A very welcome addition to James Watt’s herd at Rickamore Brae, Templepatrick arrived this week in the form of Redhouse Commander Jan, the £484 PLI heifer which was the special offer in the Genus ABS draw for customers.
Commander Jan, bred by the Irwin family, Benburb is a Commander x Iota x Mascol and is simply moving from one high performance herd to another.
The 200 cow Braeside Holstein Friesian herd has an average yield of 10,000 litres with the emphasis on longevity, fertility and animal welfare in addition to production.
James is the sixth generation to farm this land and since finishing his course at Greenmount College in the late eighties has worked tirelessly to progress the business. The aim has been a quality foundation herd of cows that are capable of responding to a high standard of management. Sires used in the herd in the past include Laurelhill Classic, Gran J O McCormick and Bomaz Ingenious.
James added: “McCormack has been used extensively for reliability, longevity and fertility. This winter I have used the proven sire, Welcome Armitage Pesky, extensively in the herd.”
The recent volatility in milk prices has made life very difficult for all dairy farmers but especially for James who had the expense of a new parlour and the purchase of some rented land just two years previous. However, due to his efficiency, high management standards and herd health policy he has managed to “weather the storm”.
He admits that the new parlour has been a boon to management as it includes features which assist with day to day management – eg.feed to yield, pedometers etc.
He also works closely with Firmount Veterinary Clinic with visits every two weeks to perform health checks, PDs etc. to ensure a high fertility rate. He also points out that the quality genetic base enables the cows to respond to dedicated management. The herd calves from August to May and is housed in winter and at night during the summer months when the cows are strip grazed during the day and fed TMR at night.
With the experience of the recent low milk prices behind him, James realises that volatility will be a feature of the future and is an advocate of building contingency funds either as individual farmers or as an industry.
The big question that everyone is asking him “What sire are you going to use on Redhouse Commander Jan?” James states that after discussing various options with his breeding advisor, Brian McCarron, he has decided to use sexed semen from the high PLI genomic sire, Apina Nadal, who, in addition to great production, also transmits average stature, strength and fantastic health and fitness traits – he would be the ideal choice.
Brian McCarron added: “James has been a valued customer of Genus ABS for many years and I was delighted when he won the prize heifer in our draw. On behalf of Genus, I would like to wish him all the best with this new addition to the herd.
For further details of the Genus ABS sires available farmers should contact their Genus ABS representative or phone the office on 028 3833 4426.