In this week SUckler Focus, It’s farming, talks to Jim Geoghegan about Lisnagre Charolais. He talks about the calving of the heifers at 36 months, the presence of four bulls in the AI stations, the realization of €16,600 during a sale of the Irish Charolais Cattle society, the plans of the farm and his opinion on the reduction of the national herd.
Twenty-six years ago, Jim Geoghegan, of Stremstown, County Westmeath, established the Lisnagre-bred Charolais herd by acquiring Greyfog Lena, in Naas, on his break from work as a plasterer at Tallaght University Hospital .
Fourteen years later he invested in Ballydownan Small, his daughter, Ballydownan Violet and granddaughter, Ballydownan Corrie, from breeder Peter Smollen.
“Ballydowney Small was the highest index cow when I bought her. It has been the basis of many champions,” said Jim Geoghegan It’s farming.
Jim and his wife, Catherine, operate a 150-acre business comprising 55 purebred and commercial Charolais breeding females and 20 commercial Simmental cows, which act as beneficiaries.
“I’ve been self-employed on buildings for 40 years.”
“In 1976, I started in buildings at the age of sixteen, and in 1990, I took over the family business.”
Jim’s ideal cow is an easy-to-handle Charolais cow weighing 900 kg with a “beautiful head, with shape and style, a good topline and a docile nature.
“I love commercial Charolais cows. I got into purebred female breeding faster than I expected thanks to IVF treatment and ET work.
He uses 50% stock bulls and 50% AI in his farm’s breeding program.
He IA is the majority of pedigree heifers in line with ET work which he completes with Champion Embryos.
The AI bulls he uses include Jupiter (JPR), Domino (OMD), Major (MJR) and Pirate (PTE).
His Charolais stock bull mainly serves commercial cows.
“I had a bull, Lisnagre Elite, (LGL) at the Tully Test Center and in 2011 he was champion at the Tully Test Center and then NCBC bought him.”
The Ballydownan breeding line brought Jim ‘big’ openings for bulls at Irish AI stations.
These included Lisnagre Handsome (HJZ) with Dovea Genetics, Lisnagre Elite (LGL) with Progressive Genetics and Lisnagre Laurence (CH4285) with Dunmasc Genetics.
Jim chooses a calving time of September to March because there are up to 20 C-sections and to allow the bulls to grow for sales.
Jim’s herd has a gestation period of 290 days, with embryo induction also taking place at this interval.
“It’s easier to manage calving in November or December. The hair suits them well.
“If you enter the following February or March, the hair falls off the bulls. They don’t look as good.
“So for that, you have to put them down at the end of August to have them 15 months for company sales.”
“A 12-month-old bull is too young. He is at the end of the sale from the beginning because the sale is by age.
Jim calves his heifer at 36 months old, with benefits such as she is fully grown and has “enough power”.
“You don’t want to calve in July or August because you will have mastitis. Then April or May is too late to have them two years old.
Jim sells 50% of his heifers at one or two years for an average of €5,500 and keeps the rest.
He culls 5% of his cows annually due to hoof, fertility and mastitis issues.
Jim sells his commercial calves from 400kg each November to Tullamore Mart and Elphin Mart, averaging €2.40/kg.
“Trade is a bit better for market-weaned chicks this year. Expenses have reduced that with the way flour and fertilizer prices have moved. »
Jim brings 50% of his purebred Charolais bulls to Irish Charolais Cattle Society sales and sells the rest at the farm from 15-16 months.
“There is a good trade in bulls on the farm and a very good trade in heifers.”
Here is a list of some of the successes of the Geoghegan family:
- Overall Women’s Champion for Lisnagre Yvonne at the 2012 Tullamore Show;
- Received €13,500 for Lisnagrey Jasper at the 2015 Irish Charolais Cattle Society First Show and Sale at Elphin;
- Won the junior and senior heifer title at the 2017 Tullamore Show Calf Championship with Lisnagre Nora;
- Received €10,000 for Senior Male Champion, Lisnagre My Hero, at the 2018 Irish Charolais Cattle Society First Show and Sale at Elphin;
- Won €7,000 for Lisnagre Nero ET at the 2018 Irish Charolais Cattle Society Premier Show and Sale at Elphin;
- Raised €16,600 at the 2020 Irish Charolais Cattle Society sale with Lisnagre Peadar;
- Received €6,800 for Lisnagre Romeo ET, a pirate bull, from a Jupiter dam at the 2020 Irish Charolais Cattle Society Christmas Cracker sale.
Advice to breeders
Jim believes the key to success in the purebred cattle business is to “love what you do and keep your foot on the gas all the time”.
He encouraged aspiring breeders starting their pedigree herd to “buy the right female from the start.”
“You can’t be lax, daisy. You have to be very interested. »
” I like what I do ; I don’t consider it work. When I was working, I always wanted to be at home on the farm.
Business plans and the future of suckler farming
Jim hopes his son, James, an engineer, will return from Australia to take over the family farm in the future.
He plans to continue raising Charolais cattle with no plans to expand his territory or his number of cows.
“It takes a good weaned foal to buy a ton of fertilizer. So I don’t know where you’re going. We are at a crossroads with spending.
“I see a viable position for the nursing breeder for the person who does everything right.”
“Good cattle are essential. It costs as much to feed a bad stock as it does to feed a good stock. You must have top quality stock.
“Sales also become more difficult with rules and regulations. There is always something new. This does not seem to be in favor of the breeder.
He comments on the discussion on the reduction of the national herd.
“Reducing the national herd will happen automatically because people are going to downsize.”
“With fertilizer prices, you will have less stock, so the reduction of the national herd will happen automatically.”
“Maybe, not with dairy farming but with dry cattle, better quality and fewer in number,” the suckler farmer concluded.
To share your story as this lactating breeder, email Catherina Cunnane, Editor-in-Chief of It’s farming, – [email protected]
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