The Silverbrook herd is owned and managed by third-generation farmer, John McEvoy in the heart of Bogtown, Killygowan, Co. Offaly.
The farm which comprises of a suckler and sheep enterprise on a part-time basis and he is also involved in the running of the home farm, which is now under the direction of his brother, following their father’s retirement in 2015.
On the sheep front, the Offaly-native first introduced twenty-five Rouge-cross-Beltex ewe lambs to the pastures when he first commenced farming. These have since produced three crops of lambs and John has also since increased his ewe base by a further ten breeding females. The ewes are crossed with a Beltex ram and all progeny pass through the ring of Tullamore Mart at approximately 43-44kg.
“Without the sheep, I would not have my yard or my facilities - they really got me on my feet!”.
“The sheep were small money to buy into, but at the end of the day, there was a great return from them.”
Pedigree Charolais and Charolais-cross breeding females dominate John’s 15-acre holding, with all eyes are fixed securely on breeding high-end quality cattle. The offspring from the commercial cows goes under the hammer as weanlings at the local mart in November/December, with an aim to collect prices within the €2.50- €3.00/kg price bracket.
“Charolais cattle are big-framed cattle, with the ability to put on weight quickly and carry quite a quantity of weight,” John said.
“I find that there are very few problems with lameness; illness and other ailments. All of my are out-wintered and they are very strong cattle coming into the spring.” John explained.
Impressed with the success of his commercial Charolais breeding programme combined with his interest in the bovine genetics field, led to the establishment of a pedigree Charolais cattle herd.
In November-2017, John acquired his foundational female - a pedigree in-calf Charolais heifer 'Cornadrung Laurel' sired by Lyonsdemesne Tzar. Laurel gave birth to 'Silverbrook Nero' and has since been scanned back in-calf to AI bull Fiston (FSZ) with twin bull calves. John also purchased a stock bull, Drumcullen Maestro, a Vexour Granville son from the renowned herd of John Fleury, Birr, Co. Offaly in March-2017. John's pedigree cattle are registered with the Irish Charolais Cattle Society under the newly formed ‘Silverbrook’ name.
“At the moment, I am striving for quality over quantity, but I would like to retain replacements from my best cows. They are well-bred fertile; docile; maternal and productive cows, so I hope to retain their daughters.” John added.
Looking forward to the future, John has intentions to increase the size of both his flock and herd, but wishes to simultaneously maintain and improve quality.
With a keen interest to explore the pedigree bovine field, John will eventually break onto the show circuit, after he starts turning out cattle for society shows and sales. Before the 2018-calendar draws to a close, he would not rule out purchasing another pedigree Charolais heifer.
“In terms of the sheep flock, I am impressed the performance - shape and style of my lambs, so I may retain 5-10% of ewe lambs going forward.” He explained.
“I have a real interest in pedigree breeding as demonstrated by my pedigree Charolais herd; however, I wouldn’t rule out a pedigree sheep flock someday in the future either,” John concluded.
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