PJ Browne took over the running of the family farm at Fermoy, Co. Cork a decade ago and manages to incorporate a full time job alongside, like so many farmers nowadays.
His parents Jim and Anne introduced Limousin to the farm just over thirty years ago, and PJ remembers well the delight when the first calves were born.
“The quality was just something that we had not seen before, and from that day to this Limousin has had a tremendous influence.” explains PJ.
The dairy herd numbers 45 head and is made up of a blend of traditional Friesian and Holstein type cows. The top performers are AI’d to dairy bulls to ensure that there is a supply of replacements when required. The Limousin stock bull is then ran with the herd for a period which provides highly sought after commercial stores.
These are brought to the marketplace at approximately 18 months of age and PJ has found that each year the same buyers are keen to snap them up.
“We part company with our Limousin crosses as forward stores through the live rings. They consistently top the markets trade on the day as they are bought by beef finishers or occasionally heifers are purchased as suckler replacements. The beauty of the Limousin heifer is that it appeals to both beef and cow men due to its versatility. Many other breeds would be seen as perhaps suitable for one job, and therefore the sale routes are restricted.”
A small herd of suckler cows is also maintained, most of which originated on the farm. These Limousin x Friesian types have great mothering ability with an abundance of milk. This means that PJ does not have to creep feed his calves to get them into weights required for selling.
The added advantage of retaining his own replacements is that PJ can be confident of the stock that he is breeding from. He hand picks a number of heifers from his best cows each year to ensure that the herd is maintained at its current level.
When selecting a stock bull that will suit both the dairy and suckler herds, PJ is keen to follow what information is available to him regarding terminal and maternal traits. In addition he will also keep a close eye on conformation and mobility.