Derrydale Holstein Friesian Herd – Paschal and Irene Walsh & family

An IHFA Laois Offaly Club host profile

Derrydale Holsteins in Edenderry, Co. Offaly, is run by Paschal and Irene Walsh with their two sons Bobby and Evan.

Our farm is made up of 60 hectares owned and 35 hectares rented from my brother, John. Currently there are 199 cows with 180 milking and 19 are dry. We calve 60% in the spring and 40% in the autumn. Replacement heifers are contract reared each spring in Kilcormac by Michael Guinan. We send 75 heifers each year and they come back in the late autumn to be wintered.The most recent milk recording report for the herd was 612kgs of fat and protein. Our first lactation heifers produced 520kgs of fat and protein. The average yield for that day was 27.6 litres of milk.

There were 1.2 million litres produced in 2019 with 92,476kgs of milk solids at 4.01% fat and 3.42% protein. The herd was established by my father in 1958 with 20 Friesian cows. He supplied milk for the Dublin District Milk Board. The cows were bred to AI using the panel of sires available from the local AI station in Enfield.

My brother John and I began a partnership to continue to grow the farm with the purchase of Ardbash farm where the milking herd is now located and moved to a Holstein type cow in the 1980’s. The Holstein breed had better feed efficiency to milk than the Friesian cows. The first pedigree Holstein cows were purchased in 1989 (Egremont and Cairnbrae). These cows were flushed, and embryo transfer was employed to grow the herd. Now they are the backbone of the herd today.

There are several other families in the herd as well with Charlotte, Peach, Rowena, Gail, Darlene, Penny, Royalty, Lima, Ebony, Edie, Susiemist, Crystal and Vixen. We focus on producing high quality silage each year and as a result we cut in early May. This includes the rented land and 20 hectares of our own land. This first cut is usually the largest and takes the pressure off the farm for the rest of the summer as the second and third cuts are smaller.

In August, after the three cuts of silage we zero graze cows using our rented land. This allows us to keep grass into the diet for as long as possible and utilise this land which is far away.

Rosstemple Rampage Darlene VG 88

Lifetime production: 79,153kgs milk, 6,225kgs of solids

Daughter: Derrydale Ross Darlene (1735) – 36,774kgs milk, 2,994kgs milk solids

Granddaughter: Derrydale Golden boy Darlene (0062) – 10,426kgs milk and 788kgs milk solids predicted.

Derrydale Lavanguard Egremont

2nd lactation: 9,365kgs of milk 706kgs of milk solids

Daughter (AXN): 8,570kgs of milk in 2nd lactation at 3.54% protein and 4.73% fat

Derrydale Gold Crown Peach (0041)

4th lactation – 9,410kgs of milk and 764kgs of milk solids

Daughter: predicted 6,547kgs of milk and 502 kgs of milk solids

When selecting bulls, the criteria used are +400kgs of milk and +40kgs of milk solids. Good type is also looked at for chest width, feet, and legs. Sexed semen is also a critical part of breeding which has drastically reduced the number of bull calves.I never consider EBI as important, as it doesn’t take account for all the traits I consider important. I want cows to have efficiency at food conversion and capacity to deliver strong beef calves if they are not breeding replacements. Our cows can easily manage with large Belgian blue calves which other breeds would struggle with.

The IHFA services have brought me into contact with other breeders and helped me to learn from their experience. My sons are learning the importance of cow families and breeding from events and shows. The Laois Offaly Club have always been supportive and developed my interest in stock judging and herds competitions.

  • We won Intermediate Senior Cow with Laois Offaly in the Herds Competition, 2019.
  • Evan won the Laois Offaly Calf Show and won his class in the Tullamore Show in 2019 with 770 Derrydale Ebony Aladdin.
  • In 1993 the farm won the top RBI in Ireland was a major achievement. There have also been a few Quality Milk Awards won over the years.
  • We came first in the Laois Offaly Silage Competition for 2019.

Laois Offaly is a small club made up of great members who meet up throughout the year to compare our notes and learn off each other. Social occasions and talks given by guest speakers at club meetings and stock judging are a great source of information. The field evenings are great occasions each summer to look forward to each year.

(First published in 2020)