At the annual ICBF & Sheep Ireland Genetics Conference in Killenard on the 17th of January the winners and finalists of the FBD Eurostar €200 Commercial Herd Competition 2019 were announced.

For this competition, herds had the opportunity to enter after meeting several requirements. These herds were shortlisted on several KPIs, and subsequently were visited by reps from ICBF, Teagasc and The Irish Farmers Journal. Herd owners were interviewed about farming practices, breeding plans, grassland management and the future for the farm. Visual observations were made in relation to farm safety, attitude towards the environment and overall farm presentability. The three finalists for Connacht & Ulster are profiled below.

Shane & Grainne Keaveney, with Michael Doran ICBF Chair & Michael Berkery FBD

Connacht/Ulster – 3 nominees

Shane & Grainne Keaveney

‘The Keaveney’s operate a 32 cow suckler to beef system outside Ballinlough in Co. Roscommon. The herd has an average Repl Index of €101 and achieved an exceptional fertility performance in 2019 with a calving interval of 356 days. Shane and Grainne use the farm as a social farming unit and regularly host visitors who help out on the farm. They state that social farming is a way of giving something back to the community and it also acts as another income stream.

Denis O’Brien

‘Denis runs a herd of 30 continental suckler cows and aims to produce high value weanlings to be sold in Roscommon mart each autumn. The cattle enterprise run alongside a flock of 140 ewes near Knockcroghery in Co Roscommon. With an average Repl Index of €107 and 100% AI usage this herd achieved a very impressive calving interval figure of 366 days in 2019. A clearly defined system with a strong emphasis on health and safety were stand out features which impressed the judges on this farm’

James Strain

‘James keeps 35 cows in a store and beef system in Burt, Co Donegal. This herd has an average Repl Index of €101 and an impressive calving interval figure of 363 days for 2019. James weighs animals regularly usually at housing, turnout and mid-season. James would be well known as a former participant in the BETTER Farm programme, it was clear to the judges that James has put the learnings from the programme to good use on this impressive suckler unit.

The winner of the Connacht/Ulster category of the FBD Eurostar €200 Commercial Herd Competition 2019 was announced on the day as Shane & Grainne Keaveney. ICBF would like to congratulate the Keaveney’s on their win and acknowledge the continued support of FBD as without their sponsorship these awards could not take place.