The first four pedigree Hereford calves of the summer have arrived safe and sound on the farm. We were almost worn out waiting for the first calf to appear and then three calved within two days of each other with the fourth arriving over the weekend. Three cows calved completely unassisted with the fourth one being brought into the shed as a precaution but she calved without any major difficulty.
We ended up with three bulls and a heifer; two of them are sired by our senior Hereford stock bull, Glaslough Judge, one off our new stock bull Clooncullane King 322 and the fourth coming off the five star AI bull, Cill Cormaic Kasper (KZP). The little calves are exceptionally hardy and all four pairs are doing brilliantly.
One of the cows, a five star replacement index cow, is a terrifically good suckler with an abundance of milk so we let one of the baby Friesian calves suckle her every day to prevent over-feeding and possible scour in her own natural calf. We’ll continue to do this for the next fortnight or so until her own calf is mature enough to take a big feed. The cow was haltered as a youngster so it’s no trouble to slip on the rope and leave her tied to the crush as the adopted baby calf suckles her. It’s a wonderful combination of docility and milking ability and goes to prove once again that the Hereford is hard to beat as a suckler cow.
Once the excitement of the calving was over, we had to select names for each of the newborns. Pedigree cattle must be registered with their own individual name, and as we exhibit so many cattle at shows, it’s important to have a memorable and classy name. We went for Kilsunny Oliver, Kilsunny Ozzy and Kilsunny Omar for the three bulls with the heifer being christened Kilsunny Lass Orchid. This season’s beef calves will all receive a name beginning with the letter O with next year’s calves being named after the letter P and so forth. We rarely refer to animals by tag number, everything is called by name (or pet-name in some cases!) and once the name is chosen then they’re officially part of the Kilsunny family.
Kilsunny Lass Lily, the dam of one of the three newborn bull calves, was a big winner for the herd on the show circuit last summer. She won 13 1st prizes in 2016 alone and we hope to take her out to some of the bigger shows next month as a junior cow. Junior cows must be rearing their first natural calf and must not have reached three years of age. It’s a tough enough ask to get a young female ready for showing so soon after calving but Lily is really looking well and hopefully she will be able to pick up from where she left off last summer. Either way, it’ll be brilliant to get her back into the show ring again and show her off with her first-born calf at foot.
Our 2017 show campaign continued this week with the cattle competing at Dungarvan, Co. Waterford on Thursday last. Mid-week shows are not terribly popular but a handful of them are still in existence. Dungarvan is a typical rural, parish affair with a huge voluntary team effort behind it and a great show to be involved in. We always try to support Dungarvan each summer and this year five Kilsunny cattle went head to head in the Hereford section. We came home with two 1sts, two 2nds and a third prize with our team of bull calves completing a 1-2-3 clean sweep of the junior bull calf class. It was a real moment to cherish, as it’s very rare that one exhibitor can win every prize in a single class. It was a nice way to follow up on our double championship wins last weekend and puts our show team in good stead for the remainder of the shows this summer.
This week, I’m heading over to the UK for the English Hereford Show. It’s my first time travelling to England for a show and I’m really looking forward to seeing the Hereford cattle on the other side of the water. It’ll also be nice to be a spectator for a change and watch the proceedings from the opposite side of the ring.
I’ll have all the highlights from the English show circuit in next week’s blog.