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Tuesday 19 September 2017

Wicklow man on spending 25 years building up one of the country's finest Holstein-Friesian herds

 

Victor Jackson milks 140 Holstein-Friesans on his farm near Kiltegan, Co Wicklow. Photo: Roger Jones
Victor Jackson milks 140 Holstein-Friesans on his farm near Kiltegan, Co Wicklow. Photo: Roger Jones

Martin Ryan

Twenty five years ago, Victor Jackson first set eyes on the breed of dairy cows that would become the foundation of his livestock breeding ambitions.

He was visiting the Kelly family's Moneymore herd near Drogheda, Co Louth when he made his decision.

The Kellys had a long tradition of breeding some of the best Holstein-Friesian cows in the country.

On the day Victor visited the Champion and Reserve Champion from the 1982 National Dairy Show were on view and they inspired Victor's vision for the future of his fledging Crossnacole herd in Kiltegan, Co Wicklow.

In the intervening years, determination and carefully planned breeding has delivered success in the development of Victor's herd which is now into the third generation.

The current 140-cow Crossnacole herd produced 1.4 million litres for Glanbia in 2016 with a contract to supply 2,250l per day.

This is being produced off a land base comprising 126 acres on the home farm with a further 60ac rented for rearing young stock and 20ac of maize on contract.

Initially the herd was built upon stock from renowned cow families across the country and Northern Ireland as well as grading up the best cow families in the existing commercial herd.

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Victor's passion for better breeding was further fuelled by visits to North America and Canada over the years when, health regulations ­permitting, he purchased imported ­embryos to develop the herd.

The combined results means that 90pc of the herd is now classified VG or EX.

The Crossnacole prefix was originally registered with Holstein UK and Ireland (HUKI) n the early 1980s when Victor farmed in partnership with his late father, Charles.

His brother, Dermot, farms in his own right with the registered Borkilbeg prefix and another brother, Eric, runs a suckler beef herd and breeds pedigree Simmentals under the Slaneyview prefix.

World-renowned

Victor's herd profile now reads like a who's who of world-renowned cow families. These include the Precious, Truey, Lady, Roxy, Lulu, Vixan, Fame, Chastity, Allie, Apple Red, and Hermina families.

The Precious family tracing back to the Paradise cow is a favourite of Victor's with 46 female members registered, one of which Crossnacole Dundee Precious EX92 is dry and on a continuous flush programme. She is a granddaughter of the Integrity Paradise cow.

She has bred two EX second calvers and six full sisters calved in the herd - all scored VG 85 to 87 points as two-year-old heifers.

Her daughter Crossnacole Precious Gold EX92 by Goldwyn, was classified EX as a second calver and was a class winner at the 2014 RUAS Winter Fair and 2013 National Dairy Show. Her other daughter Crossnacole Shottle Precious is classified EX92.

She is the dam of Atwood Precious, now fresh on her third lactation and classified EX second calver in 2016. She has also bred Champion and Reserve Champions at the IHFA Bull sale.

Fifteen descendants from the Precious cow family have been listed for the celebratory sale of young stock which is included in the programme for the IHFA National Open Day on the Jackson farm on Thursday July 6.

The Hermine cow family in the herd originated in France and Crossnacole Hermine, a Blackstar grand-daughter, won her class at the European Show in 1995 and is classified EX93. She was purchased by Victor and is the foundation of a great family at Crossnacole with 34 members registered.

The Lady family is descended from Monashee Leo Lady EX94 4E which was exhibited so successfully by Cyril Dowling of the Baldonnell herd. She won the coveted Baileys Champion Cow prize in 2002.

Exhibiting at local and national shows, competing in the Bord Bainne National Herds Competition and participating in the Slaney and Kildare Club events have brought success and recognition for the herd.

The herd won the medium section in the Bord Bainne competition six years in-a-row and won the large herd section in the 2006 IHFA National Herds Competition.


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