On Sunday the Irish Aubrac Cattle Breed Society held its summer open day on James Ryan’s farm in the hills of Doon, on the Limerick- Tipperary border.
Although in the parish of Doon, Co Limerick, James has no doubts about which side of the border he lies in, naming his strong pedigree herd Tipperary Aubracs.
Having taken over the farm in 1984, James moved from dairy production to suckling due to his full-time work commitments at the time. The suckler herd was made up of predominately purebred Salers cows until 2012, when James set eyes upon a bunch of pedigree French Aubrac in-calf heifers. James returned later in the year to purchase five of those heifers and further expanded in 2013 when he purchased 12 weanlings.
He said: “I soon realised the Aubrac cow had everything a farmer could wish for.”
James has since worked with a French technician on importing his current stock bull, Montrozier, and has built the herd up to 35 cows.
While a number of bulls are selected to breed in both the suckler and dairy herds, this year James trialled killing the purebred bulls. These bulls were born October 2014 and left with the dam for nine months before being weaned in July.
While being weaned and up until housing in mid-October, the bulls received 3kg of a ration. At housing, feed increased to 5kg, gradually increasing to a point where they were consuming 10kg by the start of December.
All bulls were slaughtered on 6 January 2016 after consuming about 1t/head. The average carcase weight of the bulls came in at 404kg, and of the five bulls killed, four graded U+, with the other grading E-.
All these bulls were killed at under 15 months old and left an average of €1,680.
Society PRO PJ McGrath spoke about his first-hand experience of the breed in his home dairy herd.
Having previously used Limousin to mop up their cattle after AI, the McGraths switched to the Aubrac breed for their ease of calving and high killout rates. Carrying all stock to slaughter, R grades are being achieved across steers and heifers, with the odd U. Steers are killed off-farm at 22 to 24 months, averaging 360kg to 370kg carcase. As for heifers, these come into 340kg around the 21-month mark.
“Even with the bonuses for other breeds such as the Angus and Hereford, the Aubrac are preforming better due to their grading,” he said.
Maternal beef programme
With ¤uro-Star indices becoming ever-more prevalent when selecting bulls for the breeding herd, much talk was about Calverstown Koala, the newest Aubrac addition to the ICBF’s maternal beef programme.
Koala carries five stars within and across breed for terminal and replacement indices, while maintaining a calving figure of only 3.3%.
Speaking about the bull was breeder Jim McCall, who emphasised the point that breeders mustn’t lose sight of replacement traits when breeding.
“Koala performed to 1.5kg to 1.6kg average daily gain up to weaning with no meal, while his mother carries a 359-day calving interval. Aubracs are a highly efficient breed, but we must remember not to lose sight of replacement traits when breeding.”
Society chair James Donnellan emphasised how the Aubracs rank so highly on ¤uro-Stars while maintaining low calving figures, making them ideal for dairy and suckler herds, especially at a time where four- and five-star females are becoming ever-more in demand.
Carlisle senior champion – Bluestar Iron Mike
Clinching the senior male championship at Carlisle before being sold for 5,000gns was Irish-bred bull Bluestar Iron Mike. Bred by John Redmond, Garyhill, Co Carlow, Iron Mike is a son Empire D’Ochain and bred from one of the herd’s best breeding females sired by Bringlee Blackstar.