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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘If you have no milk in your females, you have nothing’ – suckler farmer

The North East Simmental Club will host its second annual commercial breeding heifer sale in the coming week.

16 in-calve, 22 maidens and 10 weanling heifers, will go under the hammer at Ballyjamesduff Mart (export-approved centre) on Wednesday, October 21st at 7 pm.

This sale was resurrected in 2019 from years ago following interest from club members to provide a platform for local suckler farmers to sell their breeding females.

Pre-inspection process  

Speaking to That’s Farming, Paul McArdle, club chairman, explained that while entry numbers for this year’s sale are “not very big, but quality will be exceptional”.

The club has individually visually inspected all entries, a process completed by esteemed club members and renowned breeders, Sean Brady, and Sean McGarry.

All heifers must display Simmental characteristics and carry SI or SIX as their breed code.

“Only heifers of superior quality were selected for the sale. This year it is of note that most of the heifers are genotyped.”

Online bidding facility

The club will give €100 to the purchaser of the highest-priced heifer in each class.

The sale will be held under Covid-19 measures, with a limited number of ringside spaces available.

Potential buyers can avail of the mart’s online bidding facility, by clicking here – Interested parties are urged to register without delay and submit an application for approval.

Backbone of suckler herds

McArdle, added: “For many years, I believe the Simmental breed has gone from strength to strength.”

“We can see within our own club, the backbone of any Simmental suckler herd is the Simmental or Simmental-cross cow.”

“Simmental genetics have come so far; Simmentals can add muscle and shape whilst still retaining the milk element for the suckler herd.”

“Some farmers are also still in the market for heifers to meet BDGP requirement; this sale is an opportunity to fulfil your numbers.”

Why Simmentals?

John Kingham of Tateetra and Rathmore Farms is proof that a Simmental-cross cow is a recipe to produce top-end cattle – both bulls and heifers.

On a farm visit, he pointed out that there is Simmental blood in 90% of his cows. He finds that these cows cross “exceptionally well” with other breeds.

He also runs three Simmental bulls across the herd, which comprises close to 500 cows.

Kingham’s breeding physiology is simple: “If you have no milk in your females, you have nothing.”

‘Tick all the boxes’

The breed is testament to the success story of young farmer, John Nixon, Fortland, Kilnaleck, Co. Cavan.

He told this publication: “We farm in excess of 80 sucklers and have had Simmentals for years. We purchased cattle at the sale last year and are exceptionally happy with them.”

“Simmentals tick all the boxes – they are good calvers, are easy to manage, are docile and good milkers.”

“If you are selling either weanlings or stores, Simmentals produce golden-coloured progeny, which are very popular among export buyers and those for further feeding.”

“A Simmental cull cow has the ability to carry weight, with many making €2.00/kg+ in marts in many cases.”

“This leaves you with a good salvage value for your end-product. You can use that money to purchase springing heifers. We prefer to purchase springing heifers are they will enter the suckler system rapidly.” Nixon concluded.

Strong pre-sale interest

John Tevlin, manager of Ballyjamesduff Co-operative Livestock Mart, said: “There is always great interest in the sale with repeat buyers returning from across the country, including the north.”

“They seem to be more than happy in the way that the Simmental breed is performing in their herds, especially given its maternal traits. The breed has proven itself and stood the test of time.”

“There is strong pre-sale interest, and the fact entries are pre-selected by the club reassures buyers, signalling that they are worth travelling for.”

“We are urging interested parties to register on MartEye without delay and do not wait until the last minute. It is important to complete all sections of the application form, with contact information and a herd number.” Tevlin concluded.

More information

To access a sales catalogue or view photos of entries, see the society’s website or the club’s Facebook here.

For further information, contact:

  • Sean Brady – 087-6406186;
  • Sean McGarry – 086-3914632;
  • Ballyjamesduff Mart – 049-8544483.
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