Pat Flynn started out with 19 cows in 1990 - he's now the owner of the country's No 1 EBI herd; we find out how he did it
Published 09/03/2016 | 02:30
In a world where genetic rankings change almost as often as the weather, and indexes go up and down like a government's ratings, the number one EBI herd in Ireland is becoming ever more remarkable for the fact that it is heading into its third year at the top of the league.
How did Cork's Pat Flynn do it?
In some ways, the Kilworth farmer defies the norms for the breeding world. He started out milking 19 cows 25 years ago - a blink of the eye in breeding terms. Worse again (in breeders' eyes) Flynn never used AI until just five years ago. And yet the Cork farmer has got to a point where he can afford to turn down €10,000 offers for his bull calves.
It is probably his tendency to eschew norms that has put the Coolmahon herd at the top of the EBI rankings.
When almost every other dairy farmer in the country embraced the high yielding potential of the Holstein Friesian throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Flynn stuck to the British Friesian.
The rationale is exemplified by one of his oldest cows. Coolmahon Norton Newway is not just a long lasting EX90 classified cow. The stock-bull sired 13 year-old cow has popped a calf like clock-work during 12 of those 13 years, with her calving date never varying by more than three weeks from her mean of Jan 22.
During that time, she has produced 87t of milk, and an impressive 7t of milk solids. Butterfat averaged 4.25pc and protein 3.85pc during her first 11 lactations, leaving her with an EBI of €210. The day I visit, she is out with the rest of the cows grazing away, and looking like she's cruising through her twelfth lactation (see below).
"She's the type of cow I've always aimed for. My cows walk 1.5 miles to grass, up and down hills, so they need to be hardy," explains Pat.