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BALLYCAIRN - BREEDING
DIVERSITY AT ITS BEST
Andrew McCollum is a young Northern Irish
corrective matings in a pedigree,
avoiding, for example, three
farmer working to optimise his milk price generations of low fat sires.
within the constraints of the volatile market,
Each country provided a different
type of animal for the Ballycairn
the farm system he has and the cows he has
herd. For example, although the
Dutch cattle were the highest
brought into the herd. With this in mind,
component cattle, the Italian
Sarah Liddle was interested to see how he is
cattle were the most expensive
at the time but had the best
achieving this at Ballycairn pedigrees, and consequentially
T
gave the most milk.
oday’s herd at Ballycairn unfortunately has a relatively short
Cattle were also sourced from
history. In 1998, the herd was depopulated due to the scourge of
Germany, Denmark, Canada,
Brucellosis. Prior to this, selection had focused on increasing milk yields
Southern Ireland and the UK. The
by selecting production sires. The restocking period gave Andrew a
initial purchases provided a strong
chance to travel around Europe as well as North America. In doing so,
grounding for the herd today.
he saw many cattle and enterprises making him realise and appreciate
Some of the purchases lacked
the type of cattle and breeding which would become crucial at
wearability, mainly due to the
Ballycairn.
Bellwood and Mascot blood in
A total of 200 head were bought for restocking, aged from calves to
them giving high volumes of milk
in-calf heifers. It was a conscious decision; there would be reduced losses
for two years but not sustaining
of stock moving them at this younger age and it was also easier from a
fi nancial perspective purchasing this age of cattle.
ABOVE LEFT Ballycairn Shottle
In hindsight, looking back over the last ten years (with Ballycairn being
Belle VG86 is a 7th generation VG
the highest PLI herd in the UK right now, incidental due to their criteria
or EX, from a EX91 Addison who
according to Andrew), purchasing from a number of sources must have
has bred 1 EX and 4 VG daughters.
been relatively shrewd. Selection was based purely on cow families with
desirable sire stacks that appealed to the McCollums.
ABOVE RIGHT Ballycairn Garter
They did also choose a few cattle of higher genetic merit than the
Tinnie VG86 is the second highest
previous herd. After all, as Andrew says, we have more knowledge
PLI cow in the UK and has sons on
on the bulls in a pedigree these days. Therefore, he was looking for
test by a number of AI companies.
22 THE JOURNAL OCTOBER 2009
e5-09 Ballycairn.indd 2 23/09/2009 12:36:10
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