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

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A fact finding trip to France in May 2012 kindly supported by Sersia France, France Limousin Selection (Lanaud, Pepieux and Moussours), and KBS Genetics proved very worthwhile and informative.

In French there exists both private on farm selection and the government supported Limousin Selection system. France Limousin Selection has evolved over many years. Animals are evaluated on a range of traits and given a beef and maternal index.

The beef index comprises growth, muscle, skeletal, carcass weight, conformation and kill out. The maternal index comprises growth, muscle, skeletal, fertility, calving ability, and milk.

The trip included test station visits and a number of farm visits, observations were as follows.

Station de Lanaud

Station de Lanaud is the first step in identifying young bulls for progeny testing. Bulls selected from farms are purchased and evaluated at Lanaud. For each intake upon completion of the primary evaluation only a small number are sent for further evaluation with the remainder sold at auction. During our visit the RJ’s from the previous batch were being prepared for auction and the new batch had just arrived. The new batch of 196 Aug/Sept/Oct 2011 born bulls were undergoing health, fertility and docility screening while acclimatising.

Common sires for these bulls were Tastevin, Azurri, Anecdote, and Bavardage. There was a number of Neuf and Ozeus daughters amongst the dams. It was noted that Bavardage worked well on Neuf daughters, Neufs good top line complimented Bavardages volume

aLan

Lan1

Lanaud an excellent facility and centre for beef breeding that is a major information and marketing tool for French Limousin

RJ Bulls at the end of trial

Lan2

Lan4

RJ Bulls at the end of trial

RJ Bulls at the end of trial

Lan5

Lan6

New Bull intake

New Bull intake

Moussours

Moussours is the final step for maternal evaluation, daughters of selected bulls are inseminated to calve down at two and measured for milk, fertility etc with Epson daughters (Z tag) used as the control group.

The weather had been cold and wet with torrential rain during our visit resulting in difficult ground conditions.

In the current trial Bavardage (an On Dit son) daughters (P tag) were number one for milk. Second was Beaupre a Remix son (R tag).

m1

m2

Moussours maternal evaluation centre in very inclement weather

P Tag Bavardage Daughter

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m4

Bavardage Daughter

Bavardage Daughter

m5

m6

Bavardage Daughter

Bavardage Daughter

m7

m8

Bavardage Daughter

Bavardage Daughter

m9

m10

Bavardage Daughter

Bavardage Daughter

m11

m12

Bavardage Daughters calf

Bavardage Daughters calf

m13

m14

R Tag Beaupre Daughter and calf

Beaupre Daughter

m15

m16

Moussours

Moussours

m17

m18

Moussours

Moussours

m19

m20

Bavardage Daughter

Bavardage Daughter

m21

m22

Bavardage Daughter

Tag (control group) Epson Daughter

m23

 

Time to go

 

Farm 1

The first farm (Gaec de Bourdelas) we visited was located near Tulle, the home town of French President Hollande. This was a substantial commercial operation covering 175 Ha and carrying 120 Limousin cows and 450 ewes. Maize and Wheat are grown for feed. Grass silage had just been cut in the previous days.

All bull calves are brought to slaughter (440 kg carcase at 15 months), as are heifers not retained for breeding (330kg carcase at 22 months), and cull cows are slaughtered at 450kg. The farm participates in weighing and scoring, three weights are recorded birth, under 120 days and 120 to 220 days. Birth weights were in the range 36 to 48 kg. The farm operated a tight calving spread with calving taking place in September and October. Breeding is 100% AI with bull selection Milk first, then fertility and third beef.

The farmer found Remix good for beef, Usse very good for milk and calving ease, and liked On Dit. This year he has used a lot of Ozeus (but only on cows) and On Dit.

Some of his On Dit cows were sickled but he did not see this as a problem.

