EASE of management combined with profitable returns are just two of the reasons behind Dennis Minfords’ choice of a Hereford bull within his 190 cow dairy herd based near the International Airport in County Antrim.
The Minford family have been using a Hereford bull as part of their dairy enterprise for many years.
Dennis highlights the docility of the bulls when out with the cows, ease of calving and the returns from finishing 30 Hereford X calves each year as essential in the management of the farm.
The 190 strong milking herd calves from August through to mid April, with all calves born from February onwards being sired by the Hereford. This allows Dennis to select his replacement females from the earliest calves born and prevents him from using daughters from cows with poorer fertility. Dennis commented that “using this system gives me the most efficient dairy herd possible as it stops me from being too sentimental on individual high yielders that in the long run are inefficient and high maintenance”. Dennis targets a 8200 litre average and focuses on a robust cow type, avoiding the extreme Holstein strains.
Dennis uses AI for the majority of the cows, and runs two Hereford stock bulls with the rest. The Hereford bulls are used on a 10 day rotation, with one out with the cows whilst the other is resting. Dennis highlights that this is only possible due to the good nature of the Hereford bull and the ability to work with them in the field. This system gives Dennis a chance to bring on a young bull without sacrificing any fertility of either cows or bulls.
Dennis has 45 cows and heifers currently in calf to the Hereford, and has had no problems to date with calving the Hereford with very little assistance needed with either group at calving.
Dennis aims to keep 30 Hereford cross calves each year to take through to finish at around 22-23 months of age, with the rest of the Hereford calves being sold to regular customers.
Although Denis doesn’t admit to being a “Beef” farmer, the grade sheets and returns from his Hereford steers and heifers speak for themselves. The cattle are marketed through a Hereford Beef Scheme and with Dennis consistently achieving O=3= and better, with weights averaging 365kg in 2011 and 388kg in 2012, there can be no doubting his ability in this area either. Denis cites the Herefords vigour as calves and their feed conversation ability as key factors in his finishing system.
There is clearly a financial benefit from using the Hereford for the Minfords’ as well as the obvious benefits in keeping their management system as simple as possible. Herefords are here to stay on the Minford farm and it’s easy to see why.
• The Northern Ireland Hereford Breeders Club are holding their Premier Show and Sale on the 18th January at Dungannon Farmers Mart, starting at 10am with the sale at 1pm.
For catalogues please ring the Mart on 028 8772 2727.