Wednesday 28 September 2016

First Holstein open day set to be big draw for farmers

Published 15/06/2016 | 02:30

Maeve Carty and John Stanford representing AIB with Edel Forde (IHFA Cork) and Orla and Tommy Screene with their children, Aoibhinn and Ronan to announce the IHFA National Open Day.
Maeve Carty and John Stanford representing AIB with Edel Forde (IHFA Cork) and Orla and Tommy Screene with their children, Aoibhinn and Ronan to announce the IHFA National Open Day.

Progressive breeding resulting in high production is one of the hallmarks of the Windfield Holstein herd which makes them stand out among dairy stock.

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The achievements will be among the key interests for up to 5,000 of the top dairy farmers in the country to focus on when they travel west to the Screene family farm at Menlough for the first ever hosting of the IHFA National Holstein Open Day in Co Galway on Wednesday, July 6.

The programme for the day will include a sale of progeny from the herd to be conducted by Taaffe Auctioneers in the evening. Hosts Tommy and Orla Screene and family members, Aoibhinn and Ronan, of the Windfield Holstein Friesians exemplify how progressive breeding using IHFA services help the establishment of an efficient, productive and robust herd, built on the strength of cow families.

The Windfield herd comprised of 65 Pedigree Registered Holstein Friesian cows with a further 60 young stock on the farm of 90ac owned and 60ac leased near Menlough where the family have been farming since the 1890s.

Prior to developing the Holstein herd, Tommy's father JP ran a mixed farming enterprise with some shorthorn cows.

Windfield Wade Rosina EX93 5E is in her 12th lactation, with a lifetime production to date of 123.8 tonnes of milk, and an average calving interval of 309 days, while Windfield Merci Mary EX94 7E is now in her 10th lactation. Both IHFA Diamond Award cows have produced over 3,000kg of protein.

They are among six cows in the herd which have been adorned with Diamond and Gold awards - four of which have been bred from the well-known AI sire GMI.

Tommy believes that the longevity has come from the strength that has been bred into the cows. "They are not big cows, but they have a strength running through them rather than a frail frame," he said.

"A lot of it is down to the choice of sire that we have been using as a breeding policy. I found that GMI and ASE gave very good progeny. It has worked very well for me," he added.

The overall current herd average production is 1,870 gallons, 3.83pc fat, 3.50pc protein.

There are now 22 EX, 33 VG and five GP animals in the herd. Longevity is a key aspect borne through with mature cows making up a significant proportion within the herd.

Careful sire selection has delivered positive results in terms of both production and functional type conformation, with 100pc AI usage continuing to this day.

Breeding emphasis is focused on strong functional cows, with wide capacious bodies to optimise grass and silage DM intakes.

Well-attached udders with good legs and feet are a priority due to long winters on concrete.

Selection for functional traits allows longevity potential to be expressed. The family has surplus breeding stock for sale and Tommy notes that repeat buyers return to source heifers and breeding bulls.

Many of the prominent cow families descend from purchases made by JP Screene. One such family is the 'Irene' established by Windfield Com Irene by Galtee Combat.

The 'Katie' family represents impressive depth of breeding and fertility. There are over 23 members of this family in the herd.

Windfield Katie by Blakemore Bursar is the family matriarch, her Callow Willow daughter was among the first cows in the herd to classify excellent (EX). The economic efficiency of milk production from the herd facilitated ­additional farm development over the years through the purchase of land and quota, new and revamped farm buildings and investment in modern technology.

Both manufacturing and liquid milk is supplied to Arrabawn Co-op.

Herd health is of paramount importance and forms a major plank of overall farm management. Vaccination against lepto, salmonella and IBR is carried out and the herd has enrolled in the Johne's disease pilot programme.

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