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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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40 pedigree Charolais sucklers tick all the boxes for part-time farming Roscommon trio

Pedigree Charolais Cattle

That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, in conversation with Seamus Burke, Granlahan, Ballinlough, County Roscommon, in this week’s Suckler Focus.

“Whilst working full-time as a procurement manager for Aurivo dairy ingredients in Ballaghaderreen, I run a suckler enterprise with my father, James and my brother, Sean.

My grandfather was a farmer and traded in pigs. My dad has expanded the farm over the years, and we have transitioned from a mixed herd of sucklers to a full herd of pedigree Charolais cattle.

We have about 40 suckler cows, close to 100 pedigree Charolais cattle in total across circa 100-acres and over the years, we have kept most of our heifer calves for breeding and have either sold cows and calves together, or we cull older cows.

We have increased the size of our herd in the last ten years and try to keep 4 and 5-star cattle with good breeding.

Breeding programme and calving

Pedigree Charolais cattle are at the centre of our farm, as we like their temperament and conformation.

With us all working full-time, we only use limited AI on our heifers mostly.

BIVOUAC was our bull of choice last year and the year before as he is very easy calving and is producing satisfactory progeny with height.

We also have our own stock bull that we purchased at the Christmas cracker a few years ago.

We aim to calf between the end of March and finish in early May time. Previously, we used to calf in January, but we find that our new calving window reduces ill health and labour with bedding, ect and calves are let outside ASAP.

Replacement policy

On our farm, we like tall square cattle with a good temperament and with a pedigree Charolais, plenty of milk is a bonus.

We tend to keep the 4/5-star heifers if they are of good quality, and the bulls are sold at 15 months mostly for stock bulls, for which prices can vary year on year.

We try to retain the best quality heifers we can and have them in good condition for AI at 24 months or more.

In line with this, we cull older cattle – just depending on how prices are at that time or sell at the mart.

We have one calf per cow per year and do not let our bull out with the herd until about June time roughly.

We are always trying to improve bloodlines and replace bad-performing cows with younger cattle.

Overall, we are happy with the current performance but always looking for better quality heifers and bulls for selling, ect.

In comparison to dairy, suckler farming is a very small margin business that, unless you have a job to prop it up, it is not sustainable full-time.”

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