Running the highly-renowned Seaview Simmental herd in the heart of Ballincollig, Co. Cork is a family affair for the O’Leary family - Tony; Sheila; and children Ava and James.
The herd was established in 1989 when the first foundational animals were acquired - they came in the form of five heifers including Kenzie and Hilary, two females that have brought the herd to great heights and continue to leave their mark, numerous generations later. Today, the Seaview Herd is managed alongside the Brideland Herd, which was established by Ava in 2012.
Eleven cows; ten calves and six heifers are owned and managed under the ‘Seaview’ prefix, a herd that focuses on the utilisation of 100% A.I. All bulls born on the farm that meet the criteria exchange hands for breeding purposes and are sold privately off-farm or go under the hammer at Roscommon Mart to farms in Ireland and across the waters in the U.K. The genetic quality of the home-bred bulls is demonstrated through the success that the family have attained -two of their sires, ‘Seaview Jordan’ and ‘Seaview Tommy’ were purchased by Ireland’s leading A.I. companies.
“Another bull that did the big job for us was Seaview Prince Charming- we sold him to the famous Kilbride Farm Herd. He has a tremendous influence on the herd. Up to 2014, he was either the grand-father or the great- grand-father of six out of seven Stirling Supreme champions in a row.” Ava explained.
“Simmental offer the complete package - they have everything with strong maternal and terminal traits and excellent fertility -they tick all the boxes. After breeding Simmentals for close to three decades, we are reassured that they are the best fit for our system.” Ava O’ Leary told Catherina Cunnane of That’s Farming.
“For our herd, we want a correct animal with a good beef ability and with our cows, we focus on milk; fertility and docility.” Ava highlighted.
The O’Leary family has always had a close connection with the Irish Simmental Cattle Society right from the period when the herd was founded. Tony served on the council for years; Ava is the current chairperson of the Southern Simmental Club and James was involved in the Southern Club Young Member’s Team that won the National Young Members Stock-judging final in Tullamore.
The O’Leary emerged onto the show circuit for the first time in 1999 and have swept the boards and picked up major awards at both local and national down through the years. They continue to travel up to fourteen shows - local and national throughout the year.
“Over the past five years, we have definitely been hitting the top three a lot in national competitions," Ava noted.
The family scooped Overall Male Champion 2016 at Tullamore Show with Seaview Gladiator and two national Calf Championships in 2017 - a yearling heifer, Seaview Harriet and Senior Bull Calf Champion at Strokestown Show with Seaview Handsome Prince.
“The two of these are all going back to the foundational cow families- Kenzie and Hilary.”
“For us, the shows are our show windows. As a result of our success on the show circuit, our best animals are usually gone before they get a chance to go to a ringside. We embrace any opportunity that we get to sell an animal privately.” Ava explained.
“Social media is also an essential marketing platform - we can showcase the success of our herd on a local and national scale to a wide audience with the click of a button.”
Looking forward to the future, the O’Leary family are satisfied with their current herd size and will continue to focus on breeding cattle at the upper end of the market, in terms of conformation and overall quality.
“We like to offer something a little bit different. With the way that things have gone with stars, it is restricting the genetics that we can use- we are tied down to try and breed an animal that is eligible for BDGP as that is what the market demands.”
“We still want to breed something with a little bit of an outcross that can stand up in a national class. We like to introduce genetics that have gone out of the pool for so long, that they are looked upon as somewhat new again - those lines are well able to stand up against modern genetics.” Ava concluded.
Photos: Alfie Shaw & Seaview Simmental.
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