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Irish Limousin Cattle Society, Kilglass, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork

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Teagasc researchers frequently point out that suckler farming requires a hard working cow. There is no doubt that on the farms of John and Willie Cleary, outside Nenagh, the cows are hard working. Brothers John and Willie farm separately but regularly help each other. Both have suckler cows and an additional enterprise, for Willie this is sheep while John buys in cattle for finishing.

These are busy single operator farms with no airs and graces, time is of a premium so the cows have to be hard working and look after them selves. While good management practices prevail there is no place for hand holding.

Suckling close up

Willie runs sixty sucklers bringing all the offspring to finish and carries 500 ewes. He applies a hard nosed logic to his cows and ewes, they must be able to look after themselves and their progeny. His cows are three quarters Limousin with some Friesian in the background. He rears and buys replacements, when buying he would look out for a LM FR cross. Willie likes Limousin because they are easy calving, the calves are up and sucking themselves, the cows are good to go back in calf and are easy to maintain. He finds the calves to be good for growth and quality, also they are healthy. The males are finished as young bulls at between 18 and 24 months delivering U grade 450kg carcases. The heifers are killed at two years again delivering quality carcases 350 to 400kg. He usually takes the cattle to ABP Nenagh or Ashbourne Meats Roscrea.

LMX young bulls F

Remarkably Willie runs just one stock bull a Mas Du Clo son whom he sourced from Pat Bruen in Elphin Co. Roscommon. This bull is kept very busy but is very functional and well able to manage. This year all cows are back in calf with the planned for calving interval achieved. Willie has considered some AI but just doesn’t have the time. Typical of Mas Du Clo the calves are of good quality with good beefing ability.

Cleary Cattle

John has 100 sucklers again three quarters Limousin with some Friesian in the background. He runs two Limousin stock bulls a Milbrook Tanko out of an Epson cow supplied by local breeder Freddie Valette and a Grahams Samson son from Pat Bruen out of a French Gardette Herd cow. He is very satisfied with both bulls. Like his brother he breeds some replacements but also buys in, frequently sourcing good replacements at the annual September Limousin cross breeding heifer sale in Roscrea.

Cows and Calves

Cleary Calves

John brings all progeny to slaughter, in addition to his own progeny John would turn 400 cattle annually. He is a regular supplier to ABP Nenagh. John has a serious finishing set up with exceptional attention to detail using a diet feeder to feed straights, fodder beet and grass silage. He feeds well and achieves good growth rates. He buys cattle on a weekly basis, his preference is for Limousin due to good feed efficiency, carcase quality and kill out. He also has other breeds and mixes because he just can’t get his hands on enough Limousin. The cattle finishing is Johns main business so the sucklers are very much left to look after them selves, the Limousin easy care characteristic is ideal in this regard.

Calf suckling

John kills his heifers at 380kg carcase weight and the young bulls aged 20 months at about 440kg carcase weight. The factory has been encouraging him to kill the bulls at lower weights. The problem for him is that with the price of stores and weanlings he has to put on as much weight as he can get away with to make the economics work. In his view the factories have a preferred spec so they should offer a premium for this.





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