“Better breeding equals breeding better”

Dairy farmers from across the country were in attendance at the Mountain Pure Friesian herd, hosts of the IHFA Pure Friesian Open day on the 19th July.The word was out that this was a Pure Friesian herd worth seeing. The herd had successfully competed in the finals of the National Herds Competition, winning second place in the Spring section in 2016 and third place in 2017. The herd won 1st place in the Friesian Club’s Herds Competition in 2016 and 2017.

Three generations of the Spillane family are all involved. Michael along with his wife Sandra and family have developed the herd since taking over from his father, Sean, 22 years ago. The herd is homebred, built on cow families notably the Aileen’s, Rosie’s, Petula, Averil, Dixie and Gloria.The total area farmed is 135 acres in total consisting of four separate parcels. Stocking rate on the milking platform is 1.2 cows/acre. Herd production average last year was 8,157kgs milk, 3.80% fat, 3.60% protein, 607kgs milk solids. The mature herd is averaging 675kgs milk solids.
Average calving interval was 367 days with an average lactation length of 313 days.

77% of the herd classified in the top two grades on IHFA Classification, VG or EX with all heifers classifying between 80 and 86 points. Out of the 13 highest classified Pure Friesian cows in Ireland, nine are in the herd and is home to the highest classified home-bred cow Mountain Tormore Aileen EX94 5E.The official opening was performed by Jackie Cahill TD, former president of ICMSA. He wished the Spillanes a successful Open Day and as a dairy farmer himself he was very impressed with the quality of the cows.

Jackie continued that the herd was an ideal representation of the importance of family farms to the community. He paid tribute to the quality of the Mountain herd and said they should take great pride in the high standard of dairying, he said the large crows in attendance was testament to the esteem which the herd is held. Jackie continued “The family farm model whereby the family can earn a decent living and is involved in the local community is so important to rural Ireland. This is what we as leaders must encourage and work towards to achieve. If dairy farming is going well then rural Ireland is going well which means that Ireland Inc is also going well.”

Michael, on behalf of Sandra and himself and the extended family, extended a warm welcome to one and all to the Pure Friesian Open Day. In his comments he was reflective of a family embedded in and making their living from a pure Friesian cow.“It is a momentous occasion for us to host the Pure Friesian Open Day and we are humbled that our Mountain herd has been selected. We have thoroughly enjoyed developing the herd over the years and this reflects our passion for and interest in the breed; better breeding equals breeding better.

“The Friesian Breed has served us well down through the years, the key advantages are obvious and it is so important that the Breed should publicly showcase its strengths. The lifetime yield, excellent fertility with a regular calving pattern provides for an easy-care herd having tremendous longevity and a valuable cull cow at the end. Turnover from the sale of bulls, cull cow and calf value is a unique characteristic of the Friesian breed which is all too often overlooked. This added value derived from these aspects cannot be underestimated.”

He thanked the many people who helped to make the day possible, his parents and family, the Pure Friesian Club Officers and Committee members, Volac who are the main sponsors, IHFA CE and staff,
the Tipperary Waterford Club and all who helped out with stewarding as well as the auctioneer Colin Johnston.

There was a presentation of the Herds ompetition winners and also a presentation to the winners of the Stock Judging.

Stock Judging

The Open Stock Judging was well attended with over 120 competing. Judge Paul Hannah of Lisnalty herd, Limerick, gave reasons on the three classes and the prize giving followed. The following are the results for the three age categories.

Under 18
1st – James Julian, Cashel, Co. Tipperary 1271
2nd – Michael Blake, Ballincurry 1251
3rd – Josephine McCarthy, Mullinahone, Co. Tipperary 1239

18 – 26 years
1st – Jack Walsh, Scartaglen, Killarney 1261
2nd – Donal Coppinger, Tiaquin, Galway 1253
3rd – Robert Kuiper, The Netherlands 1215
– Owen Laffan, Kilfinny, Adare, Co. Limerick 1215

Over 27 years
1st – Denis Dalton, Ardboy, Co. kilkenny 1299
2nd – Maurice Harty, Ballyheigue, Co. Kerry 1297
3rd – Noel Hennessy, Lismore, Co. Waterford 1289

There was a presentation to Paul Hannan, Lisnalty who officiated as judge on the day. The ladies were presented with a bunch of flowers by IHFA President Kathleen Watson.

Herds Competition 

The results of the Irish Pure Friesian Herds Competition were announced with presentations made to the top three herds on the day. The results were as follows:

1st Micheal Spillane, Mountain 1756
2nd Peadar Healy, Firoda 1617
3rd Pat Cleary, Carrickshock 1580
4th Trevor Dudley, Kilsunny 1411
5th Michael Dempsey, Barrowvale 1362
6th Francis Fitzgerald, Gortfadda 1242

Highest EBI

Michael Dempsey, Barrowvale 134

Charles Gallagher CE of IHFA congratulated the Spillanes on hosting the day and the quality of the herd which was a showcase for the Friesian breed. He commented of the need to further explore the qualities of the breed as an easy care farmer friendly cow and that the genetic index needs to evolve to recognize the slower maturity of this breed.

Click here for Report

Martin Crowe, Chairman Irish Pure Friesian Club, Charles Gallagher, CE IHFA, Breda Spillane (mother), Sandra & Micheal Spillane of the Mountain Herd, hosts of the Irish Pure Friesian Open Day 2017, Kathleen Watson, President IHFA, Sean Spillane (father), Jack Spillane (Son) with Lucy, Heather, Emily & Nell
Martin Crowe, Chairman Irish Pure Friesian Club with the winners of the Over 27 years Stock Judging. Noel Hennessy, Co. Waterford (3rd), Maurice Harty, Co. Kerry (2nd) and Denis Dalton, Co. Kilkenny (1st) with IHFA President Kathleen Watson at the Pure Friesian Open Day on the Spillane family farm, Mountain herd, Tullamaine, Fethard, Co. Tipperary.
Martin Crowe, Chairman Irish Pure Friesian Club; Bill O’Keeffe, Pure Friesian Club; Joe Nolan, Farm Business Development Manager, Zurich Insurance (sponsor); Pat Cleary, Carrickshock herd, Co. Kilkenny (3rd), Peadar Healy, Firoda herd, Co. Kilkenny (2nd) and Micheal Spillane, Mountain herd, Co. Tipperary (1st) with IHFA President Kathleen Watson and Donal Carey, IHFA Field Officer, at the Pure Friesian Open Day on the Spillane family farm, Mountain herd, Tullamaine, Fethard, Co. Tipperary.