Ever since Skibbereen, Co. Cork man James Casey started farming 20-years-ago, it was always his mission to branch into rare cattle breeds.
Mr. Casey did just that by converting his long-standing pedigree Aberdeen Angus herd to Droimeann, a move he most certainly does not regret taking one decade later.
As an old traditional breed, the renowned traits including ease of calving, high fertility, their ability to forage on poor quality pastures and docility grabbed the attention of the fifth generation farmer.
The first foundational females of the herd were purchased in 2007, establishing the ‘‘Cnocnaratha’’ prefix.
Two heifers and one bull hailing from Co. Kerry became the main purchases, along with sourcing an additional two cows for free from a generous neighbouring farmer that had been specialising in the breed for years.
His donation helped James’ farm to get to grips and stemmed out of his interest in to continue the revival of the breed.
‘‘At the time, they weren’t officially recognised by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and that is mainly what inspired my interest in the breed. Gradually I moved over to a Droimeann herd, either pedigree or part of our grading-up scheme.’’ James told That’s Farming.
The farm steeped in history within the family, now sits on 27 acres.
Sixteen breeding females now dominate the pastures along with the farm’s stockbull, as the herd continues to snowball.
A strict breeding policy utilising the best available genetics combined with a grading-up programme has allowed emphasise to be placed on developing a flourishing quality herd.
A spring-calving heifer is managed, with all heifers calving down at 24-months of age.
‘‘As I am breeding up, the herd is getting purer and purer, so that means I can keep the pure heifers myself for replacement purposes. The cows are sold and their daughters are kept in order to retain the bloodline in the herd.’’ James explained.
Like every suckler farmer in the country, Mr. Casey has his eyes secured fixed on reaching the 365-day calving interval target.
‘‘My herd average now sits at 380 days. The purposed objective is realistically achievable through good management combined with the high fertility of the breed’’. James explained.
With involvement in the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), the herd’s home-bred leading lady a two-year-old cow-heifer that calved down in March of this year, boasts a replacement value of €140.
Satisfied with the current rankings of the breed, this is yet another key area of focus for the Droimeann breeder over the next while.
Since the official establishment of Irish Droimeann Cattle Society back in September of the 2016 calendar, James is now one of the main leading breeders.
He now sits as the Treasurer and Liaison Officer for Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Teagasc, ICBF and Weatherbys.
The current shoes that Mr. Casey fills as the Liaison Officer means that he is in charge of the Breed Development Programme on the farms of the twenty- five official society members and close to an additional ten associate members.
‘‘I review the calves born in every herd. Samples and results come back from I.C.B.F. and Weatherbys which allows us to conduct suitable bull selections. With a small number of cattle, we have to ensure inbreeding does not occur. We are openly looking for sponsorship ’’ James said.
With the society now only in its infancy, James revealed that many plans are stirring in the pipeline.
With a small number of cattle now on Irish soil, gaining certification for beef and their distinctive hides in order to tap into a niche markets, has been identified as the way forward by the Society.
The herd is now destined to become fully pedigree, something that James hopes to achieve over the next number of years.
‘‘We want to get people interested in the breed and more aware of their abilities. A lot of people aren’t fully aware of what rare breeds are there. We had displays Limerick Show and Rare and Traditional Breeds Mount Briscoe Show, so further interest is starting to develop. ’’ James concluded.
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