Brian Campion and his father Jer run the Knockiel Limousin herd based on the edge of Rathdowney in Co. Laois. The herd consists of 30 pedigree cows and 5 commercial cows, with numbers steadily increasing over the last 5 years. The herd is split between spring and autumn calving. Brian works off farm, so Jer is heavily involved in the day to day running of the farm. ‘A lot of jobs such as vaccinations, weighing, dosing etc is done at evenings or weekends when we are both there’.
The farm was originally a tillage and sheep farm when Jer was running it. It was Brian who then looked for alternatives having not much interest in the tillage and sheep enterprises. This lead to the purchase of 3 cows and 2 maiden heifers from Limoges in France in 2000. These 5 animals became the foundation stock of the herd and were sourced with the help of Seamus Cody of the Limousin Society. The females were sired by Espoir, Dauphin and Mozart. This initial purchase from France has been the only female purchase into the herd. The herd gradually built through breeding their own replacements using a mixture of AI and stockbulls. While it is much slower it has allowed the herd to remain as closed as possible.
Knockiel Lorenzo as a bull calf
Knockiel Memphis as a bull calf
The first bull sold out of the herd was Knockiel Ross at the Limousin Society sale in Athenry in April 2002. Bulls are sold at society sales in Roscrea and the Kilkenny interbreed sales but the majority of the bulls are sold at home to repeat customers.
The herd records a significant amount of information on all of their calves at birth. Birth size and calf vigour are recorded through the BDGP scheme but the herd also records birth weights for all calves. This birth information combined with the AI insemination dates that the herd records provide valuable information of the calving difficulty of sires and the gestation length of the females and bulls. This level of recording helps to improve the reliability of the herds indexes.
The herd has some exceptional figures, with the average replacement index of the cows being €101 and 5 star across breed. This trend continues into the Daughter milk figure, with the average for the cows close to 2kg above the breed average. These excellent maternal traits are not to the detriment of the cows terminal traits. The cows have an average carcass weight figure of 29kg which is almost 7kg above the limousin breed average and is 5 star across all breeds. This herd is striking a balance between maternal and terminal traits.
Knockiel Limousins have used a mixture of stockbulls and AI throughout the years. Some influential sires include a previous stockbull Castleview Duke and the Gene Ireland graduate Keltic Isaac (KAC) who have been very successful in both producing replacements and breeding bulls with a good mix between maternal and terminal traits. The herd has recently purchased a new herd sire Keltic Loyalprince from Teleri Thomas’ herd. This bull is 5 stars across the board for replacement and terminal indexes. Loyalprince boasts an outstanding terminal index of €174 and an equally outstanding replacement index of €129. AI is used in the autumn-calving herd with a lot of cows going back to Millbrook Tanko, Brookmill Vindicator, Grahams Unbeatable and Ramses. Current sires used in the herd include Kaprico Eravelle, Ampertaine Commander, Ronick Hawk, Plumtree Fantastic and On-Dit.
What attracted you to WHPR?
“I feel going forward it will give buyers more confidence that the breeding values for animals in WHPR herds are more accurate. We were recording a lot of data anyways especially weights and linear scores for young bulls. For the pedigree breeder any measure that will improve the marketability of their stock has to be embraced. The visit was fairly straightforward as I was used to having animals linear scored and weighed anyways. Hopefully the costs will reduce after the first visit.
It’s vital for buyers to have confidence in the information provided by pedigree breeders because otherwise we’re going nowhere as an industry. As a breeder, you need to be able to stand over the data you provide. The repeat buyer is the best buyer you can get. Sometimes the data will have a negative effect on the indexes of your stock and sometimes a positive effect but at least it’s clear and transparent.”
Knockiel Laszlo before sale
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