A group of highly enthusiastic cattle breeders gathered for the Irish Aubrac Society open day, held on the property of Mr. Kevin O’Brien, who farms under the ‘Turloughmore’ prefix in Athenry, Co. Galway on Thursday evening 14th July last.
The Turloughmore Aubrac herd comprises of Pedigree and Commercial Aubracs.
Having little or no prior knowledge of the breed, Kevin established his herd back in 2011, with an initial six yearling pedigree Aubrac heifers, arriving to the lands of Turloughmore, in April of that year. The main attraction to the breed for him was their renowned ease of calving.
A further number of heifers were then purchased, after the visitation to a farm with freshly calved sucklers, along with close observation of young beef bulls. Kevin was ‘very impressed’ by the performance of the yearling bulls.
Prior to the establishment of his Aubrac herd, Kevin was a successful pedigree Belgian Blue breeder for seventeen years, with a herd comprising of highly renowned cattle, with calves always sought from the farm by top exporters. Numerous rosettes were scooped for the weanlings at show and sales, however Kevin explained that ‘while good prices were fetched, all the calves didn’t always reach the mart, as there were losses.’
‘My breeding plan was entirely different back then to what it became. My initial plan was to use those first heifers as recipients for carrying Belgian Blue embryos but thankfully after receiving some good advice from the breeder ,I purchased the heifers from, I decided to breed all heifers with Aubrac AI straws.’Of the six calves born, five of them went on to be sold at the Annual Irish Aubrac Society Sale, which was held at Tullamore Mart in October 2013.
‘The bull used on the heifers was called ‘Despagnou (DPZ)’. The heifers were inseminated in December 2011 and January 2012. Our first purebred Aubrac calf was born in September 2012, ‘Turloughmore Harry’.
‘All six heifers calved unassisted. From the calving day on, I could see the great suckler traits the Aubracs possess. The dams had great mothering ability with plenty of milk, the calves were born small and hardy with the ability to get up and suck within minutes after birth.’ Kevin explained.
One of the calves died from pneumonia, as a result of off-farm commitments.
However this may have been quite a knock back at the time, but the herd’s luck changed, as Kevin went on the scoop first prize for one of his heifers at the sale and took second prize for one of his home-bred stock ‘Turloughmore Harry’, who went on to sell for an impressive €3,000 on the day of the sale.
I was very happy with the Aubracs then and ever since then I have increased Aubrac cow numbers in my herd at every chance I get.’ He added.
‘The following comparative I have found between my suckler herd now and my suckler herd 10 years ago; all cows now calved unassisted, I have no caesarean sections in the past 15 months ( the last c-section was carried out on a purebred Belgian Blue heifer). I sold the remainder of my purebred Belgian Blue herd into the UK last August. I have lost no calf at calving with over 2 years (never lost an Aubrac calf at calving). My only losses to date in my Aubrac herd have been 2 calves, one with pneumonia, as mentioned above and one with a twisted gut in August 2014. I now finish my weanling bulls to beef, Aubrac finish easily under 16 months and I sell the better bulls for breeding. To date I have sold my heifers as weanlings until last year I kept on my heifers for breeding this year.’Here are a number of kill-out results presented at the Open Day: (Click on the Image to open the gallery)
‘I wish I had stumbled on the Aubrac breed years earlier, the vet bill is much smaller, less losses and the Aubrac cow lives on less forage.’ Kevin said.
He continued ‘In my mind a suckler cow needs to be able to produce 1 calf per year unassisted, have enough milk to rear the calf without the use of concentrates and produce a saleable animal. I wish I had stumbled on the Aubrac breed years earlier, the vet bill is much smaller, less losses, the Aubrac cow lives on less forage. A suckler farmer with 30 cows could easily carry 40 Aubrac cows on the same amount of land.’
The day drew to close, with all attendees enjoying what is said to be an ‘enjoyable and informative’ evening.
Irish Aubrac Society Raffle:
This year, Irish Aubrac Society will once again raffle a Pedigree Registered Aubrac heifer at the inaugural National Ploughing Championship, following on from last year’s success.
Read more here
ICBF G€N€ Ireland Programme
Calverstown Koala is the latest Aubrac bull selected by ICBF for the ICBF G€N€ Ireland Programme, following on from the recent success of Ballinclea Iveco and Slaneymill Jack 687.
Koala is a 5 star bull for both Maternal and Terminal indexes, with a rating of €163 on replacement index and an estimated calving difficulty of 3.3%. He is from the herd of Calverstown Aubracs which was established 20 years ago, with the current objective to strive to constantly up-grade the standard of stock produced.
He is the sixth calf of his dam ‘Calverstown Bodalla’, who is a described as being a‘consistent breeder’ by her owners, with a calving internal of 359 days and no assisted calving. Koala’s sire ‘Four Candles’ was purchased in France out of the highly rated Boubal herd and is from the herd’s best performing bloodline.
Four Candles has sired over 200 calves, with very little calving difficulty. His he produced daughters of excellent maternal quality, while on the other hand his progeny that have been slaughtered have performed extremely, well with a total 90% of bullocks U grade.
The best of his sons have been sold on to both suckler and dairy herds as stock bulls.
Straws now available to purchase through ICBF/ G€N€ Ireland, for both Pedigree and Commercial use.
Call: 023 8820222 or 045 521 573
Straws €5, with a minimum of 5 straws per order.
Brief History of Aubrac Breed:
Aubracs were initially imported in Ireland back in 1992 to Skibbereen, from U.K as embryos- one heifer and two bulls. This followed on to the next shipment of in-calf and maiden heifers from France to Co. Kildare in 1996. The continued interest resulted in the establishment of the Irish Aubrac Society in 1998 , with an approximate count of 120 members, with membership increasing on an annual basis.
The Irish Aubrac Society intends to host a number of Farm walks this Summer, along with exhibitions at a number of Agricultural Shows planned including Tullamore, Tullow, Tinahely and The Society will host their Annual Show and Sale at Tullamore Mart in October also.
See www.aubrac.ie for further information.
Other That’s Farming Coverage:
- ‘Aubrac cows have everything a farmer could wish for!’- James Ryan’s Open Day
- Is this Ireland’s oldest Aubrac cow?
- Aubrac Breeders pursue new breeding policy
- Top 20 Replacement Index Aubrac cows
- 15 Things You Should Know About Aubrac Cattle
- Exclusive interview with the Glories Family-Breeders of Aubrac Cattle in France
- Using Aubrac on a Dairy Herd
- A butcher shop with a difference- EWS Donegal