The View from Northern Ireland: William and Andrew McCollum manage the 300-cow herd of Ballycairn Holsteins and replacement heifers at their farm just outside Coleraine in Northern Ireland. William initially founded the herd in the early 1970’s. However following a disease outbreak it was depopulated and re-established again in 1998 with youngstock purchased from the UK, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Canada and Italy.

The aim of the new herd was to focus on performance and profitability with heifers being selected for high production potential of milk, fat and protein. These included daughters of Mascot and Delta Webster which delivered high yields in the first lactation. However the McCollums realised that as a result of this drive for production, fertility and other management issues became evident.  On the other hand, daughters of bulls such as Novalis, Lord Lily, Rudolph and Mtoto while producing less milk in their first lactation were easier to get back in calf again, producing more milk in second and subsequent lactations.

Breeding policy in the herd is now firmly focussed on a balance of improving health and fitness traits, together with good functional udders, legs and feet, alongside milk, fat and protein. The quality of the Ballycairn Herd and the excellent results achieved are testimony to the success of the breeding policy.

Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI) is their first sire screening tool used by the McCollums and only 6-8 bulls are used in the herd each year.

The McCollum family have kindly agreed to host an open day, in conjunction with CAFRE, Dairy Herd Management and Genus/ABS staff at 204 Ballycairn Road, Coleraine on Tuesday 27 August 11-2pm

The Open Day will feature:

·         Sire dams/Sire daughters/Cow families – Stock display
·         Explanation of £PLI and the practical benefits of using it
·         Practical demonstration of using a Herd Genetic Report for sire selection

Lunch, kindly sponsored by Dairy Herd Management and Genus/ABS, is being provided for those that book their place in advance. Please phone Ciaran on 028 7034 1073 by Friday 23 August

For biosecurity purposes please ensure that clean clothing and footwear are worn.  In field parking will be available opposite the farm-yard for clean vehicles only. No trailers are permitted. Sign posts giving directions will be in position on the Castlerock Road out of Coleraine.

Update By CAFRE

Pictured: Host farmer Andrew McCollum (second left) discusses arrangements for the Open day with John Sayers, Genus/ABS, Gary Watson, Dairy Herd Management and David Mackey, CAFRE