Farm 1a

Farm 1b

Young Bulls for finishing born Sept Oct 2011, 1604 is by Urville out of an Epson cow

Young Bulls born Sept Oct 2011 by Tastevin, 1565 out of an On Dit cow

Farm 1c

Farm 1d

Tastevin young bulls

Cows with calves, calf by Remix out of an On Dit cow

Farm 1e

Farm 1f

On Dit heifers born Sept 2009

On Dit heifers born Sept 2009

Farm 2

Again a commercial recording farm comprising 110 Ha carrying 65 cows and 200 ewes. Breeding is 90% AI. AI selection was driven by maternal traits.

Young bulls are sold live at 12 months (500 to 550 kg live).

He had some nice Ozeus and On Dit cows.

Some of the better calves included an Azzuri heifer out of a Remix cow, an Anecdote bull out of a heifer going back to Dauphin, Ozeus bulls, Tastevin bulls and an Ut Majeur heifer.

Farm 2

 

Weaned calves in a shed, no field photos due to torrential rain

 

Farm 3

The third farm, Meyrignac, comprised 150 cows and was located in a valley with a lot of apple production. Breeding was a mix of AI and stock bulls. Cows included Neuf, Mas Du Clo and Remix. The farmer liked Azurri out of Mas Du Clo and Remix cows. He only used Azurri on mature cows, Azurri daughters are good on milk (especially late milk) and excellent for fertility. As on most farms heifers calve at three, the current batch of heifers were in calf to Usse and Anecdote. Probably the best calves seen on this farm were an Armoric, a Tastevin and an Anecdote.

Farm3a

Farm3b

Cows and calves in field approaching group

Farm 3 Cows and calves

Farm3c

Farm3d

Farm 3 Cows and calves

Farm 3 Cows and calves

Farm3e

Farm3f

Cows and calves

Cows and calves

Farm3g

Farm3i

Azzuri calf flanked by a Valium and Highlander cow

Azzuri calf

Farm3j

Farm3k

Azzuri calf

Neuf Cow

Farm 4

The Meynial farm had both a beef suckler herd and a montbeliarde dairy herd. The highlight was some very nice and very quite Ozeus cows and heifers. The pick of the calves were by Valerian and Tastevin

Farm4a

Farm4b

Shed

Tastevin, Valerian and Anecdote calves

Farm4c

Farm4d

Quite Ozeus cows

Anecdote calf

Farm4e

Farm4f

Cows and calves

Cows and calves

Farm4g

Farm4h

Ozeus cow

Wet, wet, wet!

Farm 5

This farm run by Madame Labarre near Egletons up from the Dordogne valley at 900m was the highest farm we visited (most being 300 to 450m), snow can last for four months and wild boar plus deer are common. The farm is grass only on free draining soil, it is too high for maize.

This farm had an excellent herd of 65 cows and the female calves are either kept for breeding or sold for breeding, the madame operates a 30% replacement rate and the quality of her cows is testament to excellent selection and culling. In selecting sires she focused on Docility, milk and easy calving. To produce females her bulls of choice are On Dit, Ozeus and Usse. Other bulls used are Azurri, Valerian, Tastevin and Anecdote. She also runs a stock bull purchased from Lanaud. She will not use much Anecdote (an On Dit son) as she has a lot of On Dit cows and heifers.

Probably reflecting the maternal focus the heifer calves were excellent and the bulls not quite as good. Tastevins were better as bulls than heifers, Azurri were good for both, Ozeus females looked smart, milky and tidy.

Farm5a

Farm5b

Noduleux cow in calf to Ozeus

Working cow

Farm5c

Farm5d

Stock bull ex Lanaud

Neuf cow

Farm5e

Farm5f

Cow type

Cow type

Farm5g

Farm5h

Heifer calves

Cows and calves

Farm5i

Farm5j

Ozeus heifer calf

Heifer calf from stock bull

Farm5k

Farm5l

On Dit cow

On Dit cow

Farm5m

Farm5n

On Dit cow with calf at foot by stock bull

Quality cows and heifer calves

Farm5o

Farm5p

Ozeus cow and calf

Cow type

Farm5q

Farm5r

Cow type

Cow type

Farm5s

Farm5t

Cow type

Cow type

Farm5u

Farm5v

Cow type

Cow type

Farm5w

Farm5x

Ozeus cow

Woods in background full of wild boar and deer at 900m

Farm 6

Into the final full day of the trip and better weather, the local farmers had being waiting for this to complete maize sowing and get on with silage and hay. May and early June are the peak for grass growth, after that it gets very dry.

