver at 51%. The average 200-day weight was 304kg for females and 331kg for males.
Going forward, Sean intends to maintain numbers in the Kilkitt herd. He plans to continue improving the herd’s breeding and efficiency through bull selection, genotyping and essential data recording. He looks forward to the next Brady generation becoming more involved in the running of the family farm.