Glenn Carter and family – his wife Vivienne and children Steven, Louise, Ben, Sam and Daniel – run Ransboro Dairy Shorthorns.
The Carter’s acquired their first Shorthorn in England in 1982 and milked approximately thirty-five Shorthorns on a farm in Sligo – which was purchased by Eddie (Glenn’s father) - until 2003.
They moved to their current holding in Clonakenny, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary that very year, due to a limited availability of land around their home which prevented any expansion of their dairy enterprise.
The Carters currently calve up to eighty cows each Spring and milk around sixty-five cows, with up to fifteen cows offered for sale once they calve down.
Their herd – which has a split calving system – 80% of cows calve in the spring and 20% in the autumn – has a current average of 7084kg milk, 3.80% Butterfat and 3.48% Protein (including 12-18 heifers).
Ransboro Dairy Shorthorns comprises of a number of foundation female families including Primrose, Blossom and Queen Maeve; Ransboro Primrose 107th was registered earlier this year.
They purchased a number of cows down through the years from herds in England and in Ireland including Ballingarrane and Carrowhubbock; they also secured stock at the Rodway and Winbrook dispersal sales.
Overall, the Carters are satisfied with the performance of their chosen breed: “Shorthorns have very good fertility and they also outlast their black and white counterparts.”
“Initially when we moved to Clonakenny, we bought twelve black and whites, but for a variety of reasons they didn’t last in the herd,” Wes explained.
They believe that a Shorthorn’s longevity combined with their excellent milk production makes them a “great breed” to work with.
“As there is not a huge database of Shorthorns in Ireland, the EBI system does not reflect fairly at all.” “There has been a willingness by Teagasc to promote Jersey, Scandinavian Reds, Rotbunts and MRIs but very little down for Shorthorn which is quite frustrating.” He added.
Despite this, Wes said that they are finding that more farmers are introducing Shorthorns to their dairy herds.
Shorthorn genetics are sourced worldwide from Australia, Canada, America and the UK; an emphasis is placed on good conformation combined with good butterfat and protein solids when selecting sires for the Tipperary herd.
“In recent years, we have found the Australian bulls in particular to produce excellent replacements.” Ben Carter – a secondary school teacher – told That’s Farming.
“The solids they produce in Ireland are far superior to those that they produce in Australia and this is probably down to the quality of land and system in place.”
The Carters have also sold two bulls to Irish AI Station - Ransboro Jigsaw (ET) is available in Progressive Genetics and Ransboro Chisum forms part of Eurogene AI Services’ 2019 bull panel.
[Image source: Maria Kell]
The herd held a sale in April 2017 in Nenagh Mart and hope to stage another this April, although they maintain that interest has been “very strong” over the winter, with a number of replacements sold to breeders.
Up to six bulls out of the herd’s best-performing cows are registered with the Irish Shorthorn Society - Dairy annually with a view to selling these for breeding purposes. “If we are keeping a bull the dam must also be classified either VG or EX.”
“All females are initially kept but some are sold each year depending on interest. All bull calves not kept for breeding purposes are sold at birth.” Ben added.
Shows and Social Media
The Tipperary-based farmers have exhibited at shows throughout the country for over twenty years. Some of the main shows they attend include Tullamore, Cork and Limerick; they claimed the champion silverware on numerous occasions in the past.
Along with having a presence on the show circuit, they also utilise social media – Facebook and Instagram - to raise the herd’s profile. “Social Media gets news out there and is an excellent promotional tool for selling stock.”
“We have had another of direct sales as a result of our social media presence; this has definitely increased in recent years, probably as a result of more young farmers entering the sector.”
Looking forward, their main objective is to continue with the same numbers with a major focus on quality over quantity.
“There are uncertain times in the dairy industry at the moment so we aim to put a bigger focus on the quality of our animals and what they are producing over any rapid expansion.”
“We have worked with Dairy Shorthorns since 1982 their ease of management and docile temperament makes them a pleasure to work with.”
“The Shorthorn breed continues to go from strength-to-strength in Ireland and we aim to continue to promote their undeniable qualities” Wes concluded.
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