IRISH MOILED CLASSIFICATON WORKSHOP
On the longest day of the year (Tues 21st June 2022) not only did the Irish Moiled Cattle Society welcome its breeders to the start of the summer events, but they also welcomed having their first official breeders’ event since the Covid pandemic began over two years ago, with a classification workshop at the farm of Linda and Robert Davis, Templepatrick, Ballyclare with the Ballyvesey herd of Irish Moileds on view.
The Ballyvesey herd began when wife Linda bought Robert an Irish Moiled cow for his birthday, Ballyvesey Sue who has just produced her seventh-generation heifer ‘Ballyvesey Seachtu’, by coincidence her ear tag number is 0700-1, an outstanding heifer calf which Robert is very proud of, they now have a herd of seventy-six Irish Moileds. A gift of Irish Moiled ribeye steaks made up by Hillstown Farm Shop was presented to the Davis Family as a thank you for hosting the evening.
The Irish Moiled Cattle Society first introduced the Type Classification Scheme (TCS) almost 10 years ago, through the Irish Holstein Friesian Association (IHFA) and Holstein UK, the last Society workshop on classification taking place five years ago. The number of herds participating now compared to five years ago has increased significantly with a grand total of more than 200 x 1st calvers and more than 600 cows scored. The information from herds classifying is provided each year to all breeders by the Society, the results being available to access through the IMCS website and Herdbook. Cattle that are highly scored are very sought after especially at Society Sales.
The Type Classification Scheme (TCS) is a voluntary scheme, open to all Irish Moiled breeders. IHFA covers breeders in the Republic of Ireland and Holstein UK covers breeders in Great Britain and N. Ireland. All the cattle are classified by an independent professional inspector allocating a score out of a hundred. The final score together with the grade of; Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good or Excellent will be updated to the animal’s pedigree in the Herd book or wherever the animals name appears.
The 4 main categories assessed by the classifiers are Body Conformation, Breed Character, Udder and Legs and Feet. The overall final score depends on the composited scores assigned to each category. If an animal is weak in 1 or more categories, the overall final score will be lower accordingly. The score given to each category is calculated from the functional and linear traits associated with that category. The scores of each linear trait are entered into a hand-held computer and a software programme then calculates the final overall score, assigning the correct weighting of points to each category.
The purpose of the Irish Moiled Cattle Society holding a classification workshop is to educate breeders, in particular breeders who have never classified before, it gives a visual and verbal insight into the benefits of using classification as a management tool.
The workshop was led by classifier Lynden Bustard of Holstein UK who selected 5 cows purposely ranging from Poor to Excellent giving the ringside audience his reasons on how he scored each animal beginning with body conformation progressing to breed character, then to the udder and lastly to the legs and feet. He encouraged breeders to look more objectively at faults of each of the animals which sometimes can be missed or overlooked or simply faults you pretend not to notice because they are an old favourite cow. He gave reasons why cows scored Excellent and why it should be strongly recommended that breeders only keep or purchase bulls out of cows in this bracket.
The advice given to new members interested in classifying is to contact breed secretary Gillian Steele to give notice well in advance of having a classification visit. IHFA and Holstein UK will be notified by the Society, the classifiers or their respective offices will contact the breeder to book a date. It is advised to have the cattle in a yard or small enclosure which has a hard surface to enable the classifier to assess and see the animal stand and move. Having the pedigree certificate at hand is necessary so that the animal’s identification and scoring can be uploaded by the classifier immediately to the handheld computer. The advice is to put forward all first calving heifers (this is also strongly endorsed by the Society). The scoring through classification gives breeders the knowledge and the guidance of which animals have been identified as having a weaknesses and which animals are identified of having desirable traits that will improve the herd. Over time with experience breeders will be able to judge and put forward animals that have improved from their last score to have them classified again to gain extra points. Once a score has been awarded to an animal it can never be deducted.
With Paul Boal a classifier of IHFA and several Holstein UK classifiers on hand, question and answer time was very informative both for the breeders who had been classifying for several years as well as for the new breeders.
The evening concluded with a lovely supper and catch up.
Upcoming events are the virtual IMCS AGM taking place via zoon on3rd August ‘22 at 7.30. On 3rd September Irish Moilie Beef Day will take place at Killua Castle, County Westmeath, Ireland. The International Irish Moiled Cattle Society Online Show takes place on 10th September concluding with the Magnificent Moilies Autumn Online Timed Auction taking place from 27th Sept-29th Sept ’22. For futher information please contact breed secretary Gillian at