Farmer Focus: Jalex Herd


Catherina meets the Alexander family, who purchase; inseminate and sell top-quality commercial heifers are the upper end of the market.

Farmer Focus: Jalex Herd

  • ADDED
  • 2 years ago

Catherina meets the Alexander family, who purchase; inseminate and sell top-quality commercial heifers are the upper end of the market.

The prestigious internationally-recognised ‘Jalex’ prefix was established several decades ago by Nelson and James Alexander who live in the heart of Radalstown, Co. Antrim.

Situated in close proximity to Belfast, the father and son duo now count over 700 head of cattle; 650 ewes and over 400 dry gimmers, with James at the helm of the daily running, along with three full-time employees.

A Major Change

Due to time constraints, the family were forced to return back to the drawing board in 2014; they dispersed their 400-strong commercial cow herd in a bid to focus more on the sale of top-quality commercial heifers – a mixture of Simmental; Limousin and Belgian-Blue-crosses. Heifers are now purchased from highly renowned herds; inseminated to renowned sires. The majority of the cattle go under the hammer in-calf, while others are sold with their progeny at foot.

“We take very few heifers to the mart and sell all year round. We try to do as much private trading as possible; we have customers arriving every week to acquire suitable lots.” James Alexander told Catherina Cunnane of That’s Farming.

“Last year, the heifers went to Scotland; England; Wales and the South. A farmer in the South purchased fifty heifers and he is going to take another eighty. I supply all types of heifers to all clients regardless of quantity and I sell them for a sensible average price.” James stressed.

Pedigree Herd

Aside from the main cattle enterprise as outlined above, Nelson and James have a pedigree cattle herd to their name, which consists predominately of Limousin, while the team have also placed their faith in the Shorthorn; Belgian Blue; and Aberdeen-Angus breeds.

“We used to have a major involvement on the show circuit up until the dispersal sale, but we still show a number of pedigrees. I have four Limousins and one Shorthorn going to Balmoral Show next week. The plan is to attend as many shows as possible this year.” James explained, who also runs a tractor; machinery and 4x4 dealership.

Milestone Memory

With years of valuable experience under his belt, James regards 2013 as the pinnacle in his farming career to date– he purchased a number of stock-bulls in 2011-2012 which combined with his powerful cow families to produce exceptional offspring.

“The home-bred progeny remained unbeaten at every summer and winter show that we attended including eight summer shows and three winter shows.

Future Plans

Evaluating the future of his current farming system, James reveals that he is at a “crossroads” at present. Satisfied with his current heifer selling enterprise, acknowledging his dedicated list of suppliers and clients, a number of roadblocks exist which make the operation of a system of this nature challenging.

“The weather and TB outbreaks make this unsteady. There is always that fear that I will have a closed herd with 700 heifers. We are testing every four months and it is just a nightmare.”

“I have lost confidence in the measures that are being taken to tackle the problem with T.B. – the country is rotten with T.B and it is a major concern,” James explained.

“Looking at the overall future of the farm, I have five children – 4 girls and 1 boy, aged 2-8 and they enjoy getting involved. There is something extra special when the tradition can be carried on for another generation.” James concluded.

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

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