Kieran Noonan runs a pedigree and commercial suckler herd in Tullylease, Charleville, Co. Cork. He runs his Limousins under the name of Dromanig and his Herefords and Angus’ under the name Doubletree. Kieran has been breeding pedigree animals for a number of years and frequently uses the HerdPlus service to aid in his breeding and management decisions. As a result, Kieran continues to increase the genetic merit of his herd annually.
The herd’s overall Replacement Index currently sits at €112, which is in the top 11% of sucker herds nationally. Kieran’s Calving interval has seen a great reduction in the last year and has him sitting in the top 30% nationally. This year his calving interval for the herd was 381 days.
“I like to look down the pages of the Eurostar Index and find where a cow is lacking in stars and I’ll match a few bulls with her that will bring up the value of that particular sub index and not negatively impact other indexes”.
Kieran is set in his goals as a pedigree breeder and as a commercial beef farmer. Breeding functional cattle for local dairy farmers and suckler farmers, Kieran needs bulls that will have a short gestation and calve easy, with daughters that will rear a great calf through her own milk. By using the HerdPlus service Kieran can analyse his data recorded and identify the best of his animals to breed from through Eurostars, fertility records and weight recording reports. Accurate data recording has been imperative to this.
“My goal is to breed cattle that are short gestation, low maintenance, easy calving and can thrive on a grass based diet with minimum extra feeding”
Kieran finds the suckler cow report the most beneficial out of all the reports HerdPlus has to offer. This gives everything on the one page for each breeding female, split between her own performance and her progenies performance. It gives her parentage, her birth/weaning/mature weight, replacement index, age at first calving, calving interval and how good she scored each year for milk and docility. Her progeny details include their jumbo, sire, gestation, birth weight, weaning weight and slaughter weight/grade. This report gives Kieran the best insight into each breeding female and helps particularly when deciding what animals to cull.
Scheme & Programme Participation
As an AI technician with Munster Bovine, Kieran has a keen interest in breeding and bull selection. The goal is to find a selection of bulls for each cow that will complement the cow’s Euro-Star rating. Kieran frequently participates in the Beef Gene Ireland programme and has seen great success in his herd over the years. By using AI Kieran can hand pick bulls that will complement the specific cows in the herd, whereas using one or two stock bulls can limit the genetic gain of the herd.
“I like to look down the pages of the Eurostar Report and see all 4 and 5 stars. When a cow is lacking stars, I’ll select a bull that will compliment that with the goal of having a calf that has a higher, more rounded index than it’s mother.”
Kieran has been consistently weighing the animals in the herd over the past several years, which has helped increase the reliability of his animals Eurostars and aided in his breeding decisions. Due to the farm being on quite heavy land, suckler cows with weights between 550kg and 650kg work best for him as they do not poach the land as much as their heavier counterparts. By weighing his weanlings every year he can see which dams have the best mothering ability in relation to milk production. His cows receive very limited meal (1kg/day during the breeding season for autumn calving cows up until scanning), so a low maintenance milky cow suits his system best. He is signed up again to the BDGP scheme and the BEEP-S scheme to weigh his animals, faecal sample and meal feed calves before weaning to reduce stress.
“I really like the BEEP scheme, I have been weighing and faecal sampling my animals for years so it is nice to be rewarded for it”.
“As a pedigree breeder I have really seen the benefit in the Beef Data and Genomics Programme. Genotyping pedigree animals is the cheapest insurance you can get in terms of having the correct parentage – a must have in pedigree breeding. It has also given a great market for 4 and 5 star bulls. Before buyers didn’t bat an eyelid at what stars a bull was, now it is a big talking and selling point.”
The herd is also involved in the Whole Herd Performance Recording (WHPR) which has increased the reliability of the herd and resulted in the sale of several bulls.
“I have recently joined Whole Herd Performance Programme and I sold 2 bulls this year off the stock bull finder, with several more enquiries.”
Dromanig Sonny (€162) is 4th in Cork for Limousin Bulls on the Replacement Index. See his indexes below on the animal search.
16 of Kieran’s breeding females are sired by Beef Gene Ireland Graduates such as Castleview Gringo (GWO) and Keltic Handsome (OKH). One such commercial cow, sired by Lisnacrann Dermertios (LZZ) with a replacement index of €150 (5 star across breed) is in the top 4% for maternal weaning weight, which is a testament to this cow’s milk ability. Her calf last year had a 200 day weight of 295Kg, which means she weaned her calf at 60% her bodyweight. Double Tree Nadia, a pedigree Hereford cow sired by Gageboro Morgan (GGM) has a replacement index of €120 and her maternal weaning weight is in the top 4% across all breeds and top 12% for Herefords.
