Tuesday, 12 January 2016

A look back on 2015

It is hard to believe that 2015 has come and gone so quickly. 2015 was a busy year for us here at Killrowan Farm. We have since undergone a lot of hard work in regards to the conservation of our beloved Droimeann (DroimFhionn) Cow and ensuring she has a future in Irish agriculture for years to come.
Droimeann (DroimFhionn) cows here at Killrowan Farm
We have increased our commercial and suckler herd also, introducing more maiden heifers to the mix and we also purchased a Pedigree Charolais Bull, affectionately known as "Seanie".

 A lot of work was undertaken in regards to maintenance and improvement  of the farm itself and to update our farm infrastructure. We have spent the last few months installing new fencing systems and building a multi- purpose farm office/canteen and other use building. We are currently in the process of building a new secondary farm yard and animal handling system.

Our highland cattle have been busy keeping the hill farm in order, hence why we now call them our "Bovine Bulldozers". They are incredibly hardy animals and are a major asset to the hill farm and they are fantastic utilizers of rough grass, scrubs and will live on almost anything!!

Our Bovine Bulldozers!

Our Droimeann (DroimFhionn) breeding programme involves carefully selecting animals and keeping with the breed characteristics. These beauties are the oldest surviving native Irish breed of cow with roots firmly set in Irish history and folklore.Conservation of this beautiful breed and ensuring that it has a solid future was one of the primary reasons that Killrowan Farm was founded.
Droimeann (DroimFhionn) 

We are currently improving on our Droimeann (DroimFhionn) herd by carefully selecting Droimeann bulls to be bred with.We  breed Droimeann cows that have plenty of milk, that are long lasting, are low maintenance and that are docile in temperament. In order the preserve this breed, we feel it is important to showcase the versatility of the Droimeann cow.
We want to showcase the Droimeann cow as an ideal suckler cow. As members on the ICBF Beef Data Genomics Scheme, many of our Droimeann cows are proving themselves as great suckler cows with many of our cows having 4 and 5 Star status.
Easy Calving is a major characteristic to the Droimeann (DroimFhionn) Breed

As members of the Beef Data Genomics programme. We recieve a detailed report on the star rating of each of our cattle. We use this to identify suitable crosses and to identify cows which need to be moved on due to poor star rating and calving intervals. As well as using the technical side of breeding we also used the timeless and crucial system of using "our own judgement". Any person who knows their cattle will know how best to move their herd forward. This is especially important when dealing with the Droimeann herd. We find the Beef Data Genomics system very helpful in improving our continental herd
We are also pedigree registered breeders of the world famous breed of cow, the Scottish Highland or as they are called here "our Bovine Bulldozers". Back in 2011, Mike introduced Scottish Highland Cattle to the farm. We purchased 3 Pedigree Scottish Highland heifers and imported them into the country. The first arrivals were imported from England and the third arrival came a few weeks later in from the Highlands of Scotland. We later bought a Highland bull from which we kept replacement heifers and have been increasing our herd since.
Highland cows on our hill farm

Highland cattle are fantastic animals for their utilization of grass, hardiness,quality beef and docility. Highland cattle, like our Droimeann ladies are extremely docile and so pleasant to deal with. The way in which they manoeuvre their horns still amazes us.
We had previously been breeding our highland girls with a Droimeann bull and we have been extremely impressed with the results. We feel they are smashing looking calves and as a crossbred have great potential for beef purposes as they combine the best characteristics from these two wonderful breeds
Highland/Droimeann heifer calf
We also have a small herd of commercial cattle and sucklers ranging from Herefords, Shorthorns, Aberdeen Angus and Charolais.
Our  Charolais bull  was introduced to run with our suckler herd and a number of our Droimeann (DriomFhionn) cows also.  Droimeann cows make ideal suckler cows as they can be put with any bull and rarely ever have any difficulty calving. Droimeann cows are excellent mothers and have lots of milk, for this reason, crossing them with continentals is ideal as the growth potential of the offspring is excellent. When people think of rare breeds they often think of wild, primitive animals with poor growth rates in offspring. This is not the case at all. They produce excellent quality calves. The reason we are using our Charolais bull on some of our Droimeann cows is to showcase the Droimeann cow as an ideal suckler cow,  which we feel is an important aspect in preserving the breed as it would be great some day if people chose a Droimeann cow as their preferred suckler cow breed. This in turn would add demand to the breed and save them from their endangered status.
The few  Droimeann/ Charolais  offspring that we will have will be treated the same as our suckler herd calves , they will be fattened and then brought to the factory.

For our sheep enterprise, we breed pedigree Hampshire Down and Pedigree Belclare sheep along with a mixture of commercial sheep including Cheviot, Texel and Belclare crosses. 
Lambing 2015 kicked off from 1st April with our flock lambing to 3 different rams, the majority of our lambs were from the Hampshire Down ram and Belclare, with a small percentage of later lambs off the Cheviot.

It was our first year using a Hampshire Down ram. I personally have had a long love for this breed and always wanting to introduce the breed. Myself and Mike purchased a ram and hogget ewes and after much success we have decided to stick with the breed.

Our top reasons for choosing the Hampshire Down as a breed are that they have Trouble free lambing with High survival rates. The Hampshire Down lambs mature early and have a high liveweight gain with Quality muscled carcase producing Good killing out percentage

We continued to breed Belclare sheep as we continue to be impressed with the quality of the lambs, their ease of lambing and  mothering ability.

We count ourselves incredibly lucky to be able to do what we are both incredibly passionate about. Neither Mike nor myself could ever imagine our lives without farming in it. We will continue with our plans for Killrowan Farm and look forward to what 2016 brings us.

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