Michael Dullea runs a 60-suckler cow herd in Deelish, Drimoleague, Co. Cork with his wife – Sinead – and two children – Emily (11) and Jamie (9).
Forty pedigree Angus cows and three pedigree Parthenaise females are farmed under the Deelish prefix.
The family also have ten pedigree Hereford breeding females – a mix of polled and horned-types, with horned animals managed under the Deelish name while polled-types are registered under the Lishdeel prefix.
The pedigree cattle share the pastures with a number of commercial breeding females.
Calving is based on a 60:40 autumn/spring system using 80% AI; the remaining females are served by stock bulls.
“If a cow doesn't perform as in has questionable fertility or milk, she does not get a second chance.” He told Catherina Cunnane – That’s Farming.
“She is slaughtered and replaced by a heifer – there is no room for passenger cows.”
Michael – a certified AI technician - uses an array of heat detection aids including scratch cards and a vasectomised bull to achieve an average calving interval of 365-days.
“I have a pretty wide range of straws in the tank going back to very old breeding lines and some great newer bulls that are widely available,” Michael explained.
“I try to select a bull that suits each cow individually to complement her strengths and weaknesses.”
When selecting sires for the herd – a BDGP and BEEP participant - he reviews a pedigree, appearance, calving ease and gestation length and seeks a positive set of indexes throughout.
He highlighted that calving ease and gestation length are extremely important in the Angus breed as a very high proportion of bulls are sold to dairy herds.
“Carcass weight and conformation are very important as this ensures that Angus-cross calves with dairy influence meet the spec at time of slaughter.”
“Hereford are similar though calving figures can be a little higher.” He added.
Heifers calve down at twenty-four-months to an easy-calving bull – with little or no difficulty.“Once a heifer is hitting her target weights at weaning, service and at calving and is served to an easy-calving bull, very few problems arise.”
All calves are weighed at birth and again at different stages throughout the year as this gives an accurate insight into how each individual animal is performing.
All calves are genomically-tested in the first months of life to confirm parentage and to increase reliability on their indexes.
Shows and Sales
Bulls are fertility-tested and sold to new and repeat customers for breeding purposes.
He normally retains 15% of heifers annually; the remaining females are sold as surplus breeding stock and inferior types are slaughtered.
Michael also earmarks a selection of calves every year which compete at various local and national agricultural shows.
He is in the process of training this year’s exhibits and hopes that his children – Emily and Jamie – will have their entries ready for various Young Handler classes throughout the year.
“We are looking forward to the show season as it a great way to get away from the farm and meet people.”
“It’s a good opportunity to show spectators the type of cattle we produce here in Deelish.”
“I have made some great friends for life through showing and selling cattle,” Michael added.
Their main highlights over the last four years including winning the Over-all All-Ireland Parthenaise Champion title in Tullamore with Deelish Klaudia in 2016 and Deelish Klass-Act in 2017.
Deelish Lightning Maqueen was tapped forward as the Reserve Over-all Parthenaise Champion at the show that year.
The family won two first prizes and the Overall Junior Female Champion silverware with Polly at the Irish Angus All-Ireland finals in Strokestown in 2017.
The Dulleas celebrated a significant milestone in 2017 as they exported a large number of award-winning Parthenaise cattle to a customer in the Czech Republic.
In 2018, they had the Overall Female Champion at the Aldi/ABP All-Ireland with Carrigroe Nice which was held at Iverk Show in Co. Kilkenny.
They also sold Deelish Panache (AA4821) – one of their young Angus bulls – in a private deal to Eurogene AI last year; he forms part of their spring 2019 bull panel.
Going forward, Michael’s plans for the next four years include maintaining his current herd size and improving quality by carefully selecting AI sires in line with his breeding goals.
Cattle outdoors for nine months of the year on the Cork-based holding, so grassland management is of utmost importance.
“I will keep my grass quality as high as possible through reseeding and weed control.” He explained.
When discussing future plans, Michael highlighted the importance of family time and having a good network of neighbours who often make life easier and safer.
“We all need to look after ourselves a little better and take time out to recharge the batteries and spend time with the people close to us.”
“We as farmers are only a cog on a very big wheel but by working together, we can make life easier, safer and maybe more profitable for us all.” He concluded.
If you are a cattle and/or sheep breeder and you want to share your story, email – firstname.lastname@example.org – with a short bio.