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Friday 2 December 2016

A top class herd built on home bred cows

Three strong bloodlines are the foundation for the Screene family's Windfield herd of Holstein Friesians

Martin Ryan

Published 13/07/2016 | 02:30

Top price heifer, Windfield Katie 17, which sold for €4,200, being held by John Curtin.
Top price heifer, Windfield Katie 17, which sold for €4,200, being held by John Curtin.
Tommy Screene from Menlough in Co Galway.
Nicola McLoughlin and Aoibhinn Screene with the seven-month calf sold for €2,000.

Building a successful dairy herd from home-bred strong cow families was the main theme at the Annual Irish Holstein Friesian Association (IHFA) Open Day which was held on the farm of Tommy and Orla Screene at Menlough in Co Galway - the first time the event has been held in the county.

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More than 1,500 breeders admired the progeny of the successful Katie, Mary, and Irene bloodlines, three of the cow families upon which the 65-cow Windfield herd has been built.

The Screene family, who have been farming at Windfield since 1890, switched to dairy farming in the 1970s and the pedigree herd was established by Tommy in 1999.

A new dairy unit was erected on a green field site the following year.

He has successfully concentrated on building the herd around a select number of cow families, relying mainly on herd replacements and breeding them to 100pc AI sires specifically chosen to improve both yield and solids and breed a functional type cow.

"Our heifers consistently keep improving year on year," said Tommy.

He added that the heifers being offered at the draft sale in tandem with the event "included many that we would love to retain for the herd's future progress.

"Our aim is to breed an economically efficient cow with five equally important traits, good production of high milk solids, good feet and legs, good fertility and longevity," he said.

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The herd has been testing for BVD for four years with all tests clear and routine vaccination is carried out for IBR and Leptospirosis.

The official opening was performed by Arrabawn CEO, Conor Ryan, the major sponsor for the event, and the guest of honour was Connacht rugby star John Muldoon, a friend of Tommy Screene (pictured) from his rugby playing days with Buccaneers.

IHFA resident Alec Ryan congratulated the Screenes on "a fine herd of cows" and IHFA chief executive Charles Gallagher described it as a "fantastic achievement" for any farmer to put together a herd of cows with such performance and strength while also breeding for longevity.

Master judge for the stock-judging competitions was Northern Ireland's David Parry, president elect of the Holstein Friesian Association in the UK.

In-calf heifer tops sale at €4,200

A top price of €4,200 was paid at the Windfield IHFA Open Day sale of pedigrees for an in-calf heifer with the potential to be a third generation EX and

whose dam and sister has topped 4pc protein.

February 2014 born Windfield Katie 17 is out of Windfield Merci Katie 3, one of the top cow families in the Screenes’ herd, and is by the sire, Bomaz Marion Emerald 648.

There was huge interest in the heifer when she entered the sales ring as she is a maternal sister to Windfield Beverlake Katie —  a heifer that produced 7,731kg at 4.65pc fat and 4.01pc protein while her dam produced 6,854kg milk at 4.26pc fat and 4.03 protein in her fifth lactation.

The hundreds of breeders who filled the ringside gave a round of applause in recognition of the sale topper from an entry of 38 animals from the herd, which has an impressive performance with yield averaging 1,870 gallons of milk at 3.83pc fat and 3.5pc protein. 

Another offspring of the Katie family in the herd, Windfield Katie 19, out of Windfield Faber Kate and the renowned sire Parlo Goldwyn Wyman ET achieved the second highest price at the sale, when the new owner paid €3,200 for her.

The Katie cow family were dominant at the sale in which five of the line were sold for a total of €13,900, an average of €2,780.

A seven month old heifer calf became another price topper when Windfield Clover SDX sold for €2,000 to bring down the curtain on the evening sale.

The proceeds, including auction fees were donated to charity.

Her dam is Ardglass Clover 39 and she is by the sire, Dream-Prairie Shadow Boxer.

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