‘What Angus Can Do At Grass’ Open Day Focus on August 19
By Julie Hazelton
All roads will lead to Fivemiletown in County Tyrone on Saturday 19th August for the Northern Ireland Aberdeen Angus Club’s Open Day.
The ‘What Angus Can Do At Grass’ themed event, hosted by club vice-chairman Ian Browne and family, commences at 2.00pm, and takes place at Cavanaleck, 467 Belfast Road, Fivemiletown, County Tyrone, BT75 0SE.
The afternoon itinerary includes a farm walk, stockjudging competition, clipping demonstration given by Peter Lamb, and a BBQ sponsored by ABP/Linden. The results of the club’s annual herd competition, kindly sponsored by WK Powell and Sons Agricultural Supplies, will also be announced by County Sligo judge Bernard Kerins.
Ian Browne, and son Harry, farm 300 acres and run a herd of 100 pedigree Aberdeen Angus cows, alongside a ten-cow Hereford herd, and an extensive free-range poultry enterprise producing fresh eggs. They are ably assisted by Richard Smyton and Roy Hall.
The Clogher Valley Herd was founded in 2009 and originally comprised of 20 cows. The herd increased significantly in late 2019, following the purchase of the noted Strule Herd, owned by the late Jim Jack, a former breed society president, and his wife May, who were retiring from farming at the time.
The suckler herd is managed commercially on a low input system. “Being a native cattle breed, the Aberdeen Angus is versatile and ideally suited to a grass-based system,” explained Ian, who is firmly focused on sustainability and good grassland management.
Strong emphasis is placed on using lime, and maximising clover in grass swards to reduce the need for artificial fertiliser. “This is a DAERA technology demonstration farm, and over the years we’ve took advantage of benchmarking, and multiple agri-environment schemes aimed at protecting and enhancing wildlife habitats and the landscape.”
Projects have included watercourse stabilisation and the regeneration of woodland. “We have also planted significant lengths of hedges and created tree enhanced stockproof boundaries,” added Ian.
Ian Browne prefers medium-sized cows, and attributes the success of his profitable suckler enterprise to a combination of attention-to-detail, proven genetics, and the breed’s longevity, ease of calving, mothering ability and milk traits.
Stock bulls are sourced privately from local pedigree breeders. Ian selects bulls on conformation and stature, good bloodlines, and figures. “I like AI-bred bulls with depth of pedigree, good breed character and a nice head, and sound feet and legs. Visual appearance comes first, and is backed up by estimated breeding value figures.”
Bulls currently used within the herd have been purchased from County Fermanagh herd owners Alan Morrison (Drummeer) and Caolan McBrien (Old Barr).
Heifers calve into the herd at around twenty-six-months of age, but Ian and Gillian are planning to reduce this to around twenty-four-months.
The suckler herd grazes the species rich pasture from April to early autumn.
“The Aberdeen Angus cows have a nice temperament and are great mothers. Around 95% of the herd calves unassisted. The cows look after themselves and produce a healthy calf,” added Ian.
The calves are weaned late winter. Around 15 bulls are selected and reared for breeding to fulfil the demand from repeat pedigree and commercial suckler herd customers. The remainder of the male calves are sold off-farm as stores, again to regular customers who are members of an Aberdeen Angus accredited beef scheme.
Ian added: “The cattle are early maturing and thrive on grass. I am getting good prices for strong stores coming straight out of the field. Selling stores suits my system, as I don’t have enough housing to finish them myself, and I’m also saving on expensive concentrates.
“I retain 20 heifers annually as herd replacements, and others are sold in-calf to suckler farmers. The remaining heifers are sold to a local butcher and beef finishers.”
During the farm walk a CAFRE adviser will give a presentation highlighting the financial efficiency of managing and producing beef cattle on a low-input grass-based system.
Club members and farmers with an interest in Aberdeen Angus cattle, and profitable beef production, are welcome to attend.
To facilitate catering arrangements, please confirm attendance with club secretary Cathy O’Hara on 07968 868001, or email: [email protected]