The McGrath family operate a full time suckler beef enterprise near Mitchelstown in Co Cork. 85 cows are calved in a 100% AI, closed herd spring calving system. An interesting feature of the herd is the fact that every animal in the herd is sired by an AI bull. The main breeds used are Charolais, Limousin and Simmental with some Salers and Angus also being used in recent years. The average Replacement Index of the cows in the herd is an impressive €110 – this compares to the national average of approximately €87. This high level of genetic merit is backed up with a hugely impressive set of KPIs for such a large herd. The most recent figures for the herd indicate an average calving interval of just 359 days with calves per cow per year running at 1.03.
The aim of the herd is to produce genetically balanced animals. As it is a closed herd, female calves need to be suitable for breeding or feeding whilst the male calves are required to generate a profit from a system that is run on purely commercial principles. Many animals from the herd have also been purchased for the Tully Test Centre over the years where they have consistently performed exceptionally well.
William has been using DIY AI for the last 15 years and the most recent calf crop saw 100% of the calves being sired by AI bulls. They have also been using Gene Ireland straws since the programme began back in 2007. The use of these Gene Ireland bulls forms a key part of the annual breeding plan on the farm. One of the most successful sires used over the years is Ewdenvale Ivor (LM2014). William has found that this 5 star bull ticks all the boxes for him in terms of easy calving, good growth rates and the daughters consistently turn into medium sized productive mothers.
Alongside Gene Ireland, the herd are also active participants in HerdPlus, BDGP and BEEP-S. One of the standout cows in the herd is 372224671521041. Sired by the Gene Ireland tested Kickhams Handsome (SI4322), she was born in March 2019. This cow first calved at 24 months and has produced a calf each year with a lifetime average calving interval of just 359 days. Her 2022 born calf was a bull sired by the Gene Ireland bull Nebbiolo (LM3713). This calf was weighed for the BEEP-S scheme and was 294 kgs at 171 days. This calculates into a most impressive 1.45 kgs per day. The cow herself currently has a Replacement Index of €177 and weighed 665 kgs in August 2022. She is 5 stars across breed for Milk and Carcass Weight and is another example of what can be achieved in the suckler beef industry through a combination of genetics and top-class management.
See Gene Ireland Sire Directory Spring 2023 to check out the bulls that are currently available for the Spring 2023 Beef Gene Ireland Programme. For more information call the HerdPlus office on 023-8820452.