Beef Focus: Breeding Angus bulls in the land of dairy cows

Based outside Carrigaline in County Cork, Eustace Burke is a purebred Angus breeder and proud owner of the Herd of Clontad Angus.

Burke’s farm is 60 acres in size and impressive attention to detail is evident in every aspect of his farm, which is home to 30 purebred Angus cows and their offspring.

The March sun was shining and Angus cattle were grazing comfortably in green paddocks when Agriland visited the farm.

History of the land

Eustace explained that a lot of work has been done to improve the land on the farm, saying that more than 80% of the farm has been recovered gorse and brush.

The farm was purchased by his late father in the early 80’s and started as a cattle business. The Burkes then turned to suckler cattle and began to focus primarily on purebred Angus cattle.

The farm is mostly dry land, but has a shallow ground cover. Eustace said most of the fields cannot be plowed, so they are reseeded using a disc harrow.

Eustace works off-farm with artificial insemination (AI) company Munster Bovine and works primarily with dairy farmers in the South Cork region. His mother Deirdre also helps run the farm at home.

He is currently preparing for a sale of bulls at his farm which is to take place on Thursday March 31 at 7:00 p.m.

The bulls that will be sold in March are overwintered on the Brassica Redstart crop.

A total of 5.5 acres of Redstart was seeded last August and was used to overwinter 15 bulls.

Eustace explained that the crop is divided into 30-foot corridors with electric fences and a strip wire is moved daily during the winter.

Overwintering bulls have access to a layer of grass as well as ad libitum silage and a small amount of concentrates.

Calving and rearing

the Herd of Clontad Angus is mainly calved in the fall and uses 100% AI bulls for breeding.

Eustace explained that although he produces bulls for the pedigree market, his target market is primarily dairy producers looking for a calving easy, short gestation bull with good carcass numbers.

“We breed for replacement value, carcass weight and milk in the pedigree,” he said. Agriland.

“Our target market is dairy farmers, but we have a supply of bulls that would be sold to pedigree breeders.”

Eustace imports Angus bull semen and says he is “always chasing the next big name Angus bull”.

The grazing season on the farm generally extends from the beginning of February to the end of October.

Calving begins in September and takes place indoors. Once the cows have calved, they are turned back to grass until housing at the end of October.

Calves are weaned from cows 60 days after calving, but first calves are given a 90 day dry period.

Sale of Angus bulls

Eustace explained that the bulls he produces have an average gestation length of 280 days, but also said he has some bulls with shorter gestations and others with longer gestations.

“We can give the birth weight and gestation length of each of our bulls. Five of the bulls we have in our next sale are in the top 1% for replacement and another three are in the top 10% for replacement,” he said.

“11 of our bulls are in the top 10% for beef carcass and two bulls are in the top 1% for carcass.

“Every dairy farmer who comes here for a bull does one of two things: they either seek out that premium calf, or they finish the cattle themselves, or they get their calves purchased by determined buyers.

“We sell bulls that produce calves of 35-45kg birth weight and anything above or below that is of no interest to us,” Eustace concluded.

The on-farm auction will take place on Thursday, March 31, in conjunction with Cork Marts and MartEye. Timed presale auctions will be available on MartEye starting Tuesday, March 29.