Crossbreeding Ireland

Rossmore Dairy Crossbreeding Ireland

Rossmore Dairy at the foot of the Knockmealdown Mountains in South Tipperary is one of Ireland's earliest crossbreeding adapters starting already in the early 90’s with cows being 3 way crossed as early as 1998. Moorepark studies show that this leads to, increased fertility, longer herd life, higher efficiency, lower veterinary costs, lower calving assists/losses and fewer metabolic problems from freshly calved cows. So in a milk quota situation, production remained static while costs were reduced by keeping healthier more efficient animals.

Crossbreeding Ireland
3 Solaris daughters

Crossbreeding Ireland
CFD (KiWi X) x LAX(Monty)

Rossmore Dairy herd has used NZ Jersey genetics on Scandinavian Red x Fr cows since 2003 because they’re the most efficient grass based milk producers in the world; producing more milk solids per kg bodyweight than any other breed. Lighter cows do less damage to the land when grazing in wet weather. Only Jersey bulls with positive health traits are chosen with positive Body Condition Scores used as a marker for Genetic Appetite. The 50%Jer/25%Fr/25%SR are great producers with deep chests, great udders, great feet/legs, they go in calf to 1st service and maintain good body condition while producing. Because of the harsh conditions, breeding for good hoof health has always been high on the agenda, hoof paring has been phased out with just a few cows who pick up stones been looked at per annum.

Crossbreeding Ireland
CFD + WLT

Crossbreeding Ireland
CFD x JIS

Rossmore Dairy has a 3 year plan to produce 450kgs of milk from cows weighing 450kgs, feeding 150kgs of concentrates, milking once/day with a replacement rate of 10%. Once a day milking was introduced in 2011 and successfully reduced running costs, herd health has increased, additional labour costs have been slashed and quality of life has improved. There was an initial drop in production in 2012 to acclimatise cows but 2015 production is back on par with 2011. With milk quotas gone in 2015 Rossmore Dairy is well poised to increase its output from 50tonnes of Milk Solids to 90 tonnes of milk solids per annum without substantially increasing costs but there is no plans to return to twice/day milking.

Crossbreeding Ireland
CFD

Crossbreeding Ireland
Joskin and MurMur daughters

Rossmore Dairy is consistently in the Top 10 EBI herds in the country over the last 5 years, with a present herd EBI of €215. According to Prof Frank Buckley in Moorepark Cross-breeding with Jersey is worth an extra €200 EBI, this puts the actual herd EBI at €415. Rossmore Dairy is Irelands only fully crossbred Dairy operation with 95% of the herd being 3 and 4 way cross. With a calving interval of 361 days Rossmore Dairy herd was recognised by Frank Buckley as being among the most fertile herd in the country, this pays dividends when producing milk from grass, lower replacement rates increases the amount of land producing milk. Cows are rarely checked by the vet for fertility and fertility drugs are rarely used.

Crossbreeding Ireland
Joskin and Solaris daughters.

Crossbreeding Ireland
Joskin X Jurist

Rossmore Dairy herd is bred for increased Genetic Appetite resulting in aggressive grazers with less reliance on bought in concentrate feeds. Aggressive grazers maintain higher body condition levels during lactation, keeping cows healthier, fertile, more productive and stress free. Concentrate feeding in the dry season isn't necessary because cows end their lactation in calving down condition. Skinny cows often stand by the hedge when it rains while fleshier (warmer) cows continue grazing. Stronger cows have more reserves to fall back on if they run into trouble, the HF cows we milked continued to lose weight for the first 6 months after calving often finishing lactation in condition score 2.5. Rossmore Dairy Farm has a good range of wet and dry land resulting in a long grazing season, so the farm can handle wet weather and drought quite well, but the farm is extremely hilly and exposed, the cows have to climb a 500m hill and walk 2km daily to get to pasture, so they need to be fit and strong. A 10 month grazing season means there’s less reliance on slurry storage lowering the pollution risk.

Crossbreeding Ireland
PSQ

Due to the crossbreeding policy and selection for longevity Rossmore Dairy cows have a longer (1-2 years) than average herd life, surplus cows are sold annually to other producers going on to produce well for a few more years, just 1%/annum of cows from Rossmore Dairy go to the factory, compared to 20%/annum on other farms. 50 cows with an average EBI of €180 were sold in Jan 2013 to a start up farmer in Wexford, because the breeding policy and farming method generates lots of excess animals, the cows are all good producers, there’s little mastitis, fertility or lameness problems so cows last a long time.