Michael Flahive farms a herd of pedigree Kerry cattle and a commercial suckler enterprise comprising of Limousin and Charolais-crosses along the picturesque 180-ft Bromore Cliffs, one mile north of Ballybunion, Co. Kerry on the Kerry Wild Atlantic Way. Kerry cattle, one of Ireland’s own rare native bovine breeds, a native of the Kingdom has always had a strong affinity with the Flahive family for as long as Michael can recall.
“I was born and reared on the farm where I am based now and we always had Kerry cows. When I returned back to farming over one decade ago, I re-introduced Kerry cattle to the farm.” Michael Flahive told Catherina Cunnane of That’s Farming.
Conservation of Kerry Cattle
Michael, who is a member of The Kerry Cattle Society of Ireland now counts approximately twelve Kerry cattle, making this one of Ireland’s largest herds of Kerry cattle. It is believed that there fewer Kerry cows in the world than Giant Panda, with less than 1,000 beloved Kerry cattle dotted around the world.
It is in the interest of Michael and other candidates to continue their efforts in a bid to conserve one of the world’s oldest and indigenous bovine breeds, as exemplified by their continuous interest in this field.
“When REPS was first introduced, the breed was in a more positive position, as this increased the national and worldwide herds.In recent years, this has slipped back slightly in more recent times.” Michael explained.
“There is a subsidy of €120 for every Kerry calf born, but in order to qualify for this, you have to breed them pure and the calf has to be registered with The Kerry Cattle Society of Ireland.” Michael outlined.
Michael’s selective breeding policy incorporates the retention of replacement heifers which calve down at thirty-six-months, while the bull calves are sold to dedicated customers. A stockbull is retained on the farm until he celebrates his third birthday and an alternative bull carrying new blood is selected thereafter, however; Michael is currently utilising the best Kerry genetics available through A.I, with a belief that this practice will push the breeding programme to great heights this season.
“Our farm is located here on the cliff and it is fairly exposed. We opened up the farm six years ago for cliff walks and in order to offer this unique opportunity we established Bromore Cliffs.” Michael explained.
“They are a very docile breed and are very easy to manage. Kerry cows can calve up to 15-16 years of age, with ease, so they are very suitable for our farming system and geographical location.” He added.
“Occasionally, if the A.I fails or if other circumstances arise, we cross a Kerry cow with a Charolais bull and they calve without any intervention or assistance.Kerry cows produce calves within a 365-day calving interval; are excellent mothers and have strong maternal qualities.” Michael highlighted.
Looking forward to the future, Michael is satisfied the current size of both the pedigree herd on the home-farm and the commercial sucklers on the out-farm, with an objective to maintain quality, with no expansion plans stirring in the pipeline.
“There is great demand for milk produced by Kerry cows - the fat globules are smaller and it is easier to digest, making it suitable for people with certain food allergies. There is a demand for hand-milked Kerry cows, but they are very difficult to locate.” Michael explained.
“I have always had Kerry cattle and we will always have them,” Michael concluded.If you a sheep and/ or cattle breeder and you want to share your story, get in touch - email firstname.lastname@example.org and you may just be featured on That’s Farming next week.