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Friday 24 November 2017

Clongowes school to sell off 700-strong Holstein dairy herd

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Clongowes Wood College, Kildare's exclusive Jesuit boys boarding school, is to sell off all of its 700 pedigree Holstein dairy animals in a series of dispersal sales in the next two months.

The move is part of a plan to switch from winter milk production to a more seasonal supply structure with a spring-calving herd milk.

The college plans to replace its Holstein herd with high EBI cows that are better suited to seasonal milk production, according to Clongowes Wood finance director Ray Kenny.

"We feel the future of the farm and college would be better served by changing to a seasonal milk production system in order to exploit the advantages of the dairy market post-2015 when quotas go," he told the Farming Independent.

The college has a 1.3m litre liquid milk quota that is supplied to Glanbia and Mr Kenny said that if the opportunity arose, the farm could expand milk production further in the coming years.

The college owns 350ac of land on the outskirts of Clane, Co Kildare and leases a further 50ac.

"We want to continue farming because the farm produces income to help the school run a bursary scheme for boys from economically and socially disadvantaged areas," he added.

"We currently have 37 boys who attend the college, who are supported by the Alberto Hurdato bursary scheme and do not pay fees."

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The herd is one of the biggest dairy herds to be sold in Ireland ever and will be handled by auctioneer Michael Taaffe.

Mr Taaffe refused to speculate on the price he expected the herd to realise but insiders maintained it could be worth in excess of €1m.

The first of three sales will take place on Tuesday, March 19 and will continue on Saturday, April 6 and Wednesday, April 10.

The first sale will consist of 150 cows and 80 heifer calves, while the second will include the remaining 150 milking cows and 70 heifer calves. The final sale will consist of served heifers, as well as bulling and maiden heifers.

The milking cows will consist of a mixture of spring and autumn calving cows. Large numbers of the cows have been graded as excellent (EX) or very good (VG) and the herd includes several award winners in Kildare and NEFBC herd competitions.

The cows for sale have been sired by bulls such as Shottle, Golwyn, Talent, Oman, Eight, Bolton, Legend, Mr Sam, Minister, Baxter and Damion.

The heifers for sale were sired by Iota, Lavanguard, Bluesky, Damion, Seven and Zebra.

Irish Independent