Herd Profile – Knowthfarm Herd of James and Patricia McGrane, Slane, Co. Meath
To follow on from our very enjoyable field evening last June we would like to thank our local North East Friesian Breeders Club for allowing us that honour and to IHFA for the opportunity to profile our herd in this article and the breeding and management system in operation here at Knowthfarm.
The herd was established in 1981 on a 50 acre farm purchased from a local retiring farmer. Immediately, we started purchasing high quality calved and in calf pedigree heifers from both Irish and European herds. From those early purchases the families that stood the test of time are the Diamonds, Alpentrip, Nells and the Jackelines.
Recently we have introduced the Ebonys, Lulus, Jills, Darlene, Shower, Barbie and Papoose.
Our objectives are to breed cows with good type and conformation and a strong will to milk.
Today the herd consists of 100 cows and 100 replacement heifers with 700kg of milk solids (milk recording) produced per cow at 3.36% protein and 3.90% fat and SCC of 70.
Over the last few years the sires we were most pleased with were Twist, Guarini, Massey, Norman, Toystory and Pesky. Presently we are using Supershot, Hangtime, Rager Red, Persius and MJP. Sexed semen is used heavily on the farm and has been over the past five years which explains the large number of replacements on hand. All maiden heifers are served with sexed semen and some quality young cows.
Conception rates are somewhat less than with conventional at about 55% but in my opinion the advantages far out-weigh the costs with most heifers calving on their own with a 90 to 100% chance of a female calf. The family I take most joy from at this time is the Red Alpentrips.
My first Alpentrip was a big in calf red heifer by an Enhancer son we bought in Germany in 1990 along with four other cows. I remember feeling quite nervous about buying her at the time as her price tag was significantly higher than that of her comrades but she proved a good investment as she classified excellent herself and has produced five more generations of high excellent red cows with great longevity and a strong will to milk.
The highest classified red cow in Ireland is Monamore Talents Allie Red EX95 5E and is a great grand daughter of the original Alpentrip. There are two more great grand daughters still milking here at Knowthfarm worthy of note – Knowthfarm Jet Trip Red EX93 3E, in her 6th lactation and Knowthfarm Lew trip EX94 4E, now in her 7th lactation. Both were part of the group of senior cows at the field evening and with 55,000 and 70,000kgs produced to date respectively.
While I have pen to paper I would like to encourage all young dairy farmers who have a desire to milk quality cows to join their local breeders club. From both an educational and social front the information you gain and friends you make are priceless. By partaking in club events like Herds Competitions, Calf Shows, Field Evenings, Silage Competitions, breeding seminars, and most importantly club trips, you are constantly learning in a fun and social way and the contacts and friends you make remain with you for life. Dairy farming at times can be challenging so you need a few little perks along the way.
The full piece on Breeder Profiles can be read