At 20-years-old, Kildare native Conor Quinn has been involved in the industry for what is the most of his life to date.
Conor was born into a family of Suckler and sheep farmers, while they also keep beef stock on their farm in Castledermot in Co. Kildare.
“I am from Castledermot in Co. Kildare.” Conor told That’sFarming.
“One farm is located here and the other farm is located in Tullow, Co. Carlow…There are about 200-acres in total” he continued.
Together, Conor and the Quinn family not only keep a herd of Suckler cows but also run their own flock of sheep and finish beef stock. In total, the Quinn’s keep an average of 350-cattle, 80 of which are Sucklers, with the rest stores and bullocks. On the sheep side, the family keep an average of 130-ewes, all Suffolk types. The land farmed by the family totals around 200-acres altogether.
This meant that the vast majority of Conor’s childhood was spent helping out on the family farm, something he always wanted to do.
“I have been involved in farming since I was small. From farming as a child with Dad up to now,” Conor explained.
“I also used to go around (farming) with my father’s cousin, as well as doing a small bit of cattle dealing and hauling too.” He added.
Conor admits to always having had a passion for the cattle enterprise, rather than the sheep side of the farm.
“I am more into the cattle, as I haven’t much patience for the sheep.” Conor laughed.
Conor’s journey to date -
At 20-years-old, Conor already has significant experience within the industry.
Having always wanted to get involved in the industry from a young age, Conor decided, following his secondary education in Carlow town, to go to Kildalton Agricultural college. Here he is now in his second year, where he is studying a level Six in Advanced Drystock Management.
“I recently won the beef student of the year.” said Conor.
“I will be finished this course in May and I am not quite sure where to go on and do further studies in WIT.” Conor continued.
Farm System -
Currently, Conor and his family are running a Suckler herd, their own flock of ewes and they also keep approximately 270 cattle for finishing.
At the minute at home, they calve down approximately 80 Suckler cows, split into two groups, 30 Autumn calvers and 50 Spring Calvers. All of the cows are continental crossbreds, including Charolais, Limousine, Belgian Blue, Simmental, Aubrac, Parthenaise and Whitehead breeds.
“There are 80 Sucklers and everything else is either kept as store cattle or beef cattle.” Conor said.
“We keep mainly Charolais and Limousines, but there are also some Belgian blues, Parthenaise, Simmental, Aubrac and Whitehead cattle.”
Conor also noted that there are one or two Friesian cows within the herd, though they won’t go down that route again in the future.
“We have one or to Friesians too, to remind myself not to have any more” he laughed.
On the breeding front, the Quinn family are currently running with three Limousine stock bulls, which look after their cows during the breeding season. One of the bulls was only purchased last March and was the Reserve Champion at the Roscrea show and sale.
“We have three stock bulls, which are all Limousine.” said the Young Farmer.
“Last year, we purchased the Reserve champion in Roscrea, at the show and sale.” he added.
The family had formerly run with Charolais bulls approximately ten years ago, before changing to Limousine bulls for a greater ease of calving.
“We used to have a Charolais here about 10/12 years ago, before dad got the building company going.” said Conor.
“He (Conor’s father) had Limousines because they are easy calving and have a greater ‘get-up-and-go’ to them compared to the Charolais’.”
The Quinn’s breed their own heifers on the farm to keep as replacements, keeping between 10-15 of the best ones each year.
“We keep the best heifers for cows, usually about 10-15.” Conor explained.
“We go on the shape, size, weight and stars.” He added.
All other calves born on the farm are kept for beef purposes and finished by the family themselves. They raise their own bull calves to bulls for finishing. The system in place also sees them purchasing mainly weanling bulls, finishing them at either under 16 months or under 24-months.
“Everything on the farm is sent for slaughter, we never go to the Marts to sell.” said Conor.
“We purchase bull weanlings and kill the bulls either for the under 16-month market or the under 24 -month market. These are mainly being Charolais, limousines and Belgian blues.” He added.
The Quinn family also buy in bullocks every year, finishing them on grass during the summer months, and again sticking to the Limousine and Charolais breeds. They purchase these at many marts throughout the country, such as Tullow, Carlow, Carnew, Kilcullen, Ballinakill, Kilkenny and Kilcullen.
“We buy some privately and some in the marts, such as Tullow, Carlow, Kilcullen, Carnew, Ballinakill or Kilkenny.” Conor told That’sFarming.
On the sheep front, Conor tends to leave this side of the enterprise to his father, instead focusing his own efforts on the cattle side. His father runs a flock of 130 ewes alongside their Suckler and beef enterprise, mainly Suffolk-types. He is helped by the family’s farm dog, Benji!
Grazing on the Quinn family enterprise is done through a mixture of different systems, strip grazing, set stocking and some rotational grazing.
“We do some strip grazing, some set stocking and some rotational grazing, Depending on what’s in the field.” The farmer noted.
Conor’s father currently works day-to-day as a building contractor for QDC Builders, meaning he is off-farm for the majority of the week. This means that working duties on the farm are divided between a full-time employee, Brian, and Conor himself.
“I would be heavily involved in whatever has to be done and in decision making. There is a man working here full time at the moment because my father is a building contractor (QDC Builders).” Conor explained.
“So, a lot of the work is done by me and Brian. Dad is still heavily involved with calving cows and working on the weekend,” he added.
Conor’s Future and the farm -
In terms of the future, one thing that is certain for Conor is that he will remain heavily involved in the running of the home farm.
In the short term, he aims to get his college degree “out of the way”, though he is unsure as of yet whether he will return home to farm full-time OR join his father in the construction industry.
“I am not quite sure yet if I’ll go home full-time farming yet, as I might go working with my father on the buildings.” Conor told Kevin of That’sFarming.
“But I’ll still be heavily involved.”
On the farm front, Conor says the family will likely look to continue expanding cow numbers, as well as the number of cattle kept for beef. Conor has big aims of increasing their Suckler herd by over twenty head to in excess of 100 cows.
“I will more than likely expand in numbers.” said Conor.
“I’d like to increase the cow numbers to over the 100 mark in the next few years and have bigger beef cattle numbers.”
One other change which Conor is considering implementing on their farm, is the addition of a Charolais stock bull to their team, just as they had in the early 2000’s.
“I would also like to try out a Charolais bull on the Sucklers,” he said.
“Most of the cows here at the minute are all Limousine cross, so I’d like to bring another cross in with the Charolais.” Conor continued.
Facility-wise, Conor says they are quite well equipped on the farm at the moment, though should cow numbers increase as planned, then they will have to look into developing them further and adding to housing facilities.
“There are good facilities here at the moment, but with expanding numbers more sheds will have to be built.” said the farmer.
Why Ag -
Continuing what is now a family tradition, Conor says he loves the industry simply because it is all he ever knew.
“I love farming because it’s a thing I was brought up with. It’s been in the family for generations” he said.
“I love nature in general and seeing cows calving and ewes lambing is great. I just like working outdoors and with animals I suppose…It’s just a great way of life” He added.
Although 20-year-old Conor might yet take on a role within the construction industry alongside his father, farming is never too far from his thoughts. Ambitious, determined and proud in continuing something started by his family generations ago, Conor was bitten by the agricultural bug a long time ago and there is simply no going back now!
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