Kilmaine, Co. Mayo is home to Woodview Farm, an operation owned and managed by 30-year-old John Morahan and his parents - Frank and Breege.
The trio runs a large-scale sheep and beef enterprise, steeped in family history.
Their flock comprises of 450 ewe hoggets that are sold every autumn and 550 pedigree Lanark ewes - 80% of which are crossed with the Bluefaced Leicester ram to produce Mayo Mules and the remainder are bred to Lanark rams in order to breed replacement females.
Superior Lanark males are earmarked and sold for breeding purposes as pedigree shearling rams at the West of Ireland Lanark Breeders’ sale.
The Morahans also own a small flock of pedigree Bluefaced Leicesters.
“We find that the mules have good maternal traits and they are very prolific. We are in the heart of the mule-producing country.” John Morahan - Woodview Farm told Catherina Cunnane - That’s Farming.
“Our aim is to produce females to go on for breeding. We like a sharp, colourful sheep that has good length and conformation.”
Shows and Sales
Woodview Farm has experienced immense success at Mayo Mule and Greyface Group sales. They offer their females for sale either as ewe lambs or ewe hoggets at this sale at Aurivo Ballinrobe Mart, while all males are fed and slaughtered.
Along with receiving the top call of the day, the breeders were awarded first prize in the mule ewe lambs category, along with the red ribbons for their mule ewe hoggets; their sale-topping pen of hoggets secured the champion silverware.
This success came just two weeks after John retained the FBD National Livestock Show Blue Faced Leicester Champion at Tullamore Show for the third consecutive year.
John made his debut on the livestock show circuit when he was 17-18 years of age and has played an active role ever since, attending up to five shows every year.
“Shows are our shop windows as they create a lot of sales for us. People can see the stock and can make contact with us.”
“Two years ago, I decided to establish a Facebook page for the farm. So many people are on the social media platform, so it is a simple and convenient way to reach out to a lot of people in a short period of time.”
Suckler beef farming paints part of the picture for the family who run herd comprising of 80 Continental R grade suckler cows, all of which are bred to Charolais sires. Due to strong terminal traits of the progeny, replacement heifers are outsourced from reputable herds.
All progeny are brought to beef, at various ages with 70% of bulls slaughtered under 16-months, while the remainder at killed under 24-months; they aim to kill all heifers under twenty-months to a maximum age of thirty months.
This beef production system is rolled out alongside an all-year-round fattening unit which consists of cattle that are purchased; fed on the quality-assured farm and slaughtered.
Acknowledging that the suckler beef sector requires immediate financial support, John is of the opinion that a targeted payment of €200/suckler cow is the minimum value that farmers require.
“The last couple of winters, I don’t know what you would need to subsidise it. It is of serious concern as the winters are just too long. A targeted payment is a must.”
John stressed the importance of joining a group. He is a member of the South Mayo Lamb Producer Group; West of Ireland Lanark; Mayo Mule and South of Ireland Blue Leicester Group.
“My main concern is the way that factories dictate prices. Meat producer groups are essential in terms of selling your product as a group as opposed to being an individual farmer.”
John and his parents plan to continue the success of the thriving family-run sheep and beef enterprise.
Image source: Woodview FarmIf you are a sheep and/or cattle breeder and you want to share your story, email - firstname.lastname@example.org and you may be featured on That’s Farming next week.