The Kelly farm partnership operate a beef and tillage enterprise near Killenaule in Co Tipperary. 90 cows are calved in the spring with all replacements bred from within the herd. In 2023, 85% of the calf crop were sired by AI. Most of the progeny are finished as bull beef at ~ 18 months and heifers at 18 to 22 months. The Kellys have also sold several batches of Gene Ireland sired animals to ICBF for the Tully Test Centre over the years. The herd are active participants in HerdPlus, Gene Ireland and SCEP.
The cows are bred to AI for the first ten weeks and three home bred bulls are used for the last four weeks. 50 test bull straws are selected annually from the Gene Ireland catalogue and used at the start of the AI season to produce high quality replacements. These are then followed by a focus on higher terminal index type sires. The target is to have twenty replacements calving under 24 months with a balance of replacement and terminal traits. All the first calving heifers are bred to Angus AI sires. The predominant cow breed is a Limousin and Simmental mix. Charolais and Belgian Blue high terminal index sires are used on suitable cows or later calving cows. The herd is split into two groups of 45 cows and rotationally grazed with tail paint topped up every 3 days to aid heat detection.
The average Replacement Index of the cows in the herd is a most impressive €120 – this compares to the national average of approximately €97. 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 366 days compared to the national average of 390 days.
One of the standout cows in the herd is tag 1065. Sired by the famous EBY, she was born in 2016. This cow first calved at 24 months and has produced a calf each year with a lifetime average calving interval of just 370 days. Her 2023 born calf was a bull sired by Curaheen Gunshot and was gaining 1.33 kg/day when weighed near weaning. Her 2022 born heifer was also sired by Gunshot and has been retained in the herd for breeding. The cow herself currently is 5 stars with a Replacement Index of €137 and weighed 780 kgs when weighed in the summer of 2023. She is yet another example of what can be achieved in the suckler industry through a combination of elite genetics and top-class management.
If you would like to participate in the Beef Gene Ireland Programme this Spring, please contact the HerdPlus team on 023-8820452 or email [email protected].
More information on the bulls available this year can be found here.