Tipperary Farmer winning with Blondes
John Lanigans commercial Blonde herd is situated in Co.Tipperary on a 250 acre mixed farm, comprising of 90 suckler cows, 250 breeding ewes and 45 acres of forestry. The suckler herd is made up mostly of commercial Blonde cross cows, all AI bred from Limousin x Friesian dams, and all bred back to Blonde AI sires. Practically all of the half bred Blonde cows are by the great Fallou, who bred very docile, milky, moderate sized cows. These cows are bred back to bulls such as Blackwater Ainsley, Ganaway Jasper, Nutin, and for the coming season some Aneto and California will be used also.
John introduced Blondes as the main sire breed because they can beat the previously used Charolais bulls for growth rate and conformation, while giving easier calvings through lighter bone, and much hardier more active calves at birth with virtually no calves needing assistance to get colostrum early. Also the Blondes are more resilient during outbreaks of scour or pneumonia than any of the other Continental sire breeds.
Blonde sires also mean that bull calves and heifer calves are equally valuable, as heifer calves make excellent high quality replacements, and bull calves are ideal for export to the continent, unlike the other terminal sires where female progeny are only suited for slaughter. Blondes can also match the top maternal breeds for pelvic capacity and milk while breeding far more valuable bull calves. The use of a single high performance breed means that a herd can produce very consistent calves, like peas in a pod, without the need for two or more breeds of bull in the herd.
Blonde cattle also produce extremely healthy lean beef which is much appreciated on the Continent, and as yet undiscovered in this country, being very similar to venison or turkey for leanness. The muscling in the breed is unique as it is not caused by a mutation in the myostatin gene, meaning swollen double muscled tongues and calves knuckling on the feet is not a problem in newborn calves.
There are some great sires which John has used that have bred very quiet stock including Fallou, Jasper and Ainsley. All of these are also colour marking their calves and breeding shape and style with good maternal traits as well. John will also use some straws of the extremely muscled Aneto in the coming year to compliment the bloodlines already in use
By using Blondes, not only does John produce more valuable weanlings, but also year on year the value of the whole herd increases with an added bonus that cull cows and surplus breeding stock are in great demand.