Farmer Focus: Meet John Cahalane- A prize-winning Belgian Blue breeder & dairy farmer


Catherina speaks to John Cahalane, a breeder who has enjoyed immense success on the show circuit!

Farmer Focus: Meet John Cahalane- A prize-winning Belgian Blue breeder & dairy farmer

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Catherina speaks to John Cahalane, a breeder who has enjoyed immense success on the show circuit!

Forenaught Ice’s immense success on the show circuit has most certainly put John Cahalane’s Cork-based Belgian Blue herd on the map.

The Attribut Du Fond De Bois son has scooped his fair share of prestigious silverware around the country securing titles at Cork, Limerick and Dunmanway Agricultural shows, aswell as topping the County Cork Beef Beef Championship at a show in his home soil.

From the very start of his showing career, as both a calf and a Junior bull, Ice has most certainly caused quite a stir, leaving a very powerful mark behind him.

Castlehaven, Skibbereen, Co. Cork native John Cahalane has been farming Belgian Blue cattle for over two decades, an enterprise that became an addition to the dairy herd.

“The farm has been within the family for generations. It was my mother’s farm when I got it. My wife Tess and I now run the farm. She manages the milking.” John told Catherina of That's Farming.

Pushing Quality

John has his eyes fixed securely on focusing on quality as opposed to quantity, a major element of the breeding philosophy on his farm. His Belgian Blue enterprise has grown gradually, down through the years, with four pedigree females now dominating the pastures, alongside a number of Belgian Blue-Cross, Limousin-Cross and Charolais-Cross breeding females.

“We have always had a few Belgian Blue cows. We find them easy calving and we have tried many on the dairy herd. They are also very docile, have exceptional confirmation and we get a premium price for the calves. They are the perfect fit.” John said.

All pedigree heifers are retained for breeding purposes, while the bulls go the other side of the farm gate to become stockbulls on many suckler and dairy farms throughout the Republic and Northern Ireland. The pedigree front of the herd is predominately A.I. with a keen focus on sourcing the best quality genetics that are available.

Sourcing Genetics

John, a well-esteemed member of Irish Belgian Blue Cattle Society for many years, has also made efforts to source genetics from Belgium, the homeland of the breed in order to push his herd forward.

“I identified some top bulls in Belgium and semen was brought into Ireland. It was a great success, breeding some top-notch progeny including Ice.” John explained.

“ Ice’s brother won the county a number of years ago and their dam has just proven herself as a producer of show toppers. Ice continued winning and it’s hard to beat his show career. It has to be my highpoint, but we also have had success with fatstock.” John added.

“Shows are a fantastic way to meet like-minded indivudals. The social aspect is very powerful and they do make ideal family days out.” John said.

As the suckler enterprise continues to flourish, the dairy herd has clocked up a total of forty cows.

“ We use A.I for the Holstein-Friesians and then use an easy-calving Aberdeen Angus bull for mopping up.” John explained.

Future Plans

Satisfied with the current success of the herd, both on the dairy and the suckler beef front, John has many plans stirring in the pipeline.

“I want to maintain the herd going forward. While is there are no quotas on the milking side, we might increase his cow numbers. Belgian Blue cattle will be always to be found here in Castlehaven.” John concluded.

If you are a sheep or cattle breeder and want to share your story, get in touch.

Email Catherinacunnane@gmail.com

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