To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Kilbride Farm Simmentals will hold a sale of heifers from its top cow families, many of which they would not normally sell.
The Robson family established the herd with four German heifers as part of the first importation of Simmentals into Northern Ireland.
“We are the only herd remaining from that original importation. One of these heifers turned out to be a half-sister to Scottish Neff, probably the most famous and influential Simmental in the world,” they explained to That’s Farming.
“There was a very strong demand from America, and the first few crops of calves were mostly exported there.”
Kilbride Farm Simmentals
During the 70s, they mostly used AI with “very good success” coming from the French bulls, Etandard and Terrible, and the Swiss bull, Ami.
They built up the herd from within and a few female purchases, the most notable of which was Carn Eunice. Over 50% of the herd are now part of the Eunice family.
“In 1980, we purchased Orage from France. He put the herd on the map. His progeny dominated shows and sales and won many performance tests.”
“Orage increased the average 400-day weight by over 100kg. In 1992, we took two of his first sons to the famous Perth bull sales. Lester and Lewis, sold for 5,000 and 4,500gns.”
“Two years later, a son of Lester became the first bull to weigh over 800kg at 400 days. He went to Perth and sold for a then breed record price of 8,000gns.”
In 1985, Orage gave the family their first Perth champion, K F Perry, and he changed hands for 6,000gns. Over the years, they have produced a remarkable seven supreme champions at Perth/Stirling.
“We have always had a ‘type’ of animal we wished to breed and have tried to use our own stock bulls rather than AI.”
Bulls such as Milnafua Graduate, Moncur Sensation, Seaview Prince Charming, Cairnview Snazzy, and Crugmelyn Brenin have had a major influence on the herd, producing successful bulls at sales but also excellent females.
“The use of stock bulls has kept the herd more consistent. Furthermore, we regularly retain semen from our best young bulls before we sell them.”
“We have been lucky that most of our stock bulls have blended together with bulls selling up 22,000gns.”
Agricultural shows and AI bulls
The show circuit was very important to the family. Again, they were very successful with many male and female champions at the RUAS.
“We had the first Simmental to win the interbreed at the RUAS, as well as the male and reserve male champion at the Royal Show in England.”
In 2000, the family decided to stop showing to focus on commercial traits and particularly high herd health as they found this was becoming much more important to buyers.
Their high health status enabled them to supply bulls to many AI companies and pedigree herds, who “could buy with confidence”.
“Many of these bulls have bred very well, as can be seen by the percentage of cattle in sale catalogues with Kilbride Farm breeding.”
The herd is known worldwide, with semen sold back to the breed’s roots in Germany and Switzerland and semen and embryos sold as far away as Australia and New Zealand.
“We have dabbled with polling for over 30 years. In 2013, we purchased a tremendous bull calf at just three-months-old in Denmark. He had the benefit of being homozygous polled.”
“This bull was Sneumgaard Imperator PP. He quickly became one of our top sires producing easy calved, easy fleshing, fast-growing progeny with great conformation and polled.”
“He is now a trait leader for five different traits. We have sold two sons to AI stations, and his sons and daughters are in high demand.”
Kilbride Farm Simmentals: 50th-anniversary sale
“There are daughters by various of our top stock bulls in the sale from our top cow families with generations of breeding behind them. They range from in-calf heifers to yearlings.”
The sale will be a timed auction from August 19th to 21st on Marteye in conjunction with Ballymena Mart.
You can find details on how to register to bid on the Marteye app and website. Also, you can view a catalogue and videos of entries on the farm’s website, Marteye, Facebook and Instagram.
“Visitors are very welcome to come and view the heifers on our farm presale. They have been prepared naturally with no washing or grooming to give potential purchasers confidence in what they see.”
“All photographs and videos have been taken in the field by ourselves,” they concluded.