Exploring new frontiers in beef breeding
A Co Laois farmer is taking on what many beef breeders regard as a 'mission impossible'
Garrett Behan is on a mission that some would regard as daunting and many believe to be 'impossible' - he wants to breed a 'continental type' Angus for beef production.
Along with his wife, Lyndsey, he runs the 'Clonagh' and 'Jennalyn' Simmental herds on their farm at Cloneygowan, Ballyfin, Co Laois. He also keeps some pedigree Charolais and the recently introduced Angus which he is determined to breed into a heavier carcase, more akin to the continentals on the farm than the traditional type Angus.
Already, less than two years since the first Angus arrived, he is convinced that he is on the right road to achieving success in his mission, which could revolutionise the breed for beef producers.
"The bonus scheme on Angus is very important and if I can bring them to the weights that continentals can be put to, then they can get into something serious in return - very serious when the bonus is added," he says.
"With the Angus I am trying to do something that I'm told I will not be able to do, but, from what I see on the ground I think that I will. I am trying to produce an Angus that will be as good as the continentals for the suckler farmer. That is the road that I am going down," he explained.
The first crop of calves from his six Angus suckler cows are encouraging with "an Angus calf born in September weighing 172kg after putting on an average of 2.06kg/day" and described as a "great calf" with "serious width".
The performances will be closely monitored, and if all goes to plan, his intention is to increase the Angus to maybe 30 cows in the coming seasons to produce progeny capable of carcase weights rarely seen in the present genes for the breed.
The backbone of the herd continues to be the 70 Simmental suckler cows that continue to produce a record setting trail of winners for the show circuit.