Farming just outside Ballina, Co Mayo, the Egan family farm consists of about 40 continental cows and 60 Suffolk and Texel ewes.
Most of the cows are spring-calving, with about 10 commercial cows calving alongside the pedigree cows and recipients in the autumn.
Seamus has a very set cow type, with “power” being a key component. Limousin with a percentage of Belgian Blue is the preferred type. Red Limousin and Salers cows are generally served with AI to a Charolais bull, with black Limousin cows inseminated to a Belgian Blue. While the herd has a Tomschoice Lexicon stockbull, most of the cows and heifers are served with AI, with the stock bull generally used from mid-June to sweep up remaining cows.
Seamus completes the AI himself, using a broad range of bulls across several AI stations. From Dovea Genetics, Claddagh McCabe, Elderberry Galahad, Knockmoyle10 Loki ET, Bud Orpheus, Imperial De l’Excluse and An de Beauffaux are all used. “Every heifer is bulled to EBY, unless she is out of EBY herself. In that case I would likely use a Salers,’’ Seamus said.
Elite Forever Brill is the bull of choice from Munster AI, with the remaining team consisting of Chocolat de Champs, Scardaune Mark, Loyal and Impossible.
Having power and scope behind cows is what Seamus aims for in order to calve what some people might feel are more difficult calving bulls.
Heifers are generally bulled at 550kg to allow them to mature before being put in calf.
Most of the commercial replacements are purchased, with the preference of buying bulling or springing heifers being related back to the length of time waiting for a return of money by keeping a weanling heifer.
Seamus said: “I don’t buy replacements on figures. For me she has to have that power and scope, good plates and pelvic width in order to deliver a large calf. I don’t buy for stars or figures; they’re bought by eye.’’
Homebred replacements are carefully selected, with no progeny from easy-calving bulls retained in order to retain the pelvic area in the cow that Seamus requires for his bull choice.
Most of the weanlings are sold in Mayo-Sligo Mart in the autumn, with the aim being to produce a 300-400kg weanling for sale. Marrying quality with weight for age is the goal. ‘’What you’re looking for is your €1,000 weanling. You’ve no business going to town getting a high price per kilo if you haven’t a big enough cheque coming home with you. You’re not covering your cow costs in that case.’’
Ewes lamb down from February onwards, with a mix of Suffolk, Texel and Beltex rams used. All lambs are brought through to slaughter, with a preference for buying in replacement hoggets as opposed to putting ewe lambs to a ram or running them dry for a year.
A brace of cows makes up the pedigree contingent, with the main cow being Cloonglasna Jenny. A Cloverfield Excellent daughter going back to a Doonally New dam, she can be traced back to the first Charolais cow purchased from the Skidoo Charolais herd in 1993, with Jenny’s progeny making an impressive stamp in sales and show rings.
Her first pedigree calf, Cloonglasna11 Oscar, was unbeaten in the show ring and secured senior male calf champion at the 2019 Tullamore Show.
Following on from Oscar’s success on the show circuit, he secured the junior male champion at the Christmas Cracker in 2019, with the Ballymyle Vagabond son selling for €9,000.
Her second calf, a Major son, sold in the 2020 Cracker for €6,300. The decision was made to flush Jenny, with three ET calves sired by Ballymyle Vagabond currently on the ground and destined for the winter sales.
Similar to the commercials, size and power is the key criteria, with more British-type bulls being used.
“Using the flashier, easier-calving bulls to produce stockbulls for weanling producers will mean that any heifers you keep from that cross won’t be the type of cow I’m after,’’ explained Seamus. Jenny is scanned back in calf to Harestone Hercules and due to calve in the autumn.