Sean O’Doherty – Knockanaeagh Friesians

Three generations of the O’Doherty family are custodians of the Knockaneagh pedigree registered herd. It is an Irish Pure Friesian herd nurtured with a distinct passion for Friesian breeding over many decades. Sean is the fourth-generation farmer to work the O’Doherty land. He and wife Karen, together with their children Sean Óg and Faye, manage the herd today, keenly supported by Sean’s parents Johnny and Maureen.

The attributes of the Irish Pure Friesian cow – easy-care, high calf quality and cull cow value, low maintenance, mature yield, and inherent fertility and longevity to last for up to a double-digit number of lactations – are borne out in the herd.

Cognisant of the need to farm in harmony with nature and the environment, the farm was signed up from the outset as a participant in the EU Green Low Carbon Agri Environment Scheme (GLAS). Selective dry cow therapy is an established pro-active management practise on the farm, first adopted over five years ago. The precision application of all slurry using the LESS method to has helped to achieve a significant reduction in annual chemical fertiliser usage.

Breeding of the Herd

Friesian breeding is the backbone to the herd. The origins of the very first Friesian stock to be introduced into the herd can be fully traced back to three calves purchased over 50 years ago. The detail-rich lineage is fully recorded with much family pride in the IHFA herdbook.

The high fertility and strong transmitting of cow families provided for herd expansion to be achieved from within. “I didn’t have to purchase in additional stock, I preferred to not potentially compromise herd biosecurity.”

The robustness of the Friesian breed ideally compliments the topography of the farm which is hilly, high above sea level and is laid out in a long, narrow strip. Cows have a lot of walking to and from the parlour daily.

“It’s quite common to have 12th lactation cows in my herd – evidence of the numerous positive traits of the Irish Pure Friesian”.

Herd Performance

“The Irish Pure Friesian cow really lends herself well to selective dry cow therapy. There are many benefits, direct and indirect. It’s a definite success”.

“I’ve scaled back on numbers recently. The farm is debt free. Scaling up on herd size or pursuing additional acres holds no attraction”.