“Since day one, Shorthorn cattle have dominated our farm and to the present moment, we still breed Shorthorns only,” explained Róisín Keane (18) – a third-generation farmer.
The Bushypark herd – which is owned and managed by John Keane, his wife Mary, son Jonathan and daughter Róisín – comprises of 24 breeding females and one pedigree-registered stock bull (Blackvalley Flanker).
John has always been involved in farming and inherited the 83-acre farm – which is located in Ennis, Co. Clare - from his uncle in 1995; the pedigree Beef Shorthorn herd was registered with the society two years later.
“We live in Kilfenora which is 25 minutes’ away from the farm. My dad farms full-time and I farm part-time as I am going into Leaving Cert in September,” added Róisín.
Breeding females are served by Blackvalley Flanker or AI’d to sires such as Ballyart Lucky, Clonina Explorer and Sprys Exclusive; calving takes place between January and March.
“We installed calving cameras about 5 years ago. Before that, we had to make up to three trips down to the farm in the middle of the night and the cow mightn't be near calving.”
“Now all we have to do is look at the camera; we never had any difficulties with calving.”
The Clare natives strive to breed quality progeny with a nice head, good bone, conformation and structural soundness.“Our ideal cow is medium-sized, weighing 750kgs with soft fleece, a good bone and straight legs.”
They retain up to 20% of females as replacements, while the remaining heifers are sold to new and established breeders. To introduce new bloodlines to the Bushypark herd, selective purchases in the form of yearling heifers are made at society sales across the country.
“Some of our bulls are also sold for breeding purposes; we do not slaughter any animals.”
“Shorthorns are very easy to work with; they are also good mothers and are very quiet making them a perfect fit for our farm.” added the young cattle breeder.
The Keanes made their debut on the show circuit in 2007; their yearling heifer made her mark at a local show before winning the All-Ireland class in Limerick.
In 2015, Bushypark Cherry 2nd won her heifer calf class in Limerick before progressing to Strokestown where she secured the All-Ireland heifer calf silverware.
The following year, she made her presence felt at numerous shows including Tullamore where she was the overall Beef Shorthorn champion. She then ventured to Limerick Show where she was tapped forward as the All-Ireland yearling champion.
Not stopping in her tracks, Bushypark Cherry 2nd was awarded the RDS Irish Shorthorn Champion Award and was placed first in a new multi-breed €uro-star high-replacement index class at Limerick Show in 2016.
“The icing on the cake for us came in December when she was awarded bronze in the online Beef Shorthorn world competition in the miss euro section.”
In 2016, Bushypark Tiger won the intermediate bull calf category and over-all Beef Shorthorn title at the show in Strokestown; he was sold to a breeder across the waters in Scotland later that year.
In 2017, Bushypark Beauty 9th went on to win numerous shows around the country and was then tapped out as the 2017 All-Ireland yearling heifer at Limerick Show.
“We also brought cattle to the National Ploughing Championships before. I entered the young handler competition in Limerick when I was younger.”
“The show circuit is a great way to meet new people and to showcase our good quality cattle.”
“It is a tough job trying to train cattle for shows - it is very time-consuming!” Róisín added.
Looking ahead, the Keane family hope to their long-standing tradition - breeding top quality Beef Shorthorn cattle under the Bushypark prefix.
“I can see myself breeding good quality Shorthorns into the future as I have a great interest in farming.
“I hope to expand our farm in the future and increase the number of cattle on the farm,” Róisín concluded.
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