From humble beginnings, Coolermoney Aberdeen-Angus has become one of the best-known pedigree herds on the show circuit.
Adrian Parke was introduced to the breed by Robbie Donnelly of the Ardkill herd; the Strabane, County Tyrone native was farming a herd of pedigree Charolais cattle on a part-time basis at the time.
In 1994, he acquired Rosita 4th of Gilkey – sired by Masterpiece of Gilkey and out of Woodview Rosita 4th – who laid the foundations for the herd.
“I didn’t know anything about Aberdeen Angus cattle at the time but Rosita 4th of Gilke turned out to be an incredibly shrewd investment, having a strong influence on our herd,” he explained.
The majority of the herd’s eight breeding females all trace back to the foundation female which was purchased privately from the late Gilbert Craig in Claudy.
The breed is a “perfect fit” for the 13-acre farm which is located 450 feet above sea level. “Aberdeen Angus are ideally suited to the heavy farmland especially as the area is prone to high levels of rainfall.”
“The Aberdeen Angus cows and heifers are easily managed on a low-input system.”
Adrian and Graeme – his son - aim to breed uniform cattle, combining the attributes of the modern and traditional Aberdeen Angus and place a strong emphasis on breed character; they favour animals with a nice head, strong bone and good conformation.
“They have a nice temperament and are lovely to work with. The females are easy calved, have plenty of milk and a good mothering ability; they are mostly spring-calving.”
They have recently purchased a female each from Mogeely, The Moss and the Netherton Frances line.
The majority of their breeding females are AI’d to various sires including Netherton Figo, Rawburn Black Hawk, Rawburn Jagger Eric, Haymount Warsmith and Hallington Edition.
Surplus breeding females and bulls are sold privately or at society shows and sales to new and established breeders. “To date, 100% of the females have all went to pedigree herds and 45% of the bulls have gone for pedigree use.”
“We have also exported stock to England and Scotland and have sold animals to herds in the South of Ireland.” the duo explained.
[Image: Edward Dudley]
Agricultural shows provide a show window for the Parke’s cattle; the management and preparation of the show team at Coolermoney is very much at the forefront for the entire family as Aaron and Gemma are also valuable members of the team.
“We have made numerous new friends from all the breeds and have had a lot of success over the years at the shows as well as sales.”
“During the summer months, there is an agricultural show almost every Saturday as well as a couple mid-week.”
“We travel the length and breadth of the country to exhibit our stock. It’s an enjoyable day out with a bit of friendly competition among fellow breeders.” the father-and-son team added.
Making their mark on the show circuit in 2010, they have exhibited entries at Beef Expo in Carlisle and Stars of the Future in Stirling where they had the Reserve Overall Champion in 2014.
The family have claimed the best exhibitor yearling bull title throughout summer shows in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2018.
Coolermoney Aberdeen-Angus was crowned the winner of the small herds' competition in 2016 and had the Ulster Provincial Champion in 2016 and 2018, respectively.
Other honours include best pair of calves at the annual calf show in 2009, 2011 and 2018; and the reserve junior champion at Balmoral in 2014 and 2016.
Balmoral 2018 is one of their most successful years on record as they secured the pairs champion, exhibitor-bed champion, junior champion, male champion, opposite sex to champion and reserve overall champion silverware.
"In addition to these titles, we have had numerous summer show champions and reserve champions along with a few calf show champions."
The small herd with a big reputation will continue to put Strabane on the map; "We have been breeding Angus for 25 successful years and hope to continue this into the future," they concluded.
The Coolermoney Herd was a joint-winner in Angus Stars of the Future’s Facebook competition which was held in association with Kiernan Milling and That’s Farming.
Speaking following the public vote, Colin Duffy said: “I thought running the competition would give breeders an insight into other herds and help get them together from across the country and further afield.”
“This would not have been made possible without the support of Mark Kiernan from Kiernan Milling and That’s Farming who came on board to provide what was needed to encourage participants,” he concluded.
[Image: MacGregor Photography]