Farm Ireland

Monday 21 May 2018

'I am a complete believer in Charolais'

Beef breeder John Power says Irish Charolais can compete with the best in Europe

Charolais bulls for finishing at 16 months on John Power’s farm in Clonea, Co Waterford
Charolais bulls for finishing at 16 months on John Power’s farm in Clonea, Co Waterford

Martin Ryan

Performance in the commercial herd is hugely inmportant for pedigree bull customers and it would be hard to find a Charolais breeder with more confidence in the breed's quality than Waterford-based John Power.

"I have been at it for 25 years now, and I am a complete believer in the Charolais.

"If I can get a 400kg carcase under 16 months - and get all the bonus and quality benefits - that is what the industry wants and is good for the producer," he says.

The proof is certainly in the performance of the progeny of the 200 cow suckler herd on his farm at Clonea which belies the general perception of Charolais as the large heavy carcase which is being heavily penalised by the industry.

Almost all of the progeny are now being finished as young bulls under 16 months and heifers under 22 months.

The majority of the cows in the herd are Limousin cross, with a small number of Simmental cross. Up to seven Charolais stock bulls are kept on the farm.

The bulls are very carefully selected with particular scrutiny of the terminal traits which John admits has been critical to both the early finishing and very low mortality.

Mortality is 2pc or less "because all the cows are scored for condition are fed on a diet relative to the result with the higher score cows fed straw on alternate days," he says.

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Carcase weight

Some 90 heifers are due to go to the factory this week and there will be very few other than E and U grade among them.

Last year, 75pc of the bulls were killed under 16 months at an average carcase weight of 388kgs with a grade average of U=.

The remaining 25pc were killed at 20 months at an average carcase weight of 455kgs, with a grade average of U+ after being finished off grass.

The heifers delivered similar results with 25pc being killed at 16 months, at an average carcase weight of 320kgs with a grade average of R+.

The remaining 75pc were killed at 22 months at an average carcase weight of 385kgs, with a grade average of U-.

The majority of the Charolais stock bulls on the farm are five star rated.

In recent years, John has focused more on selecting easier calving bulls.

This has helped to keep mortality very low and reduce veterinary bills.


Four bulls have performed exceptionally well for John. They are Lisnagre Gavin Et, a son of Oldstone Egbert out of Major dam; Laheens Evan, a son of Lyonsdemesne Tzar out of CF 52 dam; Carraigabruise Emperor, a son of Ashleigh Admiral out of an Indurain dam; and Caltun Echo, a son of CF 52 out of an Indurain dam.

“I could not ask for much more from any of those four bulls,” says John — who has a particular liking for the CF52 bloodlines which he describes as excellent.

It goes without saying that he is also a highly focussed stockman and management on the farm is of an exceptionally high standard. His believes that the Irish Charolais can match the best in Europe.

“I think that the present quality of the Charolais in Ireland is far ahead of anything that they have in the UK because they appear to have lost out on the confirmation of the animals with the larger carcases.  I go for the better conformation in a slightly smaller carcase,” he says.

Indo Farming