Spring-calving herd including 32 EX (Excellent) cows recording 584 kgs milk solids/cow

Longevity is a strong feature captured through conformation performance by IHFA independent scoring service.

 Martin and Michael Kennedy & family’s Glenrea herd is a tremendous example of Holstein Friesian efficiency and output, achieving top benchmarks in terms of performance. The herd includes 32 EX (excellent) cows on IHFA conformation scoring with 73% of the herd classified in the top two categories of VG/EX. It is a 97% spring calving herd with just four cows milked through the winter months last year. Herd milk recording for 2018 was 7,803kgs milk, 4.00% fat, 3.48% protein, 584kgs milk solids per cow. Herd EBI is €109 with SCC of 102. Calving interval average for the herd is 378 days with lactation length averaging 318 days.

 42% of the herd is fourth lactation or older, exemplifying tremendous fertility and longevity. There are fifteen cows in their seventh lactation or older and all fifteen are classified excellent (EX).  The Kennedy family farm is located in Bridestown, Kildinan in North Cork. It is 7.5kms west of Rathcormac on the R614 road towards Glenville, 15kms south west of Fermoy town.

 Dynamic Father & Son duo

Martin and Michael are a formidable and innovative father and son team. Martin works off-farm with O’Dwyer Steel, Dundrum, covering all of County Cork. Michael farms full-time at home having completed his Ag. College studies. He won the Kildalton College Student of the Year Award in his final year of studies and went on to be highly commended runner-up in the Teagasc National Student of the Year Competition 2014. This performance is all the more impressive given that aged 21 at the time he was one of the youngest participants. Both are active members in their respective discussion groups. Martin’s group is known as the PHD Group (Positive Horizon Discussion) and was established over twenty years ago. Michael’s group consists mostly of young dairy farmers, with paternal links to the PHD group. Both praise the open-minded and educational forum of their groups and comment how much they have gained positively from being involved especially in the areas of grassland management and farm finance.   

 A dairy herd was established on the farm in 1980 just prior to the introduction of quotas. Six pedigree registered heifers were purchased at various breeders’ sales in the early years. These purchases proved valuable investments providing a platform of solid cow families with a legacy of tremendous breeding that continues today. The herd increased gradually over the years, growing from within by breeding and rearing all their own replacements. 

 Martin always had a deep interest in breeding and he relished the opportunity to shape the herd performance through breeding selection policy. Close attention was paid to breeding lines with detailed consideration afforded to mating decisions. He graded up the herd in 2005 with the assistance of IHFA field staff. 

 “Grading up was the logical next step as we had always maintained good records over the years. The service was straightforward, greatly helped by the level of records. Straight away it identified the powerful breeding of key cow families. We started classifying in 2009. It’s a very positive and helpful service which we value very highly. When a cow attains EX on conformation it is a very pleasing achievement as it confers an independent and evidence-based stamp of functionality and maturity which lends itself to a long lifetime of production and longevity. It also helps when offering stock for sale. The most recent classification inspection visit resulted in ten cows achieving EX (excellent) for the first time.”  The milking herd now consists of 140 cows and is regarded as the optimum number to suit the farm. All heifer calves are reared as replacements with surplus heifers offered for sale either calved or as maidens. Fifteen pedigree registered breeding bulls are reared and sold on an annual basis. 

 Breeding Focus

Breeding emphasis is to select for functional cows with correct type having power and strength, good feet & legs and correct udders. A.I. breeding is used for the majority of the breeding season. Pedigree sires are selected with a preference for daughter-proven. Spock, Vouster and Wyman are among the bulls who have worked particularly well.                        Oisin IDS 615 bred by Timothy Twomey, Banteer was a stock bull used to great effect in the past. He sired very consistant daughters including eleven cows who classified excellent. 

Herd performance is driven by the consistency of powerful cow families including Candy, Duchess, Ita, Bertha, Lulu, Miranda, Jill, Eileen, Grace, Princess, Sylvia.    


  •       Glenrea Oisin Candy EX92 6E in her 11th lactation is the oldest cow in the herd. As a heifer she calved in April ’09 and she calved with her 11th calf on January 27th this year. Still going strong in the herd, she will hopefully last for more lactations yet.
  •       Glenrea Dave Candy 2 EX91 4E now in her 10th lactation has bred three EX daughters to date, with all her daughters and one EX grand-daughter milking in the herd, completing three EX generations of this family with an average of seven completed lactations each, a stellar breeding feat.

