A Duo of Diamond Awards for the Boynevale Herd 

– A result of many years of dedication to quality breeding

Boynevale Eden Sunshine EX94 4E & Boynevale Dana’s Delight EX93 5E achieve IHFA production milestone heartily working away as youthful 13-year-olds with a combined 18 lactations

by Donal Carey

The Boynevale herd of Brendan and Dorothy Mennis & family has achieved not one but two IHFA Diamond Awards in the past year and both mature award recipients continue as hard-working, healthy and resilient senior members of the herd. IHFA Diamond Award is conferred on registered Holstein Friesian cows in Ireland achieving 3,000kgs protein production and scored EX (Excellent) on classification conformation standard. Brendan comments, “It’s our very first Diamond Award achievement. To receive two in the same year is great. 

“We are delighted with the recognition as both cows are testament to the production efficiency and longevity that exists within the breed. 

“Both cows are bred from very successful families, backed by several generations of high-quality dams. It’s a vindication for many years of dedication to quality breeding”.

Nestled amidst the historic and picture-perfect Boyne Valley region, the Mennis family farm is located in Co. Meath close to Navan on the Slane road. Brendan and Dorothy have five children, with second-eldest, Jack, very interested in farming and pedigree breeding. Jack previously spent a period of time living in Canada gaining valuable experience working for Harold and Miriam Sweetnam on their pedigree dairy herd in the province of Manitoba.   The herd includes 13 EX (excellent) cows. Milk recorded production last year was 9,000kgs milk, 631kgs milk solids per cow with an SCC of 70. Both Diamond Award cows were recently pictured on farm, both now aged 13 years old, looking youthful and at their ease. They continue to yield high volumes of milk and milk solids daily. 

To date, their combined lifetime milk solids production totals 13,363kgs, an average production of 6,681kgs milk solids per cow. To put this into context, the average or base cow in Ireland yields 419kgs milk solids per lactation (2019 data), so it would take the base cow 15.9 lactations to equal the same lifetime production of milk solids. Both EX94 4E and EX93 5E mature cows are very much part of the herd overall, there is no special or individual treatment provided. Their respective IHFA classification conformation scores means that they are classed in the very top category bracket that is attainable. 

This top merit of conformation standard inextricably links functional body traits with lifetime longevity capability. It also brings to bear the inherent high-quality of both cows.  Both cows rank among the top quartile of milk value cows in the herd’s annual milk recording performance report for 2020. Both were part of the winning Best Group of 3 Senior Cows award in the local North Eastern Holstein Friesian Breeders’ Club Herds’ Competition 2019.  Brendan reflects, “Previously we might have been guilty of following apparent fashionable herd management trends of moving through the generations too quickly. Hindsight can be revealing. 

“Looking back now some culling decisions made were heavy-handed with haste. Older cows were moved out the herd to make way for heifers in a misguided assumption that all young stock were multiple times more rewarding, almost fool proof, just because they were of newer genetics

“A balance has to be struck in terms of the optimal herd replacement rate. We must always realise and appreciate good older cows for their health, mature production, ability to go back in calf, low-maintenance and proven performance credentials.

“The IHFA Gold and Diamond Awards are the only awards that I know of that give credit, recognition and a worthy platform to this cohort of valuable, mature cows having excellent longevity. “

Boynevale Dana’s Delight EX93 5E DMD

  •       Lifetime yield to date of 100,497kgs milk, 7,109kgs milk solids, 3.85% fat, 3.23% protein
  •       Calved in on her 10th lactation last October, breaking through the 3,000kgs protein production milestone
  •       4th generation home-bred VG/EX dam bred from the International high-ranking Snow-N Denises Dellia EX95 2E cow family
  •       Scored EX97 on legs & feet

“She really fits the bill” comments Brendan. 

“She is the type of cow you’d like to have more of in the herd. She’s a middle of the road, durable, hard-working cow who is balanced throughout. I would describe her evolution into a mature cow as steady, with incremental development. 

“As a heifer she classified GP84, with a subsequent steady increase in conformation points per parity thereafter, going from a VG86 2ndcalver, then VG87 in her 3rd and VG89 in her 4th, before attaining Excellent (EX) in her 6th lactation. 

“Truly, it wasn’t until she was in her 5th lactation when she recorded 10,524kgs milk, 723kgs milk solids in a 304-day lactation that we started to take notice of her. 

“She is sired by Ramos, who I note is a high lifetime merit bull” adds Brendan. 

The fact that her 10th calf born last October, a heifer calf sired by Frazzled was the result of a successful conception to sexed semen, speaks volumes about the attributes of this special cow. Her milking daughters include Boynevale Delights Dora GP83 by Ladd P, Boynevale Perseus Dellia by Westcoast Perseus who scored GP 83 as a fresh heifer, Boynevale Wyman Delight VG85 2-year-old, and Guarini daughter Boynevale Delights Dinah EX92 3E, who is in her sixth lactation having yielded 62,000kgs milk, 4,100kgs milk solids production to date. The Dellia family has truly flourished successfully at Boynevale; from an investment in embryos a number of branches of the family have a strong presence in the herd today. With the last ET born in 2000, there are today 51 naturally-born, registered female descendants in the herd. 

Boynevale Eden Sunshine EX94 4E DMD

  •       102,622kgs milk and 6,254kgs milk solids lifetime volume yield to date
  •       Classified EX96 legs and feet, EX94 mammary, EX92 body 
  •       5th generation VG/EX dam 
  •       1st Senior Cow Award in the North Eastern Club’s Premier Cow class 2019

Sired by Cradenhill Eden (CIX), this newly conferred Diamond Award recipient descends from a Cradenhill established cow family headlined by Cradenhill Buck Sunshine EX93 5E purchased by Brendan as a young calf at a Cradenhill on-farm sale. He picks up the story “She was a most impressive cow, with a stand-out frame in particular. She was sired by Besne Buck. Her dam line was a full North American pedigree with three of her next four dams all scored VG/EX – including Cedar-Crag Elevation Sungold EX95 3E – which all told really appealed to me”. In eight lactations she completed a total lifetime yield of 82,000kgs milk and 5,254kgs milk solids at Boynevale. As the 4th dam of Boynevale Eden Sunshine EX94 4E her breeding legacy is cemented. The cow family developed on via a VG88 Regancrest Emory Derry daughter who bred an Oliva Lausan Crew ET daughter – Boynevale Crew Sunshine EX92 2E. She had a lifetime longevity of eight lactations and a production yield slightly shy of the 3,000kgs protein landmark. 

After calving-in on her 8th lactation in early February this year, Diamond Award recipient Boynevale Eden Sunshine EX94 4E thus completes two consecutive generations of EX scored eight lactation dams. The next generations appear full of potential. Boynevale Wyman Sunshine EX91 2E is the highest scored daughter thus far who has bred promising young heifers by Pepper, Perseus and Casper. She is currently in her 5th lactation having recorded over 50,200kgs milk production so far. 

Her other milking daughter, Boynevale Jerudo Sunshine VG86, has bred Boynevale Darrel Sunshine Red GP83 fresh in her first lactation adding a new and colourful Red & White dimension to the family, scaling new horizons of genetics! Brendan surmises “Of course, a little bit of luck always helps. There’s no farmer who’ll ever go too far without that little bit of luck along the way”.

In conclusion he adds “I must praise the modern database systems of today where members’ on-farm performance data, such as milk recording and classification scoring is readily available with ease and comfort by pressing a few buttons on the mobile phone. This easy access to data certainly helps making informed decisions.”