That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, in conversation with the Barlow family, who discuss growing their Gurtavoher Angus herd from humble beginnings and a special production sale at Tipperary Town Mart LTD on Saturday, September 23rd, 2023, as part of our Suckler Focus series.
The herd will offer for sale, its entire crop of 2021-born heifers, and other females. The sale will comprise approximately 30 pedigree Aberdeen Angus heifers. With over 25 years’ worth of breeding, this group of heifers represents what the family describe as a “rare opportunity to acquire some top-class pedigree genetics”.
A selection of stock, including the prize-winning Clooncarne Pellet, the sire of the majority of heifers will be able for viewing on the day of the sale.
Gurtavoher Angus Herd
“Gurtavoher Angus Herd was established in the nineties and we chose Angus at the time as a result of Angus beef being marketed as a branded product rather than being sold into intervention.
We began with the purchase of four pedigree heifers at Edgeworthstown Mart in Longford from the Drumhass Herd.
On that day, we bought the champion heifer of the show and sale, a heifer by Cortronroe Ernie, while the other heifers on the day were sired by Drumdeevin Dancer and Bohey Jasper.
In the early days, we sourced other females from the Steil, Lawsonsford, Knockmountagh and Knockadrinan herds.
These were the foundation stock for the herd, which now has over sixty cows.
When selecting a heifer, we place great focus on the traditional, feminine Angus traits., a feminine head with nice hairy ears, good conformation and good feet and legs.
It is essential to search for these feminine traits to ensure the heifer will develop into a good breeding cow.
Our breeding policy has focused on producing a quality calf of reasonable size whilst still maintaining the traditional Angus trait of easy calving.
We have to be careful to balance calf quality and calf size as many of our customers for bulls are dairy farmers.
Calf quality for the dairy farmer is of paramount importance as there will be more emphasis on this in the future.
The cows are all autumn calving, having switched from a spring-calving system.
This has been of major benefit in terms of calf health, and also cows calve on their own as they are fit from being outside.
They calve in their natural environment and the labour is seriously reduced.
The autumn-born bull calf has the advantage of size when it comes to sale season.
Being of good size allows bulls have the capability of running with the cow herd, after being with the heifers, therefore, making the bulls more saleable in the spring time.
Up to 2015, some top-quality AI sires were used. Traditional bloodlines such as Shankill Max, Bohey Jasper, Drumdeevin Dancer & Edmundo of Ballinulty and more recent genetics such as Goulding Jumbo King, Friarstown Dan Carter, Netherton Americano & Liss Brendan were heavily used.
In recent years, we have purchased quality herd sires in Carrick-on-Shannon.
The first of these was Castlelough Midnight Brandy who was a prize winner on the summer show circuit claiming six first prizes, two breed championships and first at the National Calf Show.
Brandy topped the sale when selling for 3900 and bred some exceptional stock for us. He is the maternal grandsire of several heifers on sale.
Moreover, in more recent years, we secured a Beryl Jamey-sired bull, Clooncarne Pellet, who has excelled in the showring.
Pellet has won a first prize at the National Calf Show in 2018 and a first prize at the FBD National Livestock Show in Tullamore in 2019 amongst many other accolades.
Pellet is a bull that ticks all the boxes for us, easy calving, short gestation and produces quality calves, capable of excelling at shows and sales.
Other stock bulls that have been used include, Coolcran Nephin, Bunlahy Philadelphia, Ernehill Shot, Lecarrow Roger and Mong Valiant.
The herd has done exceptionally well at sales and summer shows in recent years.
We have taken first prizes at Munster Club Finals in Dualla over the last two years with Tracy, Very Sassy (lot 25 in our fortcoming sale) and Venice.
Gurtavoher bulls scooped two of the three championships at Kilmallock spring sales in 2022.
These championships were followed by some high-priced sellers, selling from 3450 to 4300. The herd also won 2 breed championships and 3 breed reserve championships at summer shows throughout 2023.
Our sale comprises 28 pedigree maiden heifers, the majority of which were born in September 2021.
Most are sired by Clooncarne Pellet, a first prize winner at the National Calf Show & FBD National Livestock Show.
The heifers consigned in our forthcoming sale have been vaccinated for blackleg and lepto and they have been genotyped.
All heifers will also be scanned correct and suitable for breeding. Export testing and off-farm collection can be arranged post-sale.
This sale is marking our silver jubilee of breeding. When we started off on the pedigree breeding journey, we would have loved to have come across an opportunity like this, to get the pick of a crop of heifers of such quality and proven genetics.
The sale catalogue and pictures of the entries and their dams can be found on www.bulls.ie.
We expect that the heifers for sale will make excellent mothers and have the capability of breeding high-quality stock. We wish the purchasers every success with their stock.
The sale will take place at Tipperary Town Cattle Mart on Saturday, September 23rd, 2023, at 1 pm.”
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