Enda Kearney – a former concrete cutting and drilling contractor - was forced to steer his career in an alternative direction when the recession hit in 2008.
He began working as an AI and scanning technician and later took the reins of the family farm from his father, Frank.
As part of his training, he worked with a veterinary practitioner conducting ET work and that is when he became interested in pedigree Angus cattle.
“My father had always kept a few commercial cows as a hobby, but I always had an interest in pedigree stock since my childhood.” the Kilfenora, Co. Clare native told Catherina Cunnane - That’s Farming.
Enda sought a cow that could calve unassisted, rear a quality calve and thrive on marginal land – Angus ticked all of those boxes for him and so the JADAM Angus herd was born in 2011.
These traits are paramount due to the nature of the Clare man’s work off-farm – working as an AI technician for Munster Bovine and offering scanning services in the Midwest region; his new freeze-branding service has also gained notable traction.
“A breeder – who is also an AI customer – that is not so far from me, had two weanling heifers to sell in spring 2011 and I bought these - they were Liss Mirt X Eisenhower X Priestown Jupiter,” he added.
A Rossiter Eric heifer from one of these cows was retained and named JADAM Nicole, while another female was purchased from the Dalriada herd in Limerick.
The first cow family that was introduced to the herd was the famous Ellen Erica line; others include Pamela, Rosebud, Blackbird, Pat Sandra, Miss Essence and Winnie.
“As my limited knowledge and great interest grew, I began to see that cow families are one of the most important aspects of pedigree breeding.”
Over the years, heifers were purchased to increase numbers and the continental cattle – which were traditionally kept by his father – have been almost fully replaced by pedigree Angus breeding females.
“The herd has become quite young with the acquisition of heifers from the Blackfield herd over the past couple of years.” the pedigree breeder explained.
Rawburn Lady Sandra - a maternal sister the renowned Youngdale Touchdown – recently joined JADAM Angus.
The herd – which comprises of twelve breeding female – uses 100% AI and has grown from strength to strength since its foundation.
Enda’s wife Pauline, children; Nicole, Jenny and Adam and his parents Frank and Eileen all play a role in the running of the farm.
Sires utilised to date include Mogeely Joe, Tubridmore Gizmo, Netherton Americano, Friarstown Ideal Pete, Mr Brazilian, Rawburn Ettrick-Jagger Eric, Minnesota Prime, Dan Carter and HF REBEL.
“I have been ruthless on culling for docility, fertility and milk issues over the years.”
“I look for structurally sound, fertile females with good heads and legs, maternal traits and an excellent temperament,” he stressed.
Heifers have been either retained for breeding purposes or sold for export over the years. “I hope to keep daughters from the cow families and possibly have some top-end females to sell in the coming years.”
Bulls have been sold at Kilmallock bull sales or privately from the farm. “I believe that a functional, well-grown bull that’s balanced in every way is what the customer is looking for.”
“I’m not a believer in going down the 1% calving route as I believe this will ruin the breed as it will be known for breeding black Jerseys.”
“That said there is no need to compromise on this for hard calving and I believe between 2 and 3% is the sweet spot and will reap dividends in the long term,” he added.
All cows calve in the Autumn as Enda is of the opinion that this provides customers with a capable breeding bull that can be introduced to a breeding programme when they reach 18-months of age.
Enda’s future plans include acquiring additional land and developing his cow families with the help of top-class AI bulls.
In time, he hopes to get more involved in the Irish Aberdeen Angus Society and would like to return to the show ring.
Passing on the traditions and knowledge about farming to the next generation in these challenging times is something that is a “great privilege” for the Clare man. “My son has a keen an interest in blacks and my daughters give great help too,” he said.
He is hopeful that the Kearneys will continue to breed Angus cattle into the future: “I am a passionate believer that Angus are the Rolls-Royce of all cattle breeds.”
“They are easy calving, make great docile mothers and produce an end product that the customer wants and needs,” he concluded.
JADAM Angus was a joint-winner in Angus Stars of the Future’s Facebook competition which was held in association with Kiernan Milling and That’s Farming.