Nearly 50 years of a breeding tradition with Swiftsheath herd

The Irish Holstein Friesian Association (IHFA) Open Day was held on Wednesday of last week at “Swiftsheath” herd of Tom and Maura Murphy and family near Jenkinstown. A large crowd of over 2,500 were in attendance with dairy farmers travelling from every corner of the country , Northern Ireland, Britain and Canada. Charles Gallagher, chief executive and Kathleen Kelly president of IHFA welcomed everyone to the Open day. The official opening was performed by John Bryan, president of IFA. Other dignitaries include Liam Aylward MEP, David Tomlinson and his wife Sheila from the Bilsow Herd in Britain.

The Irish Holstein Friesian Association (IHFA) Open Day was held on Wednesday of last week at “Swiftsheath” herd of Tom and Maura Murphy and family near Jenkinstown. A large crowd of over 2,500 were in attendance with dairy farmers travelling from every corner of the country , Northern Ireland, Britain and Canada. Charles Gallagher, chief executive and Kathleen Kelly president of IHFA welcomed everyone to the Open day. The official opening was performed by John Bryan, president of IFA. Other dignitaries include Liam Aylward MEP, David Tomlinson and his wife Sheila from the Bilsow Herd in Britain.

It was a family day out with volunteers from Conahy Shamrocks GAA club distributing cups of coffee and tea and a range of tasty sandwiches to visitors. Ice cream was sponsored by Downe Syndrome Ireland with donations going to this worthy charity.

Inter Club Stock Judging Finals

The serious business of the day was the Interclub stock judging, YMA stock Judging, Macra stock judging and presentation of the national Herds Competition winners.

Tom Kelly, Monamore; Kevin Flynn, Reary and John C Murphy, Goldenfield were the master judges for the stock judging

After the National stock judging competition Tom Murphy presented cows from the top families at Switsheath to include the Lulu, Mia, Fran, Paula, Dainty and Susie Mist. Spectators were awe stuck by the quality of the stock. This was reflected in the prices paid for young stock bred from these cow families later in the evening.

It is a great tribute to Tom, Maura and family to field three stock judging teams of six cows each from a small herd of 70 cows. The herd was established as a pedigree Holstein Friesian herd in 1980 and the “Swiftheath” prefix was registered by Tom and Maura.

Tom was immersed in Friesian Pedigree breeding since his youth. His fathers herd “Corstown” was first registered in 1965. Pedigree breeding ran in his veins so it was a natural progression to set up a pedigree Holstein Friesian herd. He brought some cow families from the home herd at Corstown and graded up the better cows on the farm.

He further purchased cow families from prominent breeders in Southern Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK. This was added to in later years with purchases of embryos from top cow families in Canada and USA.

Workshops:

There were workshops on High Value Milk . Joe Patton and Pat Moylan of Teagasc gave a presentation on milk composition and the value of protein. Finola McCoy, Animal Health Ireland, Shane McElroy, Glanbia and Tom Ryan, Teagasc Kildalton dealt with hygiene, SCC and Milking machine maintenance all part of the Cell Check initiative.

The open day was well attended by milk producers, pedigree breeders, trade, Macra na Feirme , Teagasc personnel and the Agri –media. 70 commercial firms and organisations had stands. These included Greenvale, Glanbia-Gain Feeds, JFC Manufacturing, Volac, KW Forage, Duggan Steel, ABS Ireland, Alltech, Bolgers, Dairymaster, DeLaval, Dovea Genetics, , Eurogene, FBD, Lely Robotics, Osmonds, Packo Fullwood, Progressive Genetics, etc.

Presentations:

IHFA competitions included National Herds competition (winter & spring calving -under and over 70 categories), and National Stock judging (under 18 plus 18-30 age group), all attracted huge interest as did the EBI and the Gold and Diamond awards.

Celebration sale

As part of the IHFA Open Day events on farm, a special sale of 27 deep pedigreed young heifers took place representing the best cow families in the Swiftsheath Herd. The standard was excellent and the sale attracted huge interest from Northern & Southern breeders interested in quality stock and embryos from this award winning Holstein Herd.

A very large crowd witnessed a fast trade with 25 heifers selling to average E2250. The sale’s top price was 4,600gns for a potential show calf, Swiftsheath Bluesky Fran born November 2011.. Her dam is full sister to Lumville Fran- junior heifer in milk in RUAS Winter Fair 2011.This calf went to the Seaview herd of Denis and Claire White in Cork.

The Windbrook Mia was purchased by Patrick Gaynor, Mullaghlands, Co Monaghan for €3,600. This was a big time show calf, January born out of Ballythomas Adolph Mia Ex 92.

The next highest price of €3200 was paid for a calf due to be born by Talent from the Shottle Susie Mist. She is potential 8 generation of VG/EX. She was purchased by Liam and Sandra Murphy, Evergrange herd , Co Carlow.

The Monamore herd of Tom and Rhona Kelly, Drogheda purchased a striking calf from the Olivia family by GW Atlantic. Other prices include €2850 for a Man-O –Man from the Fran,€2600 for the Samuelo Lulu and the Bolton Averil. All in all an excellent trade!

Tom and Maura Murphy who own the award winning “Swiftsheath” Holstein herd which supplies milk all year round to manufacture Baileys Cream.

Tom Murphy has served as chairman of the Carlow/Kilkenny IHFA club on two occasions. He attended the inaugural club meeting in 1966 where his brother John was elected first chairman. He is a member of the IHFA board of directors, of their panel of judges and on the organising committee for www.emeraldexpo2012.com

This progressive dairy farm has 65 high yielding, pedigree Holstein cows .Tom also runs a suckler herd and finishes all male calves to two year old beef. The herd average is 8,388 kgs (over 1800 gals) of milk at 3.45%Butterfat and 3.23%Protein with 90 % of the herd classified as VG (very good) or EX (excellent).

Their oldest cow Swiftsheath Champ Dainty was born in May 1998, is milking well with 10 lactations to date (Total kgs of milk – 86,259kgs) and the highest in any year was 13,122kgs (nearly 2,900 gals)-a cow any breeder could be proud of.

The Murphy family are well known Holstein exhibitors at local and national shows. They featured in the top three placings of the Carlow/Kilkenny club herds competition in recent years. The 2011 Carlow/Kilkenny YMA saw the Swiftsheath herd crowned Champion and Reserve Champion calf of their show. Swiftsheath Ramos Maire went on to the YMA national finals and came 2nd in the Nov class of 2011.

Pat Moylan

Grassland management on the Murphy family farm is first class and the aim is to have quality grass available from turnout to mid Nov. The cows are buffer fed with a mix of quality silage, maize, whole crop wheat (all home grown) and a balancer. His local Teagasc advisor is the very popular Pat Moylan and his help is much appreciated.

The breeding philosophy at Swiftsheath is to breed “long life” cows through building cow families of the correct balance of production and type. The breeding goal is medium size cows with dairy strength, udders that last and feet and legs with the correct locomotion for grazing.

Top AI bulls with positive Linear Conformation from proven cow families, EBI and excellent fertility are used in the herd. Tom has built up a regular clientele who purchase his surplus heifers year on year. The top males are reared for breeding stock bulls while the remainder are finished as two year old beef.

The Irish Holstein Friesian Association (www.IHFA.ie) has 3,700 members in 15 club areas. It is licensed by the Dept of Agriculture and Food to issue ancestry and pedigree registration certificates. The IHFA is responsible for the upkeep of the herd book and for the promotion of the breed through its many events and services. The association offers a grade-up service, whereby commercial dairy cows can be graded to full pedigree in three simple steps.