This farm has been breeding Limousins for many generations and was more focused on muscle than maternal. The aim is to sell progeny for breeding. This farm has bred Junior, Vision, and Acajou. The main stock bull was Celestin an Objat son. The cows were by Junior, Nino and Domino.

Farm6A

Farm6b

Mother of Acajou

Cow type more beefy

Farm6Celestin

Farm6d

Celestin and Objat son

Cows and calves

Farm6DamofAcajou

Farm6e

Mother of Acajou

Farm 6

Farm6f

Farm6g

Farm 6

New shed in background with ventilation system powered by solar panels

Farm6h

Farm6i

Farm 6

Show plaques

Farm 7

The Boustrat breeding farm has produced Lino, Pacha 19, Navarin and the show cow Nicois. The farm comprises 200 Ha between grass, maize and cereals. The cattle shed had a big area of solar panels, electricity was being sold to the national grid. The farm carries 160 Limousin Cows and the aim is to sell as many offspring as possible each year for breeding, on average 30% of the bulls go for breeding. Breeding focus is on quality, milk and docility.

The cows observed were very docile with back pedigree comprising Nelson, Vileux, Ultime (not the Ultime we are familiar with in Ireland) and Valser. The bulls being used were Denver (a son of Tango), Bagu, Cesar (a son of Nico), and Cajour. Denver was good for meat and Cajour was for easy calving and milk.

Farm7

Farm7a

Shed with solar panels

Cow type

Farm7b

Farm7c

Calf by Denver

Farm 7

Farm7d

Farm7Denver

Farm 7

Denver son of Tango

farm7Denver1

Farm7Denver2

Denver son of Tango

Denver son of Tango

Farm7Denver3

Farm7e

Denver son of Tango

Farm 7

Farm7f

Farm7g

Farm 7

Farm 7

Farm7h

 

Farm 7

Farm 8

The next farm (Lubersac) had 140 cows and was involved in a polled programme. The young cows and heifers were by Bessi, Viking, Bonix (out of Sucess), Bambino and Cabri. Homo polled bulls Viking and Tigris were being used to produce polled stock. The polled animals could be identified by their more slanty eyes, not all animals were polled. The target was to produce quality polled cows and heifers. The groups of Tigris heifers had good even quality with good docility and feet. Achille had been used on some of the Tigris heifers for easy calving.

The last group seen on this farm was the show group.

Farm8

Farm8a

Polled heifer by Tigris

Polled heifer by Tigris

Farm8b1

Farm8c

Polled cow by Viking and calf

Polled programme farm

Farm8d

Farm8e

Polled programme farm

Polled programme farm

Farm8f

Farm8g

Polled programme farm

Polled programme farm

Farm8h

Farm8i

Polled programme farm

Polled programme farm

Farm8j

Farm8k

Polled programme farm

Polled programme farm

Farm8l

Farm8m

Polled programme farm

Polled programme farm

Farm8n

Farm8o

Polled programme farm

Polled programme farm

Farm8p

farm8q

New stock bull

Show group

Farm 9

The final farm seen was Louis La Gare. This farm was also involved in the polled programme. The calves viewed were by the hetro polled Clovis and Ultime Mn. The Heifers were by Clovis and Bruno and in calf to a son of Tigris.

Farm9

Farm9a

Farm 9

Farm 9

Farm9b

Farm9c

Farm 9

Farm 9

Farm9Clovis

Farm9d

Farm 9

Farm 9

Farm9e

Farm9f

Farm 9

Farm 9

Farm9g

Farm9h

Farm 9

Farm 9

Farm9polled hfr

 

Polled heifer by Clovis in calf to Tigris

 

To summarise, observations from the trip included

    • Breeding focus in general was milk, fertility and beef in that order
    • Good functional cows
    • Tight calving spreads
    • Strong culling strategies
    • Progress in the polled programme
    • Excellent docility

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