Edmond Connolly farms an 8-cow pedigree Angus herd under the Aughnabroone prefix, just outside the town of Carrick-On-Suir, Co. Tipperary.

Edmond has been using the HerdPlus service since 2014 and displays exemplary levels of engagement and data recording which can be seen through his participation in the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme Suckler (BEEP-S) and his consistent recording of birth weights.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Replacement Index: Cows €115, Heifers €122, Calves €139

Calves/cow/year: 0.94

Calving interval: 350

6-week calving: 50%

Heifers calved 22-26 months: 50%

% AI usage: 67%

Edmond operates a Spring calving system, using AI on the herd to maximise the rate of genetic gain, followed by a stock bull to “mop up” any cows not in calf. As the primary market for the Aughnabroone herd is breeding bulls suitable for use in dairy herds, easy calving is of upmost importance. In addition, he places an emphasis on selecting bulls with high Replacement and Terminal indexes. Edmond has used sexed semen in the past however, he finds that there is not a wide range of sires available to choose from.

All replacements are bred from AI to introduce genetic diversity into the herd. When selecting heifers Edmond focuses on their Replacement Index and dam performance to ensure that they “have plenty of milk” as he believes this is “an extremely important trait for all suckler herds.”

Edmond found his participation in BDGP extremely beneficial commenting that the data recording and genotyping requirements were “very useful for decision making on farm” He has confirmed he will continue with BDGP 2021.

As part of BEEP-S all cows and calves were weighed on the same day. By measuring the live weight of the calf at weaning as a percentage of the cow’s live weight, weaning efficiency is calculated. On his most recent Weaning Performance report, the average cow liveweight was 693kg with an average weaning efficiency of 40%. The highest weaning efficiency was on a first calver at 50%. According to Edmond, his ideal cow type is “an animal with a liveweight of 600-700kgs, good carcass conformation with a good square shape and length.”

Edmond has been participating in the Whole Herd Performance Recording (WHPR) programme since 2019. As part of this, all pedigree animals are weighed and scored by ICBF annually. This extra data is incorporated into the indexes to give a more reliable and accurate picture of the animal’s performance.

With all animals in the herd now genotyped, the next logical step was for Edmond to sign up to the DNA Calf Registration programme, which sees all calves being parentage verified at birth. This has been working very well to date.

On the sustainability front, Edmond is involved in GLAS. Therefore, he is mindful of not having too high a stocking rate in addition to soil testing, liming and trying to move away from pesticides. He is also focusing on establishing clover back into the swards.

Going forward, Edmond will continue to expand the herd while utilizing the science and technology available to him such as embroyo transfer and sexed semen.