Three generations of the Spillane family are all involved in the 135ac holding made up of four separate parcels with a stocking rate on the milking platform of 1.2 cows/acres.
In addition to Michael and his wife, Sandra and their family — Jack (17), Lucy (15), Nell (14), Heather (12), Emily (10) — Michael’s parents, Sean and Breda, continue to maintain a strong interest in the herd.
The multi-award winning, Mountain Pure Friesian Herd, has been chosen by the IHFA for showcasing at the Pure Friesian Open Day to be held on the farm on Wednesday July 19.
The herd is completely home bred and is build around the offspring of half a dozen cow families — the Aileen, Rosie, Petula, Averil, Dixie, and Gloria families make up most of the herd.
IHFA Services have been availed of with Classification first adopted in 2005 which Michael has described as “an important management tool from which to learn more about developing the herd and making improvements generation after generation”.
He adds: “To me there is an educational benefit to Classifying and it is so important to focus on correct udders and good feet and legs”.
This is reflected in the 77pc of the herd now classified in the top two grades on Conformation, VG/EX in addition, to 14 cows scored Good Plus (GP).
Fertility performance is a key Friesian genetic strength. The Spillane herd has a a calving interval of 367 days with lactation length of 313 days. Almost half of the herd is now made-up of cows in their fourth lactation or older, reflecting the breed’s inherent survival and longevity qualities.
This mature cow group averaged 9,161kgs milk at 3.74pc fat, 3.63pc protein, with 675 kgs milk solids and a calving interval average of 361 days, with SCC of 66.
Mountain Glenalbyn Rosie EX93 5E is the highest classified Rosie family member in the herd.
She has also produced over 5,000 kgs milk solids in eight lactations and has an average lifetime protein of 3.70pc.
Her dam, Mountain Franz Rosie EX, is the great matriarch of the Rosie family with 36 registered female descendants.
The recognition of her value and demand for her genetics was such that 14 sons were sold as breeding bulls.
A son, grandson and great grandson of Rosie all went into AI in 2016, her last year in the herd in her twentieth year.
These were Mountain Basil 11 (FR4079), Mountain Glenalbyn 7 ET (FR2430) and Mountain Martel 24 (FR4003).
Mountain IDS Petula EX93 7E recently attained the IHFA Diamond Award for surpassing 3,000kgs of protein. She is currently in her 12th lactation.
Mountain Bounty Dixie ET EX93 5E recently calved on her eighth lactation, 23 days short of a 365 day calving interval. She was Champion Pure Friesian Cow in-milk at the IHFA All Ireland Awards 2016.
Mountain Frosty Averil EX93 3E is a tremendous production cow with over 47,000 kgs of milk produced in five lactations. She surpassed 10,000 kgs of milk produced in two consecutive lactations and has an average lifetime protein of 3.56pc.
AI bulls that have had a positive impact in the herd through the years include Blackisle Glenalbyn, Holwerda Torello, Barrowvale Martell 12, Piet Adema, Tittenser Hylke, Mr Frosty, Dovea Jubilaris and Lakemead Rancher.
Grassland management is a big priority on the farm with the emphasis of growing and utilising as much high quality, leafy grassland as possible throughout the year.
Limestone soil is a characteristic of the hinterland and allied to good management allows the herd to remain at grass for an expansive grazing year.
Two cuts of pit silage are made per year as the bulk of the winter diet with baled silage harvested when there is surplus cover on paddocks.
Herd health is another top priority with prevention the preferred approach through a regular vaccination programme against BVD, Lepto, IBR and salmonella.
“Cows must calve regularly every year, have correct functional type, produce plenty of milk, go back in-calf easily and remain as trouble-free as possible throughout the year” says Michael when asked about his ideal cow.
PROLIFIC WINNERS ON THE CLUB CIRCUIT
The Mountain Pure Friesian Herd has earned many awards in the Pure Friesian club and Tipperary/Waterford Friesian Club competitions in recent years. These include:
- 2011 — 1st Junior Section, Highest Protein Cow, Highest Protein Herd
- 2012 — Highest Protein Cow, Highest Protein Herd
- 2013 —Highest Protein Cow, Highest Protein Herd
- 2014 —1st Intermediate Section, Highest Protein Cow, Highest Protein Heifer
- 2015 — Highest Protein Herd
- 2016 — Highest Protein Cow, 2nd Senior Section
The herd has represented the Tipperary/Waterford club in the National herds competition twice and finished second in the Spring section last year.
Michael says being involved with the clubs has helped the herd’s progression. The Pure Friesian club has recognised the herd performance with numerous prizes in the Club annual production awards over the years. The herd won the Pure Friesian club Herds Competition last year.
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