Why this dairy family turned to pedigree cows after depopulation

Top brass: Ireland South MEP, Sean Kelly who performed the official opening of the IHFA Open Day with Patrick Gaynor, President IHFA; Henry and Marie O’Keeffe; Charles Gallagher, CEO, IHFA, and Sean Crowley, Cork IHFA Club.
Top brass: Ireland South MEP, Sean Kelly who performed the official opening of the IHFA Open Day with Patrick Gaynor, President IHFA; Henry and Marie O’Keeffe; Charles Gallagher, CEO, IHFA, and Sean Crowley, Cork IHFA Club.

The sweltering heat was tempered by a gentle cooling breeze on the hottest day of 2019 for nearly 3,000 farmers who flocked to the picture perfect setting to view the Radney Holstein herd at the IHFA National Open Day in north Cork last Thursday.

The event, hosted by Henry and Marie O'Keeffe and family on their farm at Knockilla, Freemount, home of the Radney Holstein Herd, attracted the largest attendance in recent years for the annual event.

Winners: Robert and Sylvia Helen, Eedy Herd, Co. Cork; Damian Wynne, Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan, and Joan Jackson, Borkilbeg Herd, Co. Wicklow were winners in the Under 80 Cows Section of the National Herds Contest
Winners: Robert and Sylvia Helen, Eedy Herd, Co. Cork; Damian Wynne, Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan, and Joan Jackson, Borkilbeg Herd, Co. Wicklow were winners in the Under 80 Cows Section of the National Herds Contest

The herd established in 1987 recorded an average of 697kg milk solids in 2018 from a herd of 90 cows, of which 76pc have been classified VG/EX.

It received the RDS Champion of Champions Award in 2018 in recognition of the contribution which the Odetta Cow Family has made to Holstein breeding in the country.

"My father had built up a good herd which, unfortunately, was undone following depopulation," said Henry.

"In hindsight it turned out to be a major turning point as we decided to establish a pedigree registered herd upon re-stocking," he added about the herd which has become distinguished nationally for their high protein and longevity traits.

Stephen Laffey, Aoibhinn Screene, Sarah Grady, Michael Healy, and Donal Coppinger (all from Menlough, Co Galway) with their awards in the stockjudging.
Stephen Laffey, Aoibhinn Screene, Sarah Grady, Michael Healy, and Donal Coppinger (all from Menlough, Co Galway) with their awards in the stockjudging.

The official opening was performed by EU election poll topper, Sean Kelly, MEP, Ireland South, who said the uncertainty about Brexit is going to continue until at least October 31 and possibly beyond .

"We can only get on with it and hope that it finishes out well in the end," he said.

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Kevin Downing, ICBF, described the cows on view as "a very balanced herd from top to bottom. You could not get a more balanced herd than what you are seeing here today.

"They are giving a super performance. The result of a lot of a huge amount of hard work by Henry is what you are seeing here today. It is great to see a herd with such performance" he said.

Charles Gallagher, CEO, IHFA thanked the O'Keeffe family for hosting the event, held for the first time in North Cork. "What you are seeing here today is a different type of cow for a different region of the country. The hallmark of the herd is the high protein and longevity" he said.

"To have over 80 cows VG or EX is a fantastic achievement with 43pc of the herd in their fourth lactation or greater and the herd is in the top 15pc in the country for EBI," he added.

First lactation heifer secures top price of €3,300 at Open Day sale

Contestants  from the Kingdom County dominated at the IHFA Inter-Club Stock Judging, with winners in each of the three sections of the contest.

The Kerry IHFA Club team of Emer Kennelly, Daniel Curtin, Kieran Savage won the senior stockjudging section, while Jack Goulding, Padraic Broderick, Katie Kenneally took the honours in the 16 - 18 years section of the contest in which Jack Goulding was joint inidividual winner. Muiris Harty, Ronan O'Mahony, Oisin Cronin were placed third in the 12-18 years section.

Over 27 years

1 Kerry - Emer Kennelly, Daniel Curtin, Kieran Savage 2 Breffni Oriel - Trevor Williamson, Andrew Gilliand, Karl Colton 3 Carlow Kilkenny - Padraic Murphy, Eamon Coleman, Aileen Murphy

Highest Individual Karl Colton (Breffni Oriel)

16 - 18 years

1 Kerry - Jack Goulding, Padraic Broderick, Katie Kenneally

2 North Eastern - Jack Mennis, Mathew Flanagan, Thea Flanagan

3 Carlow Kilkenny - Simon Lanigan, Doirean Mulhall, Fabian Jacob

Highest Individual Michael Healy (Galway) & Jack Goulding (Kerry)

12 - 18 years

1 Cork - Sarah Shannon, Gabby Nagle, Donncha Lynch

2 Galway - Sarah Grady, Aoibhinn Screene, Stephen Laffey

3 Kerry - Muiris Harty, Ronan O'Mahony, Oisin Cronin

Highest Individual: Sarah Grady (Galway)

A first lactation grand-daughter to the 'Queen' of the herd, topped the sale of stock from the Radney Holstein Herd when she sold for €3,300 at the draft sale of stock held in conjunction with the IHFA National Open Day.

26 month old, Radney Alex Odetta is projected to yield over 8000kg of milk at 4.03pc butterfat and 3.55pc protein in her first lactation which commenced on March 22, 2019.

The price topper - a daughter of Radney Rxo Odetta EX90 and by the sire, Cogent Peak Alex. with an EBI of €224 - is a grand-daughter of Radney Qur Odetta EX93.

She has been designated as the 'Queen' of the herd, having yielded in excess of 11,500kg at 3.88pc butterfat and 3.75pc protein with an SCC of 53 in her sixth lactation.

She has bred an outstanding line of progeny which have made a huge contribution to the development of the Radney herd.

There was strong interest in the 54 cows, heifers, bulls and calves, which were put through the ring under the hammer of Cork livestock auctioneer, Denis Barrett.

Clearance

Henry O'Keeffe, whose herd has become widely recognised for the high protein and longevity characteristics which his selective breeding has poduced, said that he was "very pleased" with the results and a very high clearance of the stock offered.

Five animals sold for over €3,000, with a further three selling for €2,900 each.

Two heifers, due to calve in February 2020, shared the second highest price selling for €3,200 each.

January 2018 born, Radney Art Ostritch is out of the dam, Radney Vry Ostritch and by the sire, Coolnasoon Art.

February 2018 born, Radney Ronaldo Deborah is out of the dam, Radney Lsr Deborah and by the sire Oldcastletown Ronaldo which has an EBI of €293.

A five-month old bull calf, Radney Crissy out of Radney Dut Odetta EX91 and by the sire, Oldcastletown Ronaldo sold for €1,700.

Nine-month old heifer, Radney Levi Deborah, out of Radney Raphael Deborah and by the sire Radney Levi 5, sold for €1,600

A three month old heifer calf, Radney Lwr Odetta which sold for €1,000 was donated by the O'Keeffe Family with the proceeds going in full to Marymount Hospice Palliative Care.

Indo Farming


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