Showcasing Holstein excellence
Thousands of visitors travelled to the recent Holstein Friesian event in Limerick, reports Martin Ryan
It was in the late 1960s that Jimmy Hannan decided to leave the men's outfitting business in Limerick city to take up full-time farming nearby on 22 acres.
Now, the 80-year-old explains how he worked hard to extend the modest farm to the 700ac, including 150ac rented lands, mixed-operation split between dairy and beef that it is today.
Hosting the Irish Holstein Friesian Association National Open Day - one of the largest events on the breeding calendar - was a proud occasion for the farmer after decades spent building up the Lisnalty Holstein herd at the farm in Crecora, Co Limerick into one of the most successful in the region.
"I bought the farm, with a Land Commission house on it, for £2,200 in 1965 when I got married to Marie," he recalled, after crossing the Shannon from Clonlara to establish a dairy farm on the fertile lands at Lisnalty, Crecora in the shadow of the hurling village of Patrickswell.
"I worked hard to build it up from dairy farming, but I could not have done it without Marie's help - she worked hard too - and we had the health and luck to do," said Jimmy.
Today his son Paul manages the 110 cow dairy herd, split 60/40 between the autumn and spring calving to supply 1.2 million litres to Kerry Co-Op liquid milk division.
The herd average yield is 12,500 kgs at 3.70pc butterfat and 3.20pc protein. Another son John runs a beef enterprise with a herd of 60 Charolais and Limousin cross sucklers and 150 cattle finished as beef, as well as a successful baled silage contracting business.
The herd has been a consistent winner of regional and national awards as well as numerous show rosettes over the decades, success that was further enhanced when the 2015 National Herd Award for herds over 70 cows was presented to Paul at the open day.