Killua Castle Breeders Day

Irish Moiled Cattle Society Breeders Day at Killua Castle

The Irish Moiled Cattle Society breeder’s day was a tremendous success.  The rain did not in any way dampen the spirits of Irish Moiled enthusiasts with one of the largest turnouts to an open day.  There was a little respite from the heavy downpours, enough for everyone to enjoy taking a walk through the grounds of Killua Castle to see one of the now largest herds of Irish Moiled cattle in Ireland.

The Sangines-Krause family who own Killua Castle made everyone feel very welcome and Allen Sangines-Krause gave an insight into their vision for the future of Killua Castle. It is already evident how they are lovingly restoring the castle and surrounding buildings to its former glory and beauty.  It certainly will be a place well worth visiting and even more so when they open the Twelve Points restaurant and Farm Shop on the grounds of the Castle.

The focus on the farm and land began around five years ago and since then they have established several rare and native breeds of animals that historically might have been farmed on the lands of the Island of Ireland. Anthony Gilsenan, Farm Manager who has been at the helm of this farming enterprise has seen the arrival of Jacob sheep, Dexter cattle, red deer, old Irish goats to name just a few of the breeds which live at Killua.  Anthony purchased his Irish Moiled foundation cattle initially from the Magnificent Moilie Online Auction which he then further developed very quickly with his farming knowledge and experience by sourcing the best bull he could buy Ravelglen Rocky to use on the herd and other females from well-established Irish Moiled breeders. Anthony has established an outstanding herd of registered Irish Moiled cattle, their prefix proudly shares the same name as the Castle ‘Killua’.  

The animals are reared organically, in a nature inspired way with the final produce being used to sell. Some of the breeders in attendance interested in specialising in beef production got to view the new on-farm EU-approved meat processing facility which is built on an out farm.  Anthony explained that due to strict regulations that after the group had visited that the facility would have to be totally intensively sanitized, even though tremendous efforts go into sanitizing their facility daily. The processing plant consists of three chills, a de-boning room, a processing room, and all associated plant equipment. 

To wet everyone’s appetite of what will be on offer in the Restaurant and Farm Shop, Killua’s gastronomic food van was on site with their two Michelin star chefs who had just arrived from Spain on Thursday ahead of the opening of the restaurant, it was the perfect opportunity to showcase their Irish Moiled burgers which were packed full of flavour.

The afternoon proceedings continued with Nigel Edwards, Honorary Registrar of the Society updating everyone that there are 4 approaches to the Irish Moiled Cattle Society breeding plan; 1. Inbreeding Co-efficients, 2.Benchmarking weights of weanling bull calves, 3. Type classification and 4. Genomics. Breeders should try their best and pay heed to all the tools available to them for selection.

Nigel continued to say that breeders should strive to breed Irish Moiled’s of a low, inbreeding coefficient, the Irish Moiled is a rare breed, the genetic pool is of moderate capacity and striving to breed cattle of low inbreeding coefficient will help to preserve the breed.

Weigh recording of weanling bull calves should be carried out by breeders to try and create some continuity in the Irish Moilie beef production. Weanling bull calves at 7 months of age should have had an average daily liveweight gain of 1 kg per day or more, maybe calves out of 1st calvers can be as low as 0.9 kg per day. These weights are based on conditions of an adequate amount of grass. When purchasing a bull as a stock sire, that animal should have had an average daily live weight gain of over 1.2kg per day, a superior growth rate to bull calves destined for beef production.

Genomics is brand new to the breed, and it will take some time for it to be reliable and accurate, but it is a tool, breeders should consider, and breeders should try their best to input data to increase the rate at which it becomes more reliable and accurate. In the meantime, breeders should seriously consider all the traits measured in genomics such as, age of 1st calving, milking ability, calving ability, etc etc, especially as there will be a lot of pressure on famers in future years to keep efficient suckler cows to lower carbon emissions.

Type classification is the leading tool used by Irish Moiled breeders at present and has made a tremendous contribution to the improvement of the breed. Paul Boal from IHFA gave a summary, that classification is an independent visual assessment of all the animals in a farmer’s herd, and the strengths and weaknesses of each animal are identified. An overall score is assigned to each animal. The overall score takes in to account the breed character, body conformation, legs and feet and the mammary.  One of the main benefits of classification is that it helps to identify the best females to breed replacements from.  Cattle who have scored highly in classification or are from cow families with four and five generations of highly classified, when offered for sale usually command the higher prices in sales.  Another benefit of classification is when purchasing a future stock bull is to look for a bull that is classified and has come from a family that has been classified three or four generations.

The classification service is an independent unbiased analysis of an animal’s conformation, identifying strengths and weaknesses, an excellent management tool for anyone breeding Irish Moiled’s.

The rain eased up in time for the walk alongside the Castle for everyone to view the Killua herd, stock judge and listen to the speakers who gave an account of each of the animals who had been chosen specifically to give objectives and reasons why both genomics and classification are useful tools when it comes to breeding or purchasing Irish Moileds.

The day was to conclude with Irish Moiled chairperson Brian O’Kane thanking the Sangines-Krause family, farm manager Anthony Gilsenan and the team at Killua Castle for hosting such a perfect day in such a beautiful setting.  He thanked everyone for coming and supporting the day, it was inspiring to see and speak to so many people who were interested in the Irish Moiled breed.  Brian thanked speakers Paul Boal (IFHA) classifer, Nigel Edwards, Registrar and Brian Dolan who updated everyone on where the new (ACRES) scheme is presently.

The Open Day at Killua was Brian’s last day as Chairperson after three years in office, incoming Chairperson Michelle McCauley thanked Brian for all his hard work and sacrifice and for all that he had accomplished and achieved as Chairperson of the Society in what was one of the hardest periods for the Society.  

The new ACRES scheme in ROI has certainly stirred a lot of interest in the Irish Moiled breed that along with the big push on at present of using a farming system to help reduce the carbon footprint by using a more efficient breed such as the Irish Moiled to help fight climate change. Farmers armed with this knowledge are sourcing breeds such as the Irish Moiled which is one of the oldest native species to the country and has the adaptability to cope with harsh winters, not requiring intensive feeding, a low input breed that can be wintered outside, their medium size causes minimal poaching to the land, used for conservational grazing due to their ability to graze and forage foliage that other cattle would pass by.

The Magnificent Moilie Online timed auction is taking place from 7pm Tues 27th September concluding 7pm Thurs 29th September through auctioneers Harrison & Hetherington. There are thirty entries intotal from some of the top Irish Moiled herds based in all three constituencies.  A preliminary video put together by the Society has been released on the IMCS Facebook page ahead of the catalogue which will be published by H & H closer to the sale date.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the sale keep following the IMCS facebook page and IMCS website for updates.  It is also advised to register with H & H ahead of the sale to see the full line up of photos and videos of cattle entered in the online auction.