Farmer Focus: Going for gold with Charolais cattle in Co. Sligo!


Catherina speaks to Darragh McManus, Farm Manager of the prestigious Bostonia Charolais herd, based in Co. Sligo.

Farmer Focus: Going for gold with Charolais cattle in Co. Sligo!

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  • 1 year ago

Catherina speaks to Darragh McManus, Farm Manager of the prestigious Bostonia Charolais herd, based in Co. Sligo.

Scrumore, Enniscrone Co. Sligo is home to one of Ireland’s most prestigious herds of pedigree Charolais cattle.

Sitting on 250-acres, over thirty Charolais breeding females and one-hundred-and-twenty Commercial cows dominate the pastures of the Sligo-based farm. The ‘Bostonia’ prefix is one of the island’s most respected herds, with a powerful reputation brewing throughout the country.

The phenomenal success of the farm is down to one man in particular and his sheer passion and enthusiasm as one of the driving forces of the enterprise. Co. Fermanagh native Darragh McManus was appointed as the farm manager in May 2016 and now runs the show for the Feeney Brothers who are based on the other side of the globe in Boston.

Exceptional Cow families

The journey with pedigree Charolais cattle began in 2013, with quality genetics being the main name of the game which is reflected in their success in the sales ring and on the show circuit.

Darragh is quick to draw attention to the criteria for breeding females and the selective breeding policy that the herd advocates in order to produce quality cow families.

“Females must have softness, they must be correct, have some muscle definition, with good tops, sound legs and feet, a good head and a good set ears. Females must have style and be functional and of course, be feminine.”Darragh explained to Catherina of That’s Farming.

Donor Females

Some of the best-renowned bloodlines in the Charolais circles are to be found in this herd. Bostonia Joy – 2016 Christmas Cracker Female Champion, Gretna House Lord- a bull that was acquired for £25,000 in February 2017, Drumshane Mademoiselle – Junior Champion at Highland Show, Reserve Female Champion at the Yorkshire Show and she also secured various other breed championships throughout shows.

The herd also acquired Roughan Madilin, a Roughan Dix De Coe daughter for €14,500 at the first Elite Charolais Heifer show and sale, hosted in Tullamore Mart recently and this leading lady joined Bessibell Millie, the Junior Charolais Champion and Reserve Interbreed Junior Champion at Balmoral Show 2016 and Bessiebell Molloy.

“Our donor females are Joy, Millie, Molly, Mademoiselle and Madilin. They are on our ET programme, along with a few of our own cows also. We have forty embryos at the moment.” Darragh explained.

Bulls

To maximise and enhance the quality of the herd, the breeding programme ensures that the best available genetic pool is tapped into with AI bulls including Doonally New (CF52), Pirate, Goldstar Echo, Newhouse Bigal, Goldstar Hugo, Fury Action and Goldstone Egbert leading the charge.

“I have to like the bulls on the ground- the bull himself and his progeny, if I have seen any. The bull has to be sound and correct, have breed character and have softness.” Darragh said.

“I try to match a bull to correct some of the faults in the breeding females or highlight some of the good points in them. Bulls are not selected on the basis of €uro-stars, but if they have them it is a bonus.” Darragh added.

Milestones

As leaders in their field, the Bostonia herd has risen to the top at major events down through the year. The limelight shines on them, particularly at official Irish Charolais Cattle Society sales.

In 2014, their Reserve Senior Champion bull ( Bostonia Invincible) went under the hammer for €8,200 on the same sale day where their Junior Champion bull secured a notable €10,200. The herd also had the Female Champion at Christmas Cracker in 2017, the Reserve Senior Champion and Reserve Junior Champion.

“Niall and I are responsible for preparing the animals for the shows. It is a major part of our activities on the farm.” Darragh said.

The Future

Bostonia Charolais, making big waves will continue to put Sligo on the map with their multi-awarding winning Charolais cattle, pumped with quality genetics.

“We want to continue to produce cattle that are suitable for the market, but long-term the goal is to get our pedigree herd to twenty-five top-notch cows. The plan would be to get five of those cows doing all the embryo work.” Darragh said.

“We would like to get up to fifty embryos a year to try to breed from the very best lines to drive the herd further,” Darragh explained.

“While cattle are the predominant focus, we also have a number of store lambs in the winter time too. The sheep tidy up the land and we put in rape and stubble turnips for them. We run between 3000-3,500 Suffolk, Texel-Cross, and Charollais-cross well-bred lambs.” Darragh added.

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If you are a sheep/cattle breeder and you want to share your story, get in touch. Email catherinacunnane@gmail.com and you may just be featured on That’s Farming next week.

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