Opportunity to win a £484 PLI heifer

David Irwin, left, Redhouse Holsteins and Conor Loughran, Genus ABS selecting Commander Jan as prize heifer in the Genus ABS Christmas prize draw.
David Irwin, left, Redhouse Holsteins and Conor Loughran, Genus ABS selecting Commander Jan as prize heifer in the Genus ABS Christmas prize draw.

A unique opportunity to win an extremely high genetic merit heifer is open to all dairy farmers in Northern Ireland. This special offer could mean a £484 PLI Larcrest Commander daughter arriving at your farm as a special Christmas present.

The heifer on offer is Redhouse Commander Jan bred by the Irwin family at Benburb. Her genetic background is Commander x Iota x Mascol. Iota’s dam produced 9754 kg in her second lactation while Mascol’s grand dam produced 11,635 kg in her second lactation.

There are 27 members of the Jan family in the Redhouse herd – all very powerful cows with yields to 16,000 litres in some of the older animals. One Shottle Jan is just about to cross the 100 ton mark. All Jan 3rd calvers or over which are milking are VG or EX.

This is not just a one-off special heifer selected solely for its Genus ABS genetics – there is a wealth of breeding for all economic traits in the Redhouse herd. Firstly there is production, with the herd having won the UK Herd Production award two years ago in the UK Farm Business Cream Awards. The 170 cow pedigree Holstein herd is milked three times daily and produces a 305 day average of 12,500 litres with about 40 heifers coming into the herd each year.

However, extreme milk production is not achieved at the expense of longevity. Locomotion; mammary care; milking speed; easy calving; somatic cell count; power (chest and rump width) and kilos of protein and fat all play an important role in breeding selection and when it comes to fertility David Irwin states that there are absolutely no exceptions on this criteria. The herd is accredited BVD and Johnes free.

David’s philosophy is to utilise research and expertise to maximise the production and profitability of the Redhouse herd while ensuring that animal welfare and environmental aspects are also fully recognised.

The herd is grouped according to yield and fed a mix of meal, straw and silage in various proportions depending on what group/stage of lactation they are in and how the silage has analysed. All meal is mixed on the farm with the exception of the parlour nut.

A detailed calf rearing programme is adhered to rigidly while cow comfort and disease control are key. Cows must be in proper condition at calving with 365 day calving essential. In order to reach target service weight of 360 kg at 13-15 months, heifers cannot afford any growth setback. David said: “Attention to detail from calves to cows to fields is vital, all of the animals respond well to routine and consistency.”

A glance at some of the figures for the herd in the official bench marking against other pedigree Holstein herds in UK highlights the quality of the management and breeding criteria employed at Redhouse Holsteins. The cumulative lactation yield is 12,774 compared to an average of 9837 for all UK Holstein herds. Lactation length is 336 compared to an average of 360 while cell count is 142 compared to a 218 average and number of lactations is 3.04 compared to 2.75. The calving interval is 367 compared to 422 and culling percentage is 16.41 compared to 21.17.

One lucky dairy farmer will introduce this quality breeding and performance to his/her herd by receiving a ticket for the draw for the heifer with every purchase of £500 of Genus ABS owned dairy semen. The draw will take place on 19th December.

For further details contact your Genus ABS representative or phone the office on 028 3833 4426.