Doubletree Uncle Joe, an Angus bull calf born in April 2021 has a replacement index of €129 and a daughter milk figure of +8.10Kg, which puts him in the top 10% of bulls for maternal weaning weight across all breeds. This Bull calf was sired by Mogeely Joe (MLJ), a graduate of the Gene Ireland programme. His dam, DoubleTree Nuala (Replacement SI €108) had a weaning efficiency of 52% after weaning her previous calf at 315Kg. The last pedigree Limousin gene Ireland calf to be born in the herd was Dromanig Tiger, sired by LM4351 (Grenache) and this calf has a replacement index of €150. This bull calf has a daughter milk figure of +5.10Kg, which puts him at the top 2% within the Limousin breed for Maternal weaning weight, he will go on to be a great cow maker. His dam Dromanig Perrie (Doudou x Glenlara Fina) is in the top 3% of limousins for maternal weaning weight, with a daughter milk figure of +4.2Kg.
Below is August 2022 Born calf Dromanig Tanya, sired by Tomschoice Lexicon. This calves dam has a replacement index of €182 and is +8Kg’s for daughter milk. With a reliability of 70%, this puts her in the top 1% of limousins. The average weight of her calves at weaning is 295Kg, and with an average calving interval of 366 days this makes her a cow worth keeping. Her daughters have been retained in the herd due to their milking and mothering abilities. Within breed, this cow is in the top 5% for gestation length with an average gestation length of 284 days, which can correlate with increased profit in both dairy and suckler herds.
Below is Dromanig Sarah, sired by LM5983 another graduate of the Gene Ireland programme. Her current Replacement Index is €166. She has a heifer calving difficulty of 5.3% and a cow calving difficulty of 2.6%, this heifer could breed a very easy calving Limousin if the sire is correctly chosen. She also has a Carcass weight of +26.5Kg putting her in the top 12% of all breeds.
Below is an example of Kieran’s weaning efficiency in the herd. He is above the targets for all groups of animals on average. All his most efficient cows in terms of weaning can be seen in the second box and they all have high replacement indexes, with the exception of 457 and 95. These two cows have a lower replacement index than the others, however they both have very high maternal weaning weights and they are 44% and 17% for maternal weaning weight nationally. The average Replacement index of the top 5 cows is €129 and the average replacement of the bottom 5 cows is €96 and this difference of €33 is reflected in the weaning weights and percentages.
Dromanig King (LM4302) is a bull bred by Kieran that was bought and used in Dovea AI. This bull has been massively successful and his daughters which are in their second a third lactations have proven him to be a 5 star bull. After 1,883 calves, Dromanig King has proven himself as a high replacement index sire, with a current replacement index of €156. He also has a terminal index of €129, making him 4 stars across breeds. This bull will bring milk into any herd he is used in, and is more likely to produce high index, BDGP eligible heifers.
The oldest cow on the farm 70199, is a great example of the Replacement Index in action. This Charolais-Simmental cross was born in March 2005 and has a replacement index of €163. This 17-year-old cow has had 16 calves, with an average calving interval of 354 days. She first calved down on the 28th of February 2007 and is due her 17th calf this October. She is in the top 2% nationally for maternal weaning weight and has a calving interval of -4.89 days. Of the 8 slaughter records from her, the average age at slaughter was 24.5 months, with 4 R-grade s and 4 U-Grades. Some of the females off her have been retained in the herd. One such female – 60378, an LZZ cow calved at 23 months and is on her 5 calf with an average calving interval of 283 days, with a replacement index of €150 (5 stars).
Another notable cow is 60750, a Simmental cross Holstein, born March 2009. This 13-year-old has a replacement index of €166 and has had 11 calves. She has a daughter milk index of 20.1Kg’s which puts her in the top 1% of cows nationally for maternal weaning weight. She first calved at 29 months and has a calving interval of 376 days. Of 6 slaughter records, she has 3 R-Grades and 3 U-Grades with an average kill out of 390kg (2340kg/6). Here she is with her Fiston (FSZ) calf (Replacement €140, Terminal €100).
What does the future bring?
With increasing costs of production everywhere, Kieran thinks that the national herd will reduce in the coming years, however he is confident in the quality of pedigree and commercial animals being bred in Ireland. Kieran is quite highly stocked and he will most likely reduce numbers due to input costs and having a young family. Being able to spend time with family is very important to Kieran, and reducing stock numbers and reducing stocking rate will help to devote more time to his family.