Ballinahown, Athlone, Co. Westmeath is home to very prestigious Blonde d'Aquitaine and Charolais cattle herds.
John Barry Moran is the one-man show behind the operation, which is up and running since 1991.
Initially his herd was predominately Charolais based, but keeping ahead of the curve, Mr. Moran soon got to grips with another new cattle breeding devotion; Blonde d'Aquitaine.
Full of pockets of enthusiasm, from purchasing his first pedigree Blonde d'Aquitaine breeding female in 1995 and joining the society in a sole year, John’s herd has continued to snowball.
‘I liked the look of the Blonde d'Aquitaine breed and their performance was proof of the pudding. I purchased a number of foundational animals from Jim Miller, a breeder in Kilbeggan. The rest is now history.’ John Barry told That’s Farming.
The full-time farmer, now second-generation, has ownership of one hundred acres, with an additional one-hundred and fifty acres leased.
Ten pedigree breeding Blonde d'Aquitaine females are now managed under the ‘Broccagh’ prefix.
They are farmed closely alongside an additional ten Charolais pedigree breeding females, under the ‘Brocca’ name.
In order to get the suckler herd to the admirable position that it now finds itself in, John Barry felt the need to place emphasis on a strictly driven breeding programme incorporating selective breeding, in conjunction with Embryo Transfer.
Identifying it as a rather ‘risky venture’, John did not have to think twice about flushing the best female the herd had to its name.
One of the most impressive Blonde d'Aquitaine breeding females ever to be born on the young farmer’s land was’ Brockagh Winne’ become the farm’s most valuable possession.
Her outstanding performance surpasses the production of fifteen progeny; including eleven bulls and four heifers, all boasting streams of potential.
Banking on the success of this, breeding progeny to receive a placing in the show-ring remains a box to tick, as flushing two of the herd’s leading ladies tops the annual agenda.
In order to produce progeny of superior genetic merit, high-quality proven generations are sourced from France and Britain.
The herd is predominately 100% A.I.
‘There is a new panel of bulls offered by A.I. companies, so I will so how that fairs out. I will probably focus on utilising those, but also going back to French, in order to source something different.’ He added.
On an annual basis, ten of the herd’s bulls have gone on to become stock-bulls throughout Ireland, but also have grabbed the attentions of breeders in the U.K.
As a breeder producing quality progeny inside the farm gate, Mr. Moran has seven local and national Agricultural shows earmarked in his calendar.
The National Charolais Show, Tullamore Show, Kilkenny, Roscommon and Tullow are among the highlights, for the young breeder.
His eyes are securely fixed on the silverware and he is no stranger to claiming some of the countries’ top titles under his belt.
Close to one decade of showing has now passed, fuelled with success.
The Blonde herd has now two Supreme Championship titles to its name, owing their origin to the exhibits in 2011 and most recently in 2014 with ‘Broccagh Heatcliff ET’.
Following hot on the heels, the Reserve rosettes were picked up in 2013 with ‘Broccagh Gilbert’ and in 2015 with ‘Broccagh Iris ET’ for another two of the farm’s home-bred stock.
‘These would have to have been the high point in my farming career. There is just something special about taking home prizes at Ireland’s AIB National Livestock Show.’ He added.
His success is not confined to previous years or indeed the Blonde breed, with this year’s showing results deeply rooted in fetching first-prize for one of his Charolais bull calves at Mullingar Agricultural Show, this year.
With Tullamore Show being the pinnacle, Mr. Moran is one of the many exhibitors that will travel to Blueball Estate today, in order to compete this year.
Mr. Moran has proven that all his business is not all orientated around cattle.
The Westmeath-farm is home to a flock of 450 commercial breeding ewes of breeds; Mule X’s and Suffolk, along with a pedigree Rouge and Charollais ram dominating the pastures.
‘The Rouge is backed by a very powerful pedigree and will deliver his progeny with a unique stamp, with impressive maternal qualities.’ He explained.
Expanding to a forty-cow base and maintaining the herd’s current quality are among the future plans that the Westmeath man has up his sleeve.
‘I want to ensure that every cow around here has got the capability to produce a breeding bull. In terms of expansion, quality over quantity is going to take priority.’ He concluded.