The O’Sullivan family’s well-known Lisduff Holstein herd is situated north of Cork city in the townland of Whitechurch.
The herd has increased numbers significantly over the past decade, but the goal of breeding productive cows that give kilos of milk solids while maintaining super fertility and conformation has remained.
To ensure this goal is met and the Lisduff show is kept on the road, many hands are needed.
John O’Sullivan continues to work alongside his two sons John and Victor, along with full-time worker Dave McGrath, who is ably assisted by his two sons James and Patrick when school commitments allow.
In total, the team now milks nearly 500 cows split between two farms. These cows produce an average 8,400kg of milk on 630kg solids with a massive 69 cows classifying excellent (EX) and a further 250 very good (VG).
This high level of AI and increased usage of sexed semen means that the herd regularly has females for sale
Split 70/30 between spring and autumn calving, the herd has been 100% AI for the past 40 years.
This high level of AI and increased usage of sexed semen means that the herd regularly has females for sale. Over the past 38 years, these sale lots have been offered to breeders at the herd’s annual sale each October, which offers both freshly calved heifers and those due to calve the following spring.
This year, however, the herd held a youngstock sale for calves born from September 2020 onwards. This marked the first youngstock sale by the herd in over 16 years and was met with a phenomenal demand, with 100% of females finding new homes. Hosted on-farm, heifers averaged an impressive €1,140, selling to a top of €3,900.
Securing the top price was February 2021-born Lisduff Leslie 500 ET.
Boasting a genotyped EBI of €275, the stylish young heifer is a daughter of Sand-Valley I Batman. The Leslie family was brought into the herd back in the late 1980s and has performed exceptionally well, with almost 500 registered calves to the family in the Lisduff herd alone.
The dam of the sale topper, Lisduff Leslie 153 EX90, already produced successful AI bull Lisduff Perception.
These on-farm sales have been very good to us
Back and forth bidding meant auctioneer Denis Barrett was kept busy until he finally dropped the hammer to an online bidder from Co Donegal.
Speaking after the sale, John O’Sullivan said: “These on-farm sales have been very good to us. It’s not really about one particular animal, more consistent good prices across the entire crop. The biggest thing for us is the repeat customer. They keep coming back so it means they’re happy with what they are getting. This sale again highlights that with the vast majority repeat customers.”
To be able to produce a constant supply of top-end females is no easy task. John O’Sullivan Jr said a lot of work goes into the sire selection and matching the bull to the cow.
“We try to get it right before the calf is born. Every insemination is carefully thought out. We consult all figures and information we have and try our best to choose a bull that complements the cow.”
In recent years, sexed semen use has also increased significantly. All heifers are given sexed semen along with around 60% of the milking herd.
This, as well as the fertility of cows constantly improving, means more females are now born at Lisduff than ever before. Attention for the Lisduff team now turns to the autumn female sale.