Top genetics to go under the hammer at Boghill Glamour dispersal sale

The Boghill Glamour dispersal sale next week promises to be one of the most exciting and highly anticipated events in the Holstein calendar.

Friday, 20th August 2021, 3:01 pm

The event takes place on August 25th and 26th under the auspices of Norton and Brooksbank Livestock Sales at 7 Boghill Road, Coleraine.

The Boghill Glamour Herd of Holsteins belong to Mr M McCollum and Mr D McAfee. The Boghill herd was established by the McCollum’s 40 years and merged with the Glamour herd 12 years ago to create the Boghill Glamour prefix.

Mr McAfee said the sale represents a unique opportunity for breeders throughout the UK to acquire animals at the very highest level of the Holstein breed.

He added: “Never before has there been a selection of animals put together of this quality with these numbers ever assembled in one place.”

Boghill Glamour is one of the highest PL herds in the UK, the results of a joint venture between two friends 12 years ago.

“At the start we always reckoned we would keep 200 or 300 head of cattle and all of a sudden we are now carrying 700 head. We have decided now to virtually disperse the entirety of the herd but then keep some pregnant animals which will be more than enough to keep us occupied for a few years to come,” said David.

“We are not leaving the industry and we just wish that the people that do purchase the animals off us have as much success as we have. We have sent into AI probably averaging over the last six to eight years between 10 and 15 bulls per year - that’s either domestically in the UK or throughout Europe and we have also bred the number one TPI animals in Europe, not just in the UK. We have five of the top ten net merit animals in Europe at present.”

David said interest in the sale so far has been ‘mindboggling’.

“I have been talking to different ones about the interest that has been created. It’s not just going to be farmers who will be at the sale purchasing the animals, it’s going to be AI companies who are going to be coming to buy female breeding stock, as well as investors throughout Europe from what we are led to believe at this stage. It is quite humbling in a way that a wee speck up here in Northern Ireland can mix it with the best herds throughout the globe and not just in the UK.”

There are also some animals for sale which represent the highest TPI animals ever to be offered on public auction in Europe.

The last decade has seen huge change in terms of genetics in the Holstein breed. The introduction of genomic testing has totally re-shaped the way in which the industry approaches genetic gain, both in terms of females and males selected by the AI industry and, just as importantly, the way in which breeding decisions are made from an on-farm perspective. In recent years many of the large global AI companies have founded their own nucleus herds to pursue the highest testing animals, much of the time through vast investment in females and breeding programs.

Only a handful of farmer owned and bred herds across the globe have been able to keep pace with the industry and none have been more effective than Boghill Glamour. The genetic heights achieved by this partnership, when you consider their humble beginnings, are quite extraordinary.

Today, the herd has almost complete domination of the genomic rankings in the UK and Europe with many of the top animals going toe to toe with the global elite. Their decision to make the herd available for sale brings about an opportunity for farmers and breeders alike that may never be seen again. Never before have this number of animals at such a high genetic level been offered for sale.

The McCollum family have resided at Boghill for numerous generations with a farming history that spans into the 1800s with cows being milked on the farm for much of that time. Today the farm and herd are taken care of by Morrell McCollum and his wife Edith. The decision was made some forty or so years ago to register cattle as pedigree under the Boghill prefix with the emphasis on type, production and solid cow families, the same principles that still shape the herd and its breeding to the present day.

The McCollums have for many years been good friends with David McAfee who had come from local farming and dairy background but had pursued a business in property development. David had always had a keen interest though in Holstein breeding and had himself registered cattle under the Glamour prefix, and was particularly excited about the prospect and opportunities that the introduction of genomics could bring.

Some twelve or so years ago David and Morrell decided to embark on a breeding partnership, initially to purchase some embryos from the USA with the aim to breed bulls carrying the ‘Boghill Glamour’ prefix that would have an impact throughout the Holstein breed whilst putting together the highest genomic herd in the UK, hoping to help mould the Holstein breed for generations to come. They were looking for a cow family that could breed high index, high components yet still maintain very good type.

Together with the help of his long time friend Gary Housner of Bo-Irish Holsteins in Wisconsin, David purchased embryos from the Cosmopolitan family which led to the arrival of the Numero Uno daughter Glamour Carlin. The rest, as they say, is history.

Over the next decade Carlin has created a dynasty of her own that could be argued is unrivalled in the breed. The initial idea of breed leading index in combination with type and production could not have been fulfilled any better and by David and Morrell’s own admission has far surpassed even their wildest dreams. Their only wish left now is that these cattle they offer for sale go on to bring the same rewards and heights of achievement to their new owners.

When you look through this catalogue and consider the opportunities this sale presents there is little doubt that this hope will also be fulfilled. When you consider the genetic merit of the herd, which can be counted on a global scale, it must be taken into account the environment in which they reside. This is a hard working herd, set in a commercial facility in an area where it is not possible to push for extreme production. It cannot be emphasised enough that there is enormous scope for increased yield. All of the milkers reside in the herd with none given special individual treatment. The herd are all housed in cubicles and milked twice daily. Feeding consists of a simple TMR of grass and whole crop silage together with concentrates. There is no parlour or out-of-parlour individual feeding. The resulting milk yields pay testimony to the breeding together with the level of farm management, with a current rolling herd average of 10309kg 4.65 fat 3.41 protein, SCC121.

Today the cows are currently yielding 35kg/head, 4.71fat 3.44 protein which when you consider the majority of the herd is made up of first lactation heifers becomes even more impressive.

Morrell, Edith and David would very much like to take this opportunity to thank herdsmen Harold and David for their hard work and care of the herd. Both have dedicated much, if not all, of their working lives at Boghill and can take great credit in the achievements of the herd. They would also like to give special mention and sincere thanks to Tom Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick ET Services. Tom has been an integral part of the herd’s development throughout the last decade.

Some of the highlights from the sale can be found online at Norton and Brooksbank.