Gorey, Co. Wexford’s John Murphy may not have grown up on a farm, but he is most certainly breeding cattle with a difference.
John decided to venture into new waters, by tapping into Poll Herefords, a breed that is continuing to get to grips on Irish soil. The start of a new era of cattle breeding started in 2012, with the first foundational female Sollpoll One Starlet h2 sourced from one of Northern Ireland’s most well-known herds, managed under the ‘Solpoll’ prefix.
Poll Hereford- “The way forward”
John was quick to identify many desirable traits that the breed is renowned for including docility, ease of management, high fertility, ease of calving and good maternal qualities.
Thirty Polled Herefords are now managed under the ‘Kiltennel’ prefix, with a strong emphasis placed on breeding quality stock. Earlier this year, the herd sold on the commercial breeding females, to allow John to completely turn his attention to a full pedigree enterprise.
“In my opinion, the horned Herefords are going to get left behind, because the rest of the world is focusing on polled genetics. The polled figures are ahead of the horned figures, maybe not in Ireland but around the world. They are the way forward.” John said.
The enterprise has continued to snowball since its establishment, with the incorporation of an embryo transfer programme introduced in order to push the number of breeding females.
“One cow is usually flushed every year and in that way, a quality herd can flourish. It’s working well for us.” John told Catherina of That’s Farming.
100% A.I. utilisation is a core aspect of the farm’s breeding philosophy, with genetics sourced from Australia and Northern Ireland. Bulls that are bred on the Gorey-based farm go on to become stockbulls in many farms right around the country.
The herd has a high health status, with, with all heifers retained for further breeding purposes, when strict emphasis placed on this particular measure.
“Biosecurity is important.I don’t buy or sell any cattle in the mart.On the breeding front that is why I operate a closed herd.” John explained.
Mr Murphy has also entered into the second tranche of the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) and is satisfied with the ratings of his breeding females, but believes there is scope for improvement.
“The U.K. figures of the cow are very high, but when you import the animals into Ireland, the figures drop. The €uro-star ratings are quite low because the animals are imported.” Murphy said.
A busy 2017
With other work commitments, John is tied when it comes to the attendance of a large number of shows, but this most certainly didn’t stop him from scooping the All-Ireland Hereford Champion title with a heifer ‘Kiltennel Poll Amy’ in 2015 at Tullamore Show.
“It’s a very prestigious title to earn and breeders take home the silverware with great pride. It was a fantastic experience for us in the show-ring." John added.
2017 has proven to be a hive of activity for the new cattle breeder and earlier this year, John also played host to an open day in conjunction with the South Leinster Hereford branch.
“It was very successful with a series of discussions on topics including grassland management and workshops on show preparation. It was well attended.” John said.
A very bright future is in store for Kiltennel Poll Herefords. John has his eyes securely fixed on developing an enterprise that sources and uses the best quality genetics possible.
“Going forward, I want to increase the €uro-star ratings of the cows. I won’t be increasing the number of cows, but I want to maintain and improve the quality of the breeding females.” John concluded.
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