Richard Fortune is a pedigree Salers breeder, based in Castlebridge just outside Wexford town. The farm is run by Richard, his father Joe and his mother Stasia. The herd operates under the herd name Knottown Salers. Richard’s name is well represented on the ICBF Stock Bull Finder, with many of the highest Replacement Index bulls on the list coming from the Fortune’s herd.
The herd runs about 115 pedigree Salers cows along with 5 Charolais cows. Approximately 50 of the Salers are crossed with a Charolais bull and the rest are run as pedigree. The pedigree herd has an exceptional average Replacement Index of a €198 placing it in the top 1% in the country. The herd has a 5 star average Daughter milk figure of +6.6 and 5 star average daughter calving interval of -4.11. This is backed up by 100% of the heifers coming into the herd calving between 22 and 26 months.
Background to the herd
The farm started with Charolais in 1987 and 11 years later in 1998, the first Salers females were bought. This was a cow and heifer from Adrian Lannon, Ballyhaunis. Over the course of the following 10 years heifers were bought from the Moygara, Wicklow, Sligo, Dunlo and Brownhall herds in Ireland, as well as 10 heifers bought from France. Richard made his first trip to France in 2003 and bought a maiden heifer Tulipe. Tulipe went on to produce 12 calves with an exceptional average calving interval of 359 days. The other most significant purchase for the herd was a set of French born twin cows; Unique and Usance. These were bought at a clearance sale in Ireland. Usance won the first RDS Champion of Champions Replacement Index award in 2013.
The herd does not show at summer shows but does show at some pre-sale shows, in which they won champion heifer at the Spring premier in 2016. Two bulls have been purchased for the Gene Ireland Program; Knottown Michael (KTM), and Knottown Roy who is an exceptionally high indexed bull. Semen from Knottown Roy will be available in the Autumn 2018 Gene Ireland Programme.
Sires that have made an impact on the herd over the years include Gitan (GIN), who has bred many excellent females in the herd. More recently Beguin (SA4059), has been the stand out performer. Over the last 10 years most calves have been sired by imported French stockbulls. Of these stockbulls, Buron was the most successful. He was purchased in 2007 at the French bull test station. He features in the majority of the current herds pedigree. His daughters are milky cows with excellent docility. This is reflected in Buron’s 5-star replacement index of €251 and his 5-star docility and daughter milk figure. A homebred stockbull, Knottown Hermes who goes back to the prolific cow Tulipe, bred very successfully within the Knottown herd before being sold onto another pedigree breeder. Hermes has sired nearly 250 progeny as a stockbull.
What attracted you to WHPR?
‘We are big believers in recording information and have been linear scoring and recording liveweights etc for many years. We started recording birthweights for every calf 6/7 years ago. It was therefore a natural progression to join the WHPR program. We are lucky enough to have very good and relatively stable indexes which is a result of all those years of records. With the amount of animals we have the visit was spread over 2 days which is a significant investment in time but the process is relatively stress free and the scorer is very professional.’
This illustrates the importance of recording information within the pedigree and suckler herd. Richard has recorded a substantial level of birthweights and liveweights over the years and is seeing the benefits of this now within the indexes.
‘It is very important that buyers have confidence in pedigree breeders and the information they provide ICBF. In my experience if someone has a good experience with a purchased animal they will be back for more and might bring his neighbour with him but if he has a bad one that’s the end of him and everyone he tells. We have already sold 1 bull through the stockbull finder and have another man coming to look shortly!
To view bulls that have been weight recorded by ICBF, click the link below to go to the Stockbull Finder. This is an online sales section for bulls from WHPR herds. Search by breed and county to filter down selections!
Stock Bull Finder