Robert and Sinead Frost from Kilkishen, Co. Clare were the overall winners of the Dairy FBD and ICBF competition in the under 100 cow herd category.
Herds were initially shortlisted based on the analysis of a number of key performance indicators including, but not limited to, fertility, calving and data recording.
Following on from this analysis, herds were involved in a telephone interview, where they discussed their own farming practices, breeding strategies and grassland management.
The Frost family operate the Carraig pedigree Holstein Friesian herd in Co. Clare. The herd EBI has gone from strength to strength over the past number of years now sitting at €157 in the most recent evaluation. When asked about the strengths in the herd, Robert noted that;
“The quick fix historically was to move towards crossbreeding, however by working with EBI in our herd, we have made significant advancements.”
By working with EBI and using a strong panel of high EBI bulls year on year, this herd has seen a 20% increase in the overall herd EBI in the last 3 years.
When selecting bulls for the breeding season, Robert focuses on fertility, striving to use bulls with a fertility sub index of €120-€130. The HerdPlus application, Sire Advice Plus has proven to be a key tool when selecting bulls in this herd. Robert uses the bull selector tool on Sire Advice to select a team of 5-6 bulls that meet the criteria he is looking for in the herd.
The herd has been actively involved in the Gene Ireland Breeding Programme since 2016, taking straws every Spring and incorporating them into the bull team.
The breeding season in the Carraig herd typically lasts for 13 weeks, from 1st May until mid-July. Fertility aids in the herd include tail paint and heat monitors. As a result of using these fertility aids combined with excellent on farm management, the herd has an empty rate of around 6% annually.
Since 2018, genotyping heifer calves has become standard practice and a key component in the herd’s replacement strategy. When selecting replacements, Robert chooses well grown, high EBI heifers with proven ancestry performance.
Milk recording has proved critical in providing essential data and also highlights the excellent on-farm management that is clearly seen through the herd’s very impressive SCC average of 58 in 2019.
Cows are generally turned out around the 10th-12th February and are housed from the 1st November. Regular grass measuring and soil sampling are common practice on this herd.
ICBF would like to congratulate Robert and Sinead on this achievement and we wish them the very best for the future.
A special word of thanks goes to our sponsors, FBD Trust, as without their continued support, this event and competition would not be possible.
More information on winners and photos from the ICBF & Sheep Ireland Genetics Conference will be available on icbf.com and our social media platforms.