Goulding wonders... former engineer is now world class pedigree breeder

Matthew Goulding swapped an engineering career for farming and is now producing world class pedigree stock from his base in Kerry

Matthew Goulding and his son David after receive the Champion of Champions award at the recent Angus Show in Tullamore.
Matthew Goulding and his son David after receive the Champion of Champions award at the recent Angus Show in Tullamore.
Rita Goulding pictured with the Hereford Heifer of the Year, 'Gouldingpoll 1 Lucy 641', at this year's National Livestock Show in Tullamore. Photo: Pat Moore
Sheehills Inspiration - the Champion Bull at the recent Belgian Blue Society Premier Show and Sale in Roscrea Mart - with breeder Leanne Searson and judge Derrick Forde

Martin Ryan

Becoming the top breeder in any livestock sector ranks among the most difficult of targets to achieve in agriculture.

The success of Matthew Goulding, a Tralee-based breeder of polled pedigree Hereford and Angus, is surely unique. He is delivering world class results in developing pedigrees, which are not only in huge demand in this country but also keenly sought after by breeders in the US, New Zealand, Denmark and Northern Ireland among other destinations.

Most of the top progeny from the 80-cow suckler herd run by Matthew and his wife Rita on their 180 acre farm at Kilmore near Ballyduff are now purchased for export.

"The best of my bulls and heifers are being exported," says Matthew. "In one sense it does not please me really because some of the best genetics should be kept in the country, but we are getting demand worldwide. Some of the best of my breeding stock are now going back into the top herds in other countries that I purchased foundation stock from in the past."

Matthew grew up on the family's pedigree dairy farm where his brother continues to run a dairy herd. His sister, Doreen Corridan, is a vet and pedigree Charolais breeder in Co Limerick, and is also a livestock breeding expert with Munster AI. Matthew qualified as an engineer and worked for several years for an industrial company based in Tralee.

He always had a love for farming and livestock and gradually built up both his land bank and livestock herd while in full-time off-farm employment.

The closure of the factory caused him to seriously rethink his future and he has never regretted the decision to return to full-time farming.

He choose to concentrate on breeding polled Hereford and Angus.

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"There were no polled of either breed in Ireland and they were becoming popular within the EU," he says, adding that he was determined that the herd would be built on "the best genetics that could be found or that I could afford to purchase.

"Initially I sourced at the local sales in this country, but it was through the purchase of embryos from United States and Canada and Scotland that I got into the top genetics, because I found it was not always possible to buy from the best cow families in Europe at the prices which they were making.

"We started out with the Angus and in my travels through Europe I discovered that Ireland was one of the only countries that was still breeding all horned Herefords. I decided that polled Herefords was the way to go," says Matthew.

"I initially bought the UK Calf Champion in 2007 and then I travelled to Denmark where I bought 10 females and imported embryos from Austria and New Zealand. I bought semen from any country where I could get the breeding that I am looking for.

"The reason I went to the Nordic countries for the polled Hereford is because I found that their main focus is on easy calving and that was a benefit here in Ireland where the Hereford are mainly used on the dairy herd," he says.

This approach has worked out well for him. 'Goulding' male progeny are purchased by Dovea AI, Progressive Genetics AI in addition to the embryo and breeding stock sales to top herd owners internationally.

The Goulding herd made a clean sweep of the female Hereford Champion, Reserve Female Champion and Heifer of the Year accolades at the National Livestock Show at Tullamore last August.

The Goulding Angus stock also had their day in the winner's enclosure at the recent Angus Calf Show at Tullamore winning three classes and securing the reserve male championship with the nine-month old Goulding Macbeth.

The best females in the herd are flushed more than once each year to produce embryos mainly for export.

Unique within the herd was the birth of 13 calves at the same time, the progeny of a heifer calving at two years, plus 12 births from embryos at the same time.

Not content to rest on his laurels, Matthew continues to seek out the best in genetics at every opportunity.

One such opportunity was the recent reduction sale of the Barwise Angus Herd in the Britain at which he paid a substantial five figure sum for Barwise Rambling Rosie, the Royal Show Champion.

She is carrying a bull calf by an Australian bull that cost $90,000 (€58,300) and "we cannot get semen from that bull in this country," he says.

He plans to flush her in the future, saying it is the only way to justify spending that amount of money and he expects the embryos to be in keen demand worldwide.

As to the future he says: "I suppose I am constantly striving to breed a better type of animal. Longevity is a big thing and more functional females that will stay in the herd for longer."

His eldest son, David, is studying Nutritional Science at UCC; Jack is a student of physiotherapy at UL and won an All-Ireland minor football medal with Kerry this year. Darragh is in fifth year at secondary and Declan is starting second level.

"I don't know who is going to farm here in the future. I am still a young man. I want them to get a qualification, build a career, see the world if they want to, and make their own decisions," says Matthew.

'Our philosophy? Never sell something  that you would not purchase yourself'

Matthew Goulding says that two very dynamic patterns have developed in the Angus breed over the last five years. These are:

Very easy calving bulls with at least three generations of low birth weight sires for the dairy maiden.

High quality beef carcase bulls for the commercial beef industry

He says the later sector is witnessing amazing market-share growth and provides the greatest opportunity the breed has ever seen in this country.

"It is vital that these two different markets be kept in the right perspective for the long term prosperity of the Angus breed and we cannot allow ourselves to get caught up in old traps," he says.

His philosophy in business is very clear. "During times of market opportunity, history has demonstrated that breeders sometimes take the path to easiest prosperity and sometimes neglect long term objectives.

"The temptation is great to focus on selling the individual 'great ones' instead of producing the consistent 'good ones' that our commercial industry demands.

"There is no question that the economics of our business is challenging and we strive to maximise the value of our calf crop.

"To achieve this we have one fundamental philosophy - never sell something that you would not purchase yourself," says Matthew.

"Quality is critical in every new opportunity. We should never short change our commercial customers.

"New customers are hard to come by and it is a lot less expensive to keep existing customers satisfied as opposed to cultivating new ones.

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