Edward Roe is a thirty-year-old farmer from outside Roscrea who runs a 75-cow suckler farm in partnership with his father Leister.
Together, they keep eight pedigree Hereford cattle, of which the bulls are sold every year, while the heifers are kept for breeding. Edward also milks 230 cows, five days a week for his neighbour.
It was just last year that the Roes began AI'ing replacement heifers in the main herd to Aberdeen Angus and Hereford sires, as Edward completed a DIY AI course with Dúnmasc Genetics, which was sponsored by Skillnet through Macra Na Feirme.
The reason that Edward decided to do the course was to get the replacements from their own herd.
As it’s his first year doing DIY AI, Edward laughed: “I won’t be completely confident until scanning in September”.
The young farmer said that there had been year-round calving on their farm, but he would like to tighten this up to a 16-week calving period at first, then tighten further.
However, this will prove to be a long process as last year, he bought in-calve Simmental-cross-Friesian heifers; they had their Limousin-cross progeny at the end of April into the start of May.
The resulting progeny were high enough in the replacement index that Edward wanted to keep them as replacements. Unfortunately, this will result in late calving again next year.
“There’s an average of 200 cattle on the farm at any given time”, said Edward, who explained that they do all their own finishing. They plan to raise their suckler numbers to 100 by next year.
Edward had done dairying through Farm Relief Service (FRS) when he was younger because his father Leister already had an employee on the farm at that time.
Edward took employment in a local hotel, but it wasn’t for him. “I did meet my wife there, so it wasn’t all bad” grinned Edward who added, “being inside didn’t suit me”.
He then applied for an agricultural job in Canada, where he remained for three years. In fact, Edward could have chosen from offers in Australia, New Zealand, India and China, but Canada was the only one that operated as a beef farm.
“My job over there for the majority of the time during feedlot season was checking cattle and feeding them every day” explained Edward.
"That farm had 1,000 head of suckler cows that they calve down every year themselves and they had 10,000-acres of tillage, it wasn’t a small farm,” he joked.
It may have changed slightly since Edward was there three years ago and although he learned a lot, especially when it comes to training his eye for irregularities in the herd.
Many of their policies differ from those here in Ireland, and so a lot of practices wouldn’t transfer well.
Edward’s fiancée Marta followed him over to Canada and that is where they got married and had their first son. Such was the welcome that Edward received, one of his bosses was the best man at the wedding.
While the couple were happy in Canada, Edward’s grandmother sadly passed away while they were home on holiday, and they decided that they would rather be close to their relatives, although Marta has farther to go as she’s from Poland.
Since his return from Canada, Edward has taken on the strip-grazing system of grassland management and had started to cut bigger fields into paddocks and streamline the animals.
They now keep the finishing heifers in one paddock and keeps the yearlings in the next. They have been improving the drinking systems and there has been a noticeable improvement in the herd.
Every morning, Edward uses his neighbour’s newly installed 44-unit Wycatto rotary parlour to milk the 320 cows. He enjoys the milking; however, he explained that Leister used to milk cows when Edward was a child, up until 2002, but given the opportunity to go back into dairy, he wouldn’t take it.
“I don’t like the idea of being married to the parlour,” said the young father. He has two sons; the eldest, Anthony is four-years-old and Adam is just five months.
"With the kids being so small, it’s nice to just pick up in the evening and go off somewhere,” said Edward.
Little Anthony just loves his farming upbringing as he has been helping his dad bottle-feeding an Angus calf that was bought with Anthony in mind.
"I’m looking forward to the next few years, growing the herd a little bit - that’s the plan anyway,” Edward concluded.
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