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Sunday 4 December 2016

Limousin landmark

Laois farmer Dan Tynan showcased the progress of the Limousin breed in Ireland for the recent International Limousin Congress

Martin Ryan

Published 07/09/2016 | 02:30

Limousins
Limousins

Dan Tynan could hardly have imagined when he inherited his uncle's farm that it was the beginning of a road that would lead him to owning one of the largest pedigree Limousin concerns in the country.

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The 900ac farm at Doon outside Mountrath, Co Laois is home to the Ardlea-Elite Pedigree Herd. Females from the herd have sold for up to €40,000 and many of their progeny have become foundation stock for some of the top Limousin herds in this country and beyond.

The herd was one of three Limousin farms chosen to showcase the breed here to 220 international Limousin breeders who travelled to Ireland for the bi-annual International Limousin Congress hosted by the Irish Society.

The scale of the farms visited varied greatly. The delegates visited the Drummin Herd of John and Paula McInerney, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co Clare where 10 pedigree cows run alongside their dairy enterprise.

The 200-head Roundhill Herd of Timothy, Doreen and Katie Corridon, at Fedamore, Co Limerick was also on the shortlist.

The Ardlea-Elite Herd completed the trio of holdings. It has 350 pedigree and commercial cows, plus followers, giving a total of 850 head.

Dan Tynan was born on the family farm across the road where his brother Sean continues to run a dairy enterprise. When he was bequeathed the nearby farm by his uncle he got the opportunity to build on his "great love for cattle".

Having observed the Limousin breed in France, he believed the cattle had great potential and purchased his first heifers from the late Joe McGrath's Curragrange Herd and from the Canovee Herd of Dick Collins. The first pedigree being born on the farm in March 1985.

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It was not until 1994 that the rapid expansion of the breeding herd took off following the importation of 12 females from France, with further purchases over the following years from Pierre Gardette in France, the Luttrellstown Herd and two stock bulls from the Lanaud Test Station, Justicier, a Guignor son, and Junior, a son of Domino.

Additional land was purchased adjoining and nearby to the original holding. With the exception of a small area of light sandy soil, most of the land is heavy ground, and there is evidence of a considerable amount of drainage being carried out over the years.

A good farm roadway runs for more than a mile across the holding, providing access to the paddocks, where excellent grass management is key to the success of the enterprise, and is aided by extensive housing facilities for wintering.

To-day, Dan Tynan - who strolled around the farm mingling with the hundreds of conference delegates and several hundred farmers who attended the open day - resides in the Isle of Man. The farm is managed by Kevin Bohan, assisted by Paddy Fitzpatrick, Keith Murphy and Jason Greene.

The herd comprises 100 females in the Ardlea Herd; 90 females in the Embryo Elite Herd; with 150 Limousin-cross cows in the commercial herd.

Kevin is convinced of the merits of the Limousin breed.

"The cows are excellent for suckling. It is very hard to get a breed that will produce a good calf and rear it and the Limousin is a bull that can be used on a number of breeds to produce a very saleable animal," he maintained.

Visitors to the farm for the open day must have been impressed by the docility of the animals which were on view is the paddocks running along both sides of the central roadway.

Docile

Kevin is very clear that there is no place in safe farming to-day for the "mad" strain of Limousin that unfortunately was a feature of the breed in the earlier years on some farms and his selection policy has contributed enormously to a more docile animals.

"No . .. . they must be docile. Over the years we have been very severe on culling. If an animal is not docile there is no point in keeping it," he said.

The results were plain to see last week, with the stock completely unruffled by the crowds visiting.

Among the most successful bred on the farm has been Ardlea Tammy, winner of the Junior Female Champion at the European Show in Paris in 2005.

She was also Female Champion and Reserve Overall Limousin Champion at Tullamore the same year, before being sold the following year to the Ironstone Herd in England for €40,000.

Most of the stock produced are sold at under 18 months, either at the weanling stage or young breeding bulls or females for breeding.

The male offspring of the commercial herd are sold as weanlings at 350-450kgs at an average of €2.85/kg. The commercial heifers are used for breeding with embryos or sold to become suckler mothers.

To meet with the increase in demand for polled bulls a polled breeding programme has been introduced. Some of the cows are now running with Roundhill Inspiration and the birth of the first calves, due this autumn, is being eagerly awaited.

Three polled cows have been imported from France for the flushing programme, with calves expected over the next few months.

The bulls are in strong demand from both pedigree and commercial breeders, while some are also standing in AI.

The homebred Ardlea Dan sired in excess of 6,500 calves in Irish herds last year, while his stable mates Elite Forever ET and Elite Flag ET sired almost 2,450.

In the ICBF Herdplus programme, 220 heifers have scored an index value of €94, compared to the national average of €74.

The entire herd genotyped and performance recording compared to 30pc across all breeds.

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