Recorded Production performance of the three generations of EX milking cows in the herd;

Glenrea Dave Candy 2 EX91 4E – 7,177kgs milk, 545kgs milk solids/lactation (10 lactations)

Glenrea Spock Candy 3 EX92 4E – 7,035kgs milk, 530kgs milk solids/lactation  (7 lactations)

Glenrea ROX Candy 2 EX – 7,0912kgs milk, 492kgs milk solids/lactation (5 lactations) 

Maternal sisters to the Spock daughter include;

  •       Glenrea Ares Candy EX91 with 4 completed lactations averaging 8,672kgs milk, 676kgs milk solids, 4.41% fat, 3.39% protein.
  •       Glenrea Frank Candy EX92 6E with 9 completed lactations averaging 6,996kgs milk, 583kgs milk solids, 4.73% fat, 3.60% protein. Her YRD daughter is classified VG86 and has high constituents at 4.63% fat, 3.88% protein.


  •       Glenrea Reary Duchess 2 VG87 who recorded 7,345kgs milk, 580kgs milk solids, 4.10% fat, 3.79% protein in her 3rdlactation. She is the 3rd generation VG/EX. The Duchess family was the very first pedigree heifer purchased by Martin.


  •       The Ita family also trace back to one of the foundation pedigree heifers purchased. Glenrea Justin Ita EX is the third generation EX with her grand dam scoring EX94 5E. Having had five calves in five years she is projected to 7,146kgs, 565kgs milk solids, 4.32% fat, 3.68% protein in this lactation. 
  •       Her VG87 D Sol daughter recorded 7,157kgs milk, 559kgs milk solids, 4.30% fat, 3.51% protein in her previous lactation.

Other family members in the herd include Glenrea Luck Ita EX92 5E (11 lactations) and Glenrea Wyman Ita EX92 (4 lactations).


  •       Glenrea Twist Bertha VG89 with a lifetime recorded production per lactation of 7,015kgs milk, 579kgs milk solids, 4.51% fat, 3.71% protein. 
  •       She displays great fertility, gaining four days on calving interval on average, each lactation, in her first four lactations.   
  •       Glenrea AWB Bertha VG88 with a lifetime recorded production per lactation of 7,165kgs milk, 542kgs milk solids, 3.82% fat, 3.62% protein.


  •       Glenrea Wyman Miranda EX91 recorded 10,328kgs milk, 746kgs milk solids, 3.73% fat, 3.49% protein in her 4thlactation. 
  •       Her Dam Glenrea Spock Miranda 2 EX91 5E was awarded IHFA Diamond Cow status with a lifetime protein production of 3,031kgs.


  •       Glenrea Stallun Jill EX92 5E in her 5th lactation recorded 7,742kgs milk, 554kgs milk solids, 3.46% fat, 3.69% protein.
  •       Her daughter Glenrea AXN Jill VG88 recorded 6,233kgs milk, 484kgs milk solids, 4.10% fat, 3.65% protein in her 2ndlactation.


  •       Glenrea Vouster Jenny EX92 3E has recorded five consecutive lactations over 8,000kgs milk.


  •       Glenrea Crown Lulu EX90 3E with a lifetime recorded production average of 7,831kgs milk, 563kgs milk solids, 3.71% fat, 3.51% protein.


  •       Glenrea Oman Blue VG89 now in her 9th lactation in nine years. Her lifetime production per lactation averages 7,172kgs milk, 570kgs milk solids, 4.42% fat, 3.54% protein.


  •       Glenrea Keet Kim VG88 in her 8th lactation recorded 8,366kgs milk, 571kgs milk solids, 3.27% fat, 3.54% protein.  

 Cork Club Hosts

Both Martin & Michael are fulsome in their praise for the local Cork Club. For them it is an honour to be invited to host the stock judging on behalf of the club. Martin comments 

“Our experience since we joined the club and started to take part in the events has been very rewarding. We have made some very good friends. It’s a positive and educational forum for like-minded breeders to gain a distinct insight. Taking part in the herds competition has been most informative, it delivers a great benchmark for your herd. The field evenings are a very pleasant social get-together. I would recommend any Pedigree Breeder out there to join their local club and attend the varied events” 

(First published 2019)