Dave Cummins and his father are the duo behind Listakem Glen Farm - Screebogue, Carrickboy, Co. Longford.
Traditionally, the family ran a small-scaled dairy operation until the point when Dave and his brothers left their home county due to academic commitments; the Cummins then introduced commercial suckler cows to the Longford-based holding.
"We're farmers both sides of the family. My mother is from Roscommon and they were sheep; cattle and horse farmers and my Dad was involved in dairy farming and had horses." Dave Cummins told Catherina Cunnane of That's Farming.
While Dave has always been involved in farming, he took an alternative pathway, and furthered his studies, graduating with a degree in Business.
He has worked at several firms including The Bull and Castle by F.X Buckley; Tullamore Dew and Celtic Whiskey Shop & Wines On The Green - running craft beer bars; hotels; off-licences and restaurants for the close to two decades.
He came more involved in the running of the family in 2013 and is now based in Dublin; he has a full-time off-farm position a Brand Ambassador for two companies - Porterhouse Brewing Company and The Dingle Whiskey Distillery.
The role ranges from sales to hosting and attending numerous tasting events; dinner nights and private functions.
"I represent both brands in whatever capacity is needed at events including private functions; dinner nights and tasting events."
"I enjoy working for a company that's Irish and supports local. The company has stayed grounded and has operated in this way since its formation in 1989." Dave added.
Dave's father oversees the running of the entire farm on a daily basis, while Dave is at the helm of the breeding programme and ET work, while he also takes charge of the business affairs - the buying and selling of cattle and is available when the workload mounts on the farm.
Dave flies the Angus flag, while his father is a keen Simmental enthusiast; however, both herds dominate the same pastures.
Dave brings his considerable experience in the business domain to his family farm and runs the family enterprise as a business; therefore, he is always striving to improve feeding and breeding systems and the overall performance of the Angus and Simmental herds including weight gain.
"As I said to my Dad when I got into farming, farming is a business. If it is not going to work as a business, then we sell up; close up and let somebody else at it." Dave added.
[Listakem Glen Beauty S338 from the farm's first foundation Aberdeen Angus cow - Dowagh Homely and is a daughter of Blackhaugh Time F610]
Both herds are registered under the 'Listakem Glen' prefix with the Irish Aberdeen Angus Society and the Irish Simmental Society.
To improve the herd, Dave has sourced embryos from North America and purchased a cow and embryos from Scotland.
Dave is committed to bringing superior genetics from around the world including Scotland and England to improve the genetic merit of his cattle that are sold for breeding purposes as additions to existing herds or foundational animals.
"Similarly, the Simmental blood pool is very small in Ireland and it needs expansion. The next straws I am bringing in are from Scotland and they will be used for the next two years."
"If you look at any of the sires in AI book, they all share a lot of parentages that are very close to each other. For me, it is about bulls that are at the top end of the bracket."
Unique Selling Point
Pedigree bulls are not sold from Listakem Glen Farm until they reach a minimum of 16-months of age and Dave explained the reasons behind this implementation of this policy.
"We run our system on a basis whereby from the minute that a farmer buys a bull, he is ready for work and the farmer does not have to keep them for six months."
"For me, farming is business and if you let bulls off too young that is a bad business practice in my opinion."
"I much prefer the Scottish system where they are actually bulls and they are ready for work. In Ireland, we are very quick to let them off when they are still calves and I know there are reasons for doing this too." Dave added.
Bulls go under the hammer at society show and sales while several private deals are also sealed.
The utilisation of unique bloodlines has proven to be a unique selling point when it comes to marketing Listakem Glen Farm's progeny.
"Most of the bulls that I use are not used by many other people if any other people at all. Some people come directly to the farm to have a look and they are welcome to do so."
"I sold a pedigree Angus bull to a breeder in Northern Ireland because he is the only one in the country with that pedigree." Dave outlined.
[Listakem Glen Duke U006 - Dam: Goulding Missie N262 and Sire: Blelack Duke]
Social Media and Shows
Dave promotes Listakem Glen Farm on Facebook - a digital platform that always him to forge a connection with breeders worldwide.
"I get several messages from people in England; Estonia; Germany; Holland; Argentina and America to name but a few."
"People want to know how each animal is progressing; their stats; their weight gain and their pedigree (dam and sire) - people are curious and they want to know this information," Dave noted.
Regarding the show circuit, Dave enjoys seeing farmers showing their animal with pride but he doesn't think that he would ever buy a show animal.
"I do like shows as a platform to showcase animals but I would always take them with a pinch of salt."
"As in, I would do my homework and try and know what each farmers practice was in regards feeding," Dave stressed.
While Dave acknowledged that seeing show exhibits may give him an idea as to how a bull or cow bloodline is performing, he still likes to visit the farm to see them in their working clothes and also view others from different herds.
"For me, it's all just part of a decision; I take weights 4 or 5 times a year; I research bloodline and pedigrees plus I look at the animal and other relations of the animal.”
“They are all tools but not one on its own is enough; it’s a combination of them all together,” Dave added.
[Listakem Glen Jewel. sired by Celtic Rock is due to calve to Popes Barclay on Christmas Day. She is from the farm's Towerhill Eponine cow family - one of the foundation females]
Satisfied in his current role as a brand ambassador for both Porterhouse Brewing Company and The Dingle Whiskey Distillery, Dave and his father will continue to work alongside his father to push the farm to greater heights.
Their goal is to run a herd of twenty Angus breeding females and twenty Simmental breeding females.
“Once we get to the forty mark, we will see where we take it from there.” Dave Cummins concluded.
If you are a cattle and/or sheep breeder and you want to share your story, email - firstname.lastname@example.org - and you may be featured on That’s Farming next week.
Image source: Listakem Glen Farm.