The Ballyclider herd of Peter Ging & family, Ballyclider, Portlaoise, County Laois, was first pedigree registered with the Irish Friesian Holstein Association in 1980 as it progressed from humble beginnings of 16 cows in the 1970s.
With careful breeding and management, this grew to around 40 cows at the onset of the EU milk quota era.
This restricted expansion of the herd somewhat, and numbers remained relatively stable until quotas were removed.
The herd now, in its current capacity, stands at 190 cows, and the Gings rear approximately 150 calves on-farm every year.
Peter relies heavily on his family, wife, Mary, and children, for support on the farm.
The reputation Ballyclider holds for producing quality dairy animals is widely known, and Peter credits this to the strong base of repeat customers that purchase surplus calved heifers and breeding bulls annually.
Herd production figures
The herd’s 305-day averages were as follows: 8,841 milk kgs with 3.91% fat and 3.37% protein, resulting in 345kg fat and 298kg protein for a combined 644kg solids for 2022.
The Ballyclider herd is split calving, with approximately 65% of animals calving in the spring and the remaining 35% in winter calving.
Peter maintains excellent production figures through the winter on conserved forages such as grass silage, maize silage and wholecrop while supplementing with nuts in the parlour. All crops are grown on the farm.
The land in Portlaoise lends itself to a long grazing period when weather is favourable, although they may be later getting out to graze in the spring than some other areas.
Animals are typically out grazing from early March until early November.
The herd SCC averaged 117 for 2022. Over 1.5 million litres were supplied to their co-op Tirlan last year.
Genetics at Ballyclider
In the current herd, 35 cows have classified EX and 121 VG; this is a just reward for the time and effort Peter has invested into breeding quality cows from strong cow families throughout his farming life.
The herd consists of many cows from the Chris, Una, Darkie and Cocarde families.
Breeding always focuses on good classification, feet & legs, as well as efficient milk production.
Of course, the cows only represent 50% of the breeding equation, and Peter is very selective in the bulls he utilises for breeding.
Current sire selection requires all bulls used to be at least +400kgs for milk and +40kg solids.
Recently, Peter would have used bulls such as King Royal, King Doc, Pharoh, and Lustre P.
Many influential bulls would have been used over the years also, such as Bartonhoo Prosperity, Barold Rock Seal, Ugela Bell, Bert and Convincer.
IHFA and pedigree breeding
He has been a lifelong member of the IHFA and was a founding member of the Laois Offaly Club, which has long boasted a significant membership number and regularly competes in national competitions.
Peter won the national herds competition in 1997 and 2000 for the 50-80 cow or medium herd size section. His contributions to the IHFA resulted in him being elected IHFA President for 2015, which was the 50th Anniversary year of the IHFA.
He served as IHFA chairman previously and has regularly judged shows and herd competitions.
The Ging family will open the gates of their farm on Tuesday, July 11th, 2023, to host the IHFA open day.
There will be a record number of trade stands, the annual national herds competition results and the national stock judging competition.
Chief Executive, Laurence Feeney, looks forward to a day representing the best of the Holstein Friesian breed:
“The open day is the highlight of our year – it reveals the excellent quality of dairy stock we have in this country that have been carefully bred from strong cow families over generations.”
“The modern Holstein Friesian cow is a powerful animal that has it all – fertility, strong milk and solids production, longevity, and functional highly classified linear scores.”
“The Ballyclider herd is a prime example of this. The farm is centrally located off the main M7, which is easily acceptable for farmers and dairy enthusiasts the length and breadth of the country.”
“We look forward to welcoming our longstanding members and their families as well as anyone with an interest in the breed.”
“IHFA staff will be available throughout the day to help with enquiries on grading up your herd or joining the association,” Feeney concluded.
The open day is generously sponsored by Tirlán and FBD, and the herd’s competition is sponsored by Greenvale Animal Feeds.