Oldrose Host National Holstein Friesian Open Day – 2018
Directions: On the N2 Ashbourne/Derry road, at Kilmoon cross take the Drogheda/Duleek road (R152) and follow directional signs Eircode: A42 HD27
Ancient Irish ancestry and folklore regales a storied historical bond between our ancestors and cattle. The greater North Eastern region and surrounding counties have a particular connection, such as the legend of the Táin Bo Cúailnge – an early indicator of our inherent connection with the land and the pride in having good stock.
All roads will lead to County Meath and the North Eastern Club area for the IHFA National Open Day, hosted by the Collins family, Ardcath, Co. Meath on July 4th. 200 cow pedigree registered herd averaging 10,000kgs with milk solids/cow of 772kgs. Herd Expansion and Development Leo junior returned home to farm in 2003 and works side by side with his father Leo senior. They are a formidable team, focused on producing high volumes of milk and milk solids with cow comfort, health and welfare a top priority. A new milking parlour was built with increased cubicle accommodation, slurry storage and the yard was streamlined to aid management of a larger herd. In 2013 Leo married Aisling and they built their home on the farm. They have two daughters – Saoirse and Eilish.
Herd Establishment Leo senior and wife Patricia established the dairy herd in 1976 and registered the Oldrose prefix. Leo and Patricia have four sons – James, Eoin, Leo and Brian who all played an integral part in the development of the herd. Leo vividly recalls the first milk cheque received from their creamery, Leinster Milk Producers, for £65!
Cow families are the backbone to the herd breeding through generation after generation. Friesian breeding dominated during the early era and Leo was careful to select and use the top bulls in AI in order to improve the quality and production of the herd. The switch to Holstein breeding was a decision taken quickly as Leo recognised that this new source of genetics would drive production further forward. Bulls such as Ullswater Royal Sovereign, Barold Rock Seal, Bellwood, Roylane Jordan, Bolton and Shottle were used to great effect. Grazed Grass Utilisation is a Key Driver of Herd Management The total area farmed is 352 acres with a milking platform of 162 acres. Cows are generally turned out to grass by mid-March, weather permitting. Better grassland management and utilization is delivering for the herd. Leo junior walks the farm every week to assess grass growth and covers. Reseeding of pastures is an integral part of management and they aim to reseed a portion of the farm on an annual basis.
Block Calving Vital in Labour Management The milking platform is also partially used to take first-cut silage so when this silage ground is closed the stocking rate increases to six cows/hectare! Buffer feeding of maize silage is introduced in the spring. Calving pattern is 50% autumn, 50% spring. Heifers calve-in aged two years and two months on average. The winter diet for the milking cows is a mix of grass silage, fodder beet and a dairy blend. Cows are topped up with a dairy nut in the parlour, in a feed-to-yield system. All the meal fed is sourced from local supplier McAuley’s Feeds, Balrath. How IHFA Services Affect Breeding Decisions and Developing Cow Families IHFA classification is a critical management tool in helping to realise performance. Classification and linear scoring data provides valuable information and benchmarks to inform breeding policy as to cow type best suited for the farming system. “We try to breed functional, high producing cows with conformation for longevity” says Leo junior. “Without sound feet and legs, quality in the udder, dairy strength and capacity the cows will not perform. Nothing beats the sight of a good heifer with a quality udder full of milk walking into the parlour to be milked. “Cows are culled, if necessary, on fertility and feet, in that order.”
Awards & Achievements An appetite for knowledge and continual improvement is shared by both Leo’s. Both are members of discussion groups. Leo senior is a member of the Royal Meath and Leo junior is involved in the Evergreen Group. The herd hosted the Teagasc National Winter/Liquid Milk Conference last year. The Collins family have been mainstays of the North Eastern Club since it was founded in the late 1970s and have hosted club events on the farm.
The herd has won regional Quality Milk Awards with Glanbia and competed successfully in the Premier Section of the North Eastern Club Herds Competition over the years.
Herd Profile Leagh McCutchen Princess ET was Champion Calf in the Club Calf Show and she went on to compete in the National Calf Show. She has calved-in with a promising heifer by Diamondback. Oldrose Addison Joan EX94 4E attained IHFA Diamond Cow status for 3,000kgs protein production and EX on conformation. Her Roylane Jordan daughter also attained IHFA Diamond Cow status. She bred many daughters including Oldrose Lew-Red Joan EX92 2E, EX94 for feet & legs. Now in her 5th lactation, she has produced in excess of 10,000kgs milk in four consecutive lactations. From the same family, Oldrose Bond Joan EX92 3E is one of the most senior cows in the herd now in her 8th lactation. She has produced over 10,000kgs in six consecutive lactations and is a very high fat producer with a lifetime production over 4,000kgs and 5.09%. Oldrose Bond Snowdrop EX92 2E is also in her 8th lactation with lifetime yield of 5.27% fat and 3.49% protein. The Nora family is very prominent as a home-bred family breeding very consistently over the years. Oldrose Tennyson Nora VG88 now in her 5th lactation has a lifetime yield to date of 58,206kgs milk, 5.06% fat and 3.49% protein.
Celebration Sale Featuring Top Cow Families A celebratory sale of 35 heifers from the top cow families in the herd will be held on the day. 11 springing heifers, 12 served heifers, 12 maiden heifers and heifer calves. The pick of the youngstock from such families as Susan, Nora, Joan, Hazel, Babs (home-bred) and Lulu, (Dalevalley), Torch, Fawn (Monamore), Polly (Windy-Knoll, Leagh) Beatrice (Galwaybay). Sale animals sired by top AI sires such as Mogul, Montross, Mardi Gras, Deman, McDougal, Kingboy, Rambo, MVP, Monterey and Diamondback. The quality and consistency of Oldrose breeding is such that repeat customers return to source breeding stock year after year. National Herds Competition Results The eagerly awaited results of the IHFA National Herds Competition will be announced as part of the programme of events at the Open Day. I wish to thank Mark Logan, Clandeboye, Northern Ireland, who travelled the country to assess the herds and Greenvale Animal Feeds who are sponsors. “It’s a fabulous honour to host the IHFA National Open Day.” says Leo senior. “We have benefitted so much from pedigree Holstein Friesian breeding over the years making numerous good friends and accessing a network of top quality stockmen along the way.
“All are warmly welcomed to attend on July 4th”. Directions: On the N2 Ashbourne/Derry road, at Kilmoon cross take the Drogheda/Duleek road (R152) and follow directional signs Eircode: A42 HD27