“The goal is to have a 100% polled herd”

This is Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, in conversation with Katie Corridan of Roundhill Limousins, Fedamore, County Limerick, on this week’s Suckler Focus.

“My name is Cathy Corridan and I’m from Fedamore, Co. I live on our family farm in Limerick. We have a herd of 200 large pedigree Limousin cattle with 100 breeding cows on 205 hectares divided into two farms.

Farming runs on both sides of my family. My father, Tim, raised veal beef in partnership with my next-door uncle, Maurice, who had been a dairy farmer all his life.

I have fond memories of raising milk calves before school and rushing after school to help my dad prepare the buckets.

My father always kept some commercial suckers and after he married my mother, Doreen, they started breeding stock.

In the beginning it was a combination of both Charolais and Limousins, but in recent times purely Limousin and slowly the herd has become full pedigree over time.

My dad’s sister Hanora also has a stud farm in Limerick and breeds stud horses, so it’s a full house of farmers interested in livestock over there.

On my mother’s side, my grandfather was a dairy farmer with purebred British Friesians and some Simmentals.

His passion for livestock is certainly passed down as four of his six children raise breeding stock (his other two aunts are very supportive!).

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Roundhill Limousines

Calving ease is absolutely essential for a grandpa; each of our cows must calve unaided.

My father farms full time, and both my mother and I work off the farm, taking every opportunity to farm in the evenings and weekends.

We chose to breed Limousin because they combine my father’s penchant for milkers with my mother’s love of quality cattle for milk and great mothering.

The foundations of our herd come from importing proven French females, often dams of very well bred bulls.

These include Giroflee (dam of Nenufar), Disette (dam of Ideal 23) and Melody (dam of Ramses). I regularly travel to Europe with my mother in search of new genetics.

Sometimes the hardest part is how to explain to my commercially minded father that a 10-year-old cow costs 10 suckling piglets.

Limousines participating in the survey

Traveling in Europe gave us the confidence to make the transition to breeding Limousines in the 2014 survey.

Our oldest surveyed cows are in their sixth lactation and equal to their horned counterparts. This spring, some of our repeat customers looked for their next polled bull because they didn’t want to dust the horn.

Granted, we use mostly AI with some ET work with a bull for spring cleaning.

JK Miro, our stock bull, is the complete package for me; excellent quality, easy calving and most importantly a gentle soul that loves scratches. Destruction is very important for modesty, but breeding is also very important for it.

My ideal cow would be functionality – the perfect balance of show quality with milk, productivity and correctness. The goal is to have a 100% polled herd while continuing to breed for these traits and maintain breed characteristics.

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Separated calving pattern

We have a split calving pattern from September to December and mid-January to April. This is mainly due to limited calving opportunities, but has the advantage of having strong bulls throughout the year.

If possible, we calve all heifers between 24 and 26 months; it requires a little more management, but I think it’s worth it in the long run to maximize profits.

We sell bulls for breeding, usually between 14-18 months, mostly in the fall/spring. In addition, every two years we have a calf and daughter mix sale for our heifers.

All our herds are genotyped; As we are members of the DNA calf registration program, we do this at birth.

As breeders, this is very important to verify the ancestry, which gives both ourselves and the buyer confidence. Because we breed for depredation, genotyping can tell us exactly if an animal was polled or horned at a young age.

The rising cost of entries has certainly been a challenge this year. We used less fertilizer, aiming to focus more on managing clover and sedges, which can be more difficult with suckers.

Fortunately, I completed my Green Certificate last year which gave me a greater appreciation and understanding of grass measurement, fertilizer application and soil sampling.

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Dairy farming

I am passionate about suckler farming and its place in Irish agriculture. I love the development of the bond between mother and calf and watching that calf grow into a breeding stock.

Nothing can beat that feeling of pride. I also think that wet farming gives us a unique opportunity to work with the soil in some of the more challenging environments where other farming practices are not suited, and that should be applauded.

Often the best suckers are found in harder soils; we sold bulls to farmers in the Burren and Beara Peninsula.

Growing up I always had a calf to show at the summer shows and it was often a difficult farewell to my calves at the society sales.

Agricultural shows made a welcome return this summer after a three-year hiatus; it was great to be back to meet everyone.

Many of our good family friends are known through the show and our local Limousine club, South West.

I attended the Limerick Show at the start of college in 2015 and have been the cattle secretary ever since. We are always looking for new members; our show is next weekend, sunday 28th augustc2022.

The future of agriculture

I think the future of farming is bright and especially great to see #WomenInAg becoming more mainstream.

Women have always been an integral part of Irish farms, but it has often been seen as a male-dominated industry. My mother, Doreen, and my aunt, Rosalish, taught me the basics of raising and judging cattle.

Being an only daughter, I was very fortunate to have great female role models who are much needed in agriculture. I sincerely hope that gender will not be a limiting factor for a successful career in agriculture in the future.

Managing my time is very difficult and I know this is not unique to my situation with many dairy farmers who work off the farm.

I don’t always get the balance right, but that’s one of the benefits of a family farm where everyone works together.

Farming is definitely a way of life, but it’s hard to find anything that compares to the pure happiness and satisfaction it brings.

I have always loved riding horses and farming has allowed me to keep two horses at home that live alongside the cattle. “I love my animals and I can’t imagine life without them.”

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