Breeding “Hardy Docile Maternal Cattle” in Co. Wicklow

Lionel Mackey and his father Ernest Mackey run a herd of pedigree Aubracs in Donard, Co. Wicklow. The herd consists of around 30 cows and calves and operates under the pedigree prefix ‘Balinclea’.

The foundation females were bought in 1999 from herds in France with notable additions including Merveille by Gaillard, Altamount Nipon and Niconda both by Calverstown Jock. Influential sires include Galaxi bought from an elite sale in France, who bred many successful daughters for Ballinclea Aubracs. Another influential bull was Dreylands Fred.

The cows boast an average Replacement Index of €158, while replacement heifers have an average of €161. Both figures place these females in the top 1% across all breeds for Replacement Index. The high figures are in part due to the milk and fertility that is throughout the herd.

The average milk sub-index is 6kg which is in the top 10% for the Aubrac breed and top 20% across all breeds. The daughter calving interval averages -2.9 days which is again in the top 20% across all breeds. What makes this more impressive is the Carcass Weight figure is also in the top 20% for the Aubrac breed and across All Breeds, with an average of 22kg for the females making up the Ballinclea herd.

These figures translate to excellent phenotypic performance. The average calving interval for the herd is in the top 20% for all herds at 371 days and is also in the top 20% for calves per cow per year.

Ballinclea Aubracs participate in the WHPR (Whole Herd Performance Recording programme). WHPR is the ICBF on-farm program for recording weights and traits on pedigree animals. It involves the weighing of all pedigree animals in a herd (except heavy in calf cows), once a year. Animals are also linear scored for a variety of important traits.

This data is then used in the calculation of their €uro-Stars which will improve the reliability of the Eurostar indexes. On top of this Lionel also records birth weights, birth size and birth vigour on all his calves meaning that bulls sold from the herd will have a more reliable Calving difficulty figure.

Lionel says he was attracted to WHPR because

“It means accurate recording and increases buyer confidence. The visit also went very smoothly. We aim to breed hardy docile maternal cattle with top class milking ability, using lines from the original Batifol herd in France and the bulls Obleix and Harpon. It’s great for customers to see the proof of this in the actual figures and have total confidence with the whole process.”

“Highlights for the herd include Ballinclea Iveco, VEZ, being selected into Tully in 2015 for the Gene Ireland Maternal Bull breeding programme. He was the very first Pedigree Aubrac bull to be selected for the programme in Ireland. His mother “Ballinclea Baette” was awarded Champion of Champions by the RDS in January 2015, for the ICBF maternal indexes.”

Part of being in WHPR means that the participating herds have their bulls advertised for sale on the Stockbull Finder. This is an online sales section for bulls from WHPR herds. There are currently four Ballinclea Aubrac bulls on the application and all are 5 stars across breed on the Replacement index and have a genomic evaluation meaning they are all eligible for the BDGP scheme.

Calverstown Koala – AU2365

The Ballinclea herd are now selling their stock bull Calverstown Koala AU2365 who was previously and AI bull in the Gene Ireland programme. He has increased in Replacement and Terminal index since being originally genotyped for the programme. His current indexes stand at €153 – 5 star on Replacement index with a reliability of 60% and €148 – 5 star on terminal index with a reliability of 76%. AU2365 also has a calving difficulty of 4.5%. If interested contact Lionel on 0879970988.

Progeny from Calverstown Koala AU2365 can be seen below. These are some of the bulls advertised on the Stockbull Finder;

Progeny from Calverstown Koala AU2365
Progeny from Calverstown Koala AU2365

For herds participating in WHPR, Calverstown Koala semen is now available for re-release having met the reliability requirements for replacement index. If interested in straws please contact 045 521 573 or email query@icbf.com.

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