Simmental bull top choice for Co Down dairy farmer

SIMMENTAL BROWN RI Farm
CALVES: Dairy farmer Richard Brown is achieving £200 to £250 per head for two and three-week-old Simmental calves at the farm gate.

RICHARD Brown has been

dairy farming in Kill-aughey, near Millisle, County Down, for over 20 years.

BUSY: Millisle dairy farmer Richard Brown.

The herd currently consists of 200 Holstein Friesian cows. Holstein genetics play a fundamental part in the herd’s breeding programme.

Proven AI bulls are used on the top performing cows with the aim of lifting milk solids, while sexed semen is used on maiden heifers for ease of calving.

A Simmental bull is used as a sweeper. Richard purchased his first Simmental stock bull 10 years ago and has never looked back.

Richard was familiar with the Simmental breed, as he and his father previously owned a suckler herd, prior to establishing the dairy enterprise.

Simmental boasts maternal and terminal traits, and the dual-purpose breed played a major part in the makeup of the suckler herd.

The dairy herd calves between September and February, and on average 100 beef-bred calves are sold off the farm every year. Simmental calves are sold at two to three-weeks-of-age and easily achieve between £200 and £250 per head.

Commitments of a modern dairy farm prevent Richard from having time to travel to livestock marts to sell his calves.

Therefore, a quality beef calf is essential for an effortless farmgate sale. Richard’s Sim-mental bull and heifer calves attract strong demand from repeat customers on a regular basis.

There is a considerable amount of positive feedback received from the buyers of Simmental calves, with the exceptional performance being evident for those taking calves through to beef.

A select number of Richard’s heifer calves will go on to make replacement suckler cows.

This guaranteed market for the Simmental calf provides a vital income stream for the farm, with minimal burden on time, and without compromise on

bio-security.

When selecting beef genetics for his herd Richard puts major emphasis on Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) such as calving ease and gestation length.

He also focuses on the terminal aspect of the breed. His current Simmental stock bull is Slievenagh Jackpot sired by Kilbride Farm Glenhead.

Over the past number of years Richard has put more effort into selecting the correct sire for his herd and potentially investing capital in a bull.

By doing so he has seen significant return on his invest-ment and improved feedback from his repeat customers.

Time pressures on a modern-day dairy farm mean that the system needs to be simple.

He believes there are numerous advantages of using Simmental genetics within a progressive dairy herd.

Richard explained: “Simmental bulls are robust, easy calving, and have a great temperament.

“They also have good legs and feet and can walk to the fields and graze with cows.

“These are attributes highly desirable by many dairy farmers,” he added.

Richard concluded: “Simmental calves tick all the boxes. They thrive well and are easy reared, and have great ‘get up and go’ from day one!”

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