HomeBeef500-cow farm’s sale of 152 heifers to ‘suit every person’s pocket’
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500-cow farm’s sale of 152 heifers to ‘suit every person’s pocket’

That’s Farming, speaks to John Kingham, the manager of one of Ireland’s largest suckler farms. John updates readers on the farm’s progress and Tateetra and Rathmore Farms’ upcoming sale. See photos of some entries below.

Tateetra and Rathmore Farms, a 500-cow suckler enterprise in County Louth and County Meath, will hold its annual heifer sale next month.

152 heifers, including 45 halter-trained entries, will come under the hammer at Carnaross Mart, County Meath, on Friday, October 1st, at 6 pm.

Tateetra and Rathmore Farms’ sale

There will be both online bidding through LSL Auctions’ and ringside bidding in line with government guidelines.

Kingham, who joined the farm as an assistant manager in October 2017 and became the manager in January 2018, told That’s Farming:

“There will be a mixture of all different breeds to suit every person’s pocket. There will be Limousin, Charolais, Simmental, Belgian Blue, and Shorthorn.”

The breeds on the farm include Limousin, Charolais, Belgian Blue, and Shorthorn, with Limousin and Simmental-crosses being the most prominent cow-type.

Since his interview with That’s Farming last year, Kingham has introduced new breeding lines from Belgium by purchasing some red roan bulls and red roan Belgian Blue heifers.

The farm runs 19 stock bulls in total alongside their AI programme for choice. These breeds of bulls include Limousin, Charolais, Belgian Blue, Shorthorn, and Simmental.

Some of these main AI sires he uses include the following Simmentals: Coose Jericho- P, Bosahan Dynamo and Popes Grandsalm.

“Calving starts during the first week in October with the first bunch. We have 150 to 160 calving down as heifers in the autumn, that we provide to our customers,” John Kingham told That’s Farming.

Preparations

John has put over six weeks of preparations in so far for the upcoming sale.

“It took much time and effort to get the herd to where it is today. It is to try now to reap the rewards for the hard work we put in.”

“All heifers have been on meal, are vaccinated twice with Bovipast and dosed with Cydectin 10%.”

“We get Carnaross Mart set up the night before the sale. R.G Anderson Limited looks after all lorries for the sale which transports the cattle to the mart.”

“We hope to have all the heifers ready from 3:30 pm with viewing from 3:30 pm onwards and the sale at 6 pm.”

John explained how he selects the breeding females that went under the hammer at its annual heifer sale.

“I go through 230 heifer calves on the farm. I try to pick up the best of the best that I think should go end for top-end breeding, so they breed a good suckler herd for the future.”

Breeding stock prices

John commented on the current demand and prices for breeding stock.

“The current trend at the minute is phenomenal, and interest is high for breeding stock. So, it is great to see the suckler farmer back on top of the table where he has not been.”

“There is an interest there, and it is great to see it. However, you cannot price a top-end quality heifer now; she is selling very well.”

John reflected on the farm’s 2020 heifer sale and how trade faired out on the day.

“Thankfully, we were very lucky with the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions last year. They were not as tight as they were earlier in the year.”

“152 heifers averaged €1,350 and the top price last year was €4,100 for Rumour. She was our own Limousin-cross heifer.”

“I have more lovely roan heifers coming again this year; the same quality as her.”

Demand

John explained what he believes is driving demand for his cattle.

“Our cattle are all home-bred, and there are no movements on their certificates. They are all bred out of top-quality sires and dams.”

“I buy the best of the best. So, I am producing a top-end breeding female that will go on and breed better for the next person again.”

“We have a high percentage of repeat customers. There have been more repeat customers back, and there is high demand. I hope to see lots of farmers at the sale on October 1st,”

Future of Irish suckler farming

John hopes to keep pushing the suckler herd “onwards and upwards, and keep quality high”.

“Hopefully, we can get better prices for our product. At the end of the day, it is simple: no farmers, no food, no future.”

“There is a massive future for suckler farming in Ireland because the world’s population is growing at a massive rate. You have to look to the future and cannot just look towards tomorrow. So, we have to keep breeding grass-fed Irish beef.”

“If you keep quality high, you will get paid for your top-end quality calves. Quality is key; if you keep the quality high, you will do ok.”

“I think there should be better payments for suckler farmers because the dairy farmer is getting bigger and bigger.”

“Suckler farming is a niche market. If we can put ourselves into a niche market and try to sell ourselves better, I would say we could do alright.”

Proposed suckler cow cap

John shared his opinion on the proposed suckler cow cap as part of the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme.

“The proposed suckler cow cap is a waste of time; it needs to be better for the farmer.”

“They [the government] should be paying €200/cow or something similar to that. I think if you pay per cow, you will have a better future in suckler farming. So, I think €300/cow payment in Budget 2022 will work.”

“The Irish government is the biggest challenge we face. We have no one to speak up for us, or back us, give us advice, and that is what we need.”

“We need someone there to give us advice, such as Bord Bia and these state agencies, to wake up and do a lot better than they are.” the farm manager concluded.

Photos 
Further reading

Read more Suckler Focus profiles.

To share your story, email Catherina Cunnane, editor of That’s Farming, – catherina@thatsfarming.com

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