One of the top Hereford Herds in the United Kingdom opened their doors to visitors last week.
John Conlon is still a relative newcomer to the breed but he has quickly established his Drumatee herd – not just as the best in Northern Ireland but in the top flight of the breed within these islands.
Local enthusiasts were treated to an excellent display of Hereford genetics with the cow herd demonstrating strong maternal traits and stacks of quality and breed character.
The herd sires and young bulls exhibited excellent conformation and the easy fleshing which is the trademark of the Hereford.
In welcoming visitors Mr Conlon explained that the herd was managed entirely on commercial lines with an emphasis on grass and forage.
He outlined his grazing management and the performance targets which he set to ensure that heifers would calve down by two years of age and that bulls grow at an average of one kilogram per day.
A paddock grazing system is used to ensure efficient utilisation of the grass and results in minimal requirement for purchased feeds.
When grass growth gets too strong for the cows to graze, paddocks are taken out of the rotation and baled for silage.
“We don’t carry any passengers,” said John. “Any cows not calving regularly or not producing enough milk are culled. We also select rigorously in the young stock with only the top heifers retained for breeding – and only the best bulls offered for sale.”
Considerable research and time goes into the selection of herd sires.
John said: “We like to see good performance figures but proven bloodlines and strong breed character are essential.”
Herd health is another important element in John’s strategy to produce high performance, high quality breeding stock to meet the growing demand for Hereford genetics.
As a member of the AFBI cattle health scheme the herd is tested for Johnes and BVD while vaccinating for Leptospirosis.
Mark Moore, secretary of the Northern Ireland Hereford breeders association proposed a vote of thanks to John and his entire family for hosting the visit and for their hospitality
“This event has really demonstrated the strengths of our breed in producing top performance on low cost, grass based systems,” said Mark.
He concluded: “At a time when beef producers are under pressure it shows what can be achieved with the right genetics and good management.”