Milk and fertility driving Replacement index for Beef Shorthorn herd in Co. Cork

Richard and Anne Lee run the Knockagarry Beef Shorthorn herd near Mitchelstown, Co. Cork. The herd runs 35 pedigree cows, with the majority of these females being polled. It was founded in 1983 with the purchase of 3 heifers from the dual purpose Ballinagarrane herd, owned by the Watson family near Clonmel. Further purchases were made from the Nohoval herd owned by the late Art O’Connor.

Knockagarry Belle 32nd pictured with her calf Knockagarry Ace 869

The Knockagarry herd has used a mixture of stockbulls and AI throughout the years. Some bulls which have had a major influence include; Carrowhubbock Jasper, Glounlea Woodman, Maxton Mossybank and Wreay Roseman. More recent influential sires include; Deerpark Improver 34th, Eionmor Ideal 50p, Ingleton C111 and Sprys Patents Ace.

Some of the Knockgarry Shorthorn herd at grass

In 2016 the herd joined the Organic Scheme. Since joining, no grain or concentrates have been fed. This has brought about an extra focus on maternal traits and identifying lines within the breed best suited to a forage-grass based system. This focus can be seen in the herds excellent replacement figures. While the beef Shorthorn breed is a very maternal breed anyway, the Knockagarry herd has an average replacement index of €141 for its breeding females. This places the herd well within the top 20% within and across all breeds. A large part of this can be attributed to the daughter milk figure of the breeding females, which stands at an average of 10.6kg. This is almost 2kg above the beef Shorthorn average. The average daughter calving interval figure for the herd is -3.1 days, which is again well above the breed average. This trend continues into the cows’ terminal traits, with an average carcass weight index of 6.2kg which is almost 4kg above the Shorthorn breed average and is in the top 20% within the breed.

Ballyart Legacy ET

These outstanding indexes are not without merit. The herd has been performance recording since 2008 and this has helped improve the reliability figures and aid in selection. The herd records birth weights, 150 days, weaning and mature cow weight. Interpreting these figures makes it easy to identify those cows rearing the best calves year on year. The calves have full access to the cows for 10 months and calving commences two months later which is currently in May. Richard says, “We select hard on docility, udders, calving interval and gestation length. The current stock bull, Ballyart Legacy, has an average gestation of 280 days. This can be worked out because of the extensive recording on insemination and natural service dates. Most of the Knockgarry herd is now genotyped through the BDGP scheme”.

Knockagarry Winsonia 739 with her calf Knockagarry Improver 868

What attracted you to the WHPR program?

“Joining the WHPR was an easy choice for us as the herd is an open book with regards to recording and so this was the logical next step. The visit took half a day and was easily arranged with Robert Walsh (the linear scorer in our area) at a time that suited us. Most sales are made privately on farm. The main customer is commercial farmers requiring a functional cow of moderate size with good maternal traits. WHPR provided another place to advertise high Replacement Index bulls through the Stockbull Finder, which will help our on farm sales. There are currently 12 bulls for sale which have an average replacement index of €136 and an average calving difficulty of 3.5%”.

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