Jimmy And Enda McGee
THE father and son team of Jimmy and Enda McGee are well-known producers of Rolls-Royce calves for live shipping, with a herd of more than 200 cows near Glasson, Athlone.
The nucleus of their herd has been Limousin-cross cows but there are also many other continental-cross cows around; the common feature of these cows is their pelvic width. In recent years the McGees used Blonde d'Aquitaine bulls on the first-calving heifers to breed herd replacements, and these Blonde crosses are now in the herd.
"The Blonde crosses have nice calves, but the cows take extra minding or they will run down in condition. The strain we used have adequate milk and are good mothers, but the weanlings are not really any better than the rest of the herd," said Enda.
Over the years the McGees have strived to minimise calving problems. They feed hay before calving, plus a little soya. They try to get the cows to exercise, to make them fit for calving. However, this year, C-sections are higher than normal, with six in the first 100 calvings. Overall, they are moving from autumn and spring calving to spring-only calving.
"Our autumn-born weanlings cost more to produce but are not making anything extra at selling time," Enda claims.