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‘I have seen some Roan-coloured cattle sell for huge money’

At the age of 28, Kieran Flatley has become the youngest president in the Irish Shorthorn Society’s history.

The Flatley family, Co. Kilkelly have a long-standing association with the breed, running a herd under the Glann/Glannaven prefix.

Kieran’s father bred Shorthorns before he purchased his own in 2002 at a Shannonside sale that was held annually in Kilfenora. He has bred them with success ever since.

0ver 50 suckler cows  

The Flatleys have a commercial suckler herd at home along with some pedigree Shorthorns, using all AI. Kieran’s two brothers, Christopher and Adrian, are farming too.

Kieran farms 40 commercial cows and up to 15 pedigree breeding females.

Shorthorns offer many advantages to farmers striving to run profitable enterprises. They are an effective suckler cow that is easy calving, maternal and docile.

“Colour doesn’t bother me. A good feminine head, good udder, an ability to produce a good quality calf and also feed a good quality calf, while maintaining herself and the calf, are all important traits.” Kieran Flatley told That’s Farming.

Kieran Flatley, farming news, Irish Shorthorn Society, Shorthorn, cattle, Winter Fair,
Shorthorn cross-heifer at Winter Fair 2014 – Image credit: Tricia Kennedy

Calving heifers from two-and-a-half to three-year-old is working well for Kieran.

This farmer culls cows if they are not performing optimally, with a strict culling policy in place as Kieran always has replacement heifers joining the herd.

“There is no space for passengers. If they are not breeding a good calf and doing it within 365 days of the year, there are not being kept.”

All bull calves are sold, while they keep most of their heifers as replacements and sell surplus stock.

“My brother, Aidan, sold an all-Ireland heifer calf two years ago in Roscommon and he also sold a bull calf to Wales, which was the first from the society premier to venture to UK.”

Kieran believes it’s important to be selling replacements as well as bulls.

“Firstly, to get revenue and secondly, to be seen to be selling good quality stock all the time. You can’t be bringing out your second or third best heifers. You should sell your good cattle every so often to get a name to be selling good cattle.”

They attended all the Shorthorn shows down through the years and Kieran would love to see more exhibitors joining the fold in the future.

Kieran Flatley, Shorthorn cattle, Shorthorns, farming news
All-Ireland Yearling Heifer in 2019
Irish Shorthorn Cattle Society

The Mayo man has involved in the Irish Shorthorn Society for over five years.

Leading up to his newly found presidency, the 28-year-old held the vice-president position and will hold his new seat of office for two years.

“Over the past few years, the Irish Shorthorn Society has grown a lot. This is a credit to all the council members who were there down through the years to get it to the stage that it is at.”

“It must keep growing, financially and for numbers of members, I’d like to see the Shorthorn break into a more commercial market, get involved with ICBF and trialling, see how Shorthorn animals kill out.”

“Furthermore, there is a big push on to get Shorthorn semen into dairy herds and getting them to use it; interest is growing at a rapid pace.”

Kieran Flatley, Shorthorn, cattle, Winter Fair,
Commercial Shorthorn heifer at Winter fair – Image credit: Tricia Kennedy
Future of the society

“I would like to see more Shorthorn stock bulls and AI bulls introduced to suckler herds. I think it’s important that we get more calves registered, both commercials and pedigrees.”

“Data-wise, we are probably down low, but the only way we can increase this is more semen being out there and high reliability.”

The president believes it is crucial that farmers are not just buying colour, but they must also ensure they focus on animal conformation.

“I have seen some Roan-coloured cattle sell for huge money, but in my eyes, a red or white Shorthorn could produce just as good quality calf, if not better than a roan Shorthorn.”

“There’s a good council in place, and it’s great to see how it has grown in the last ten years.” Kieran Flatley concluded.

The Irish Shorthorn Society is currently recruiting a breed development co-ordinator/breed secretary .

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