Based outside Carrigaline in Co. Cork is Eustace Burke, a pedigree Angus breeder and proud owner of the Clontead Angus Herd.
Burke’s farm is 60ac in size and an impressive attention to detail is evident in all aspects of his farm, which is home to 30 pedigree Angus cows and their progeny.
The March sun was shining and the Angus cattle were comfortably grazing on green paddocks when Agriland visited the farm.
History of the land
Eustace explained that a lot of work has gone into improving the land of the farm, saying that over 80% of the farm was reclaimed from furze and scrub.
The farm was originally bought by his late father in the early 80s and started as a beef enterprise. The Burkes then moved into suckler farming and began to place their focus primarily on pedigree Angus livestock.
The farm is primarily dry land, but has a shallow soil cover. Eustace said that most of the fields could not be ploughed so they are instead reseeded, using a disc harrow.
Eustace works off-farm with the artificial insemination (AI) company Munster Bovine and works mainly with dairy farmers in the south-Cork region. His mother Deirdre helps out with the management of the farm at home also.
He is currently gearing up for a bull sale on his farm which is due to take place on Thursday, March 31, at 7:00p.m.
The bulls to be sold in March are out-wintered on the brassica crop, Redstart.
A total of 5.5ac of Redstart was sown last August and was used to winter 15 bulls.
Eustace explained that the crop is divided into 30ft corridors with electric fences and a strip-wire is moved every day over the winter.
Bulls which are out-wintered are given access to a grass lieback as well as ad-lib silage and a small level of concentrates.
Calving and breeding
The Clontead Angus Herd is primarily autumn-calving and uses 100% AI bulls for breeding.
Eustace explained that while he does produce some bulls for the pedigree market, his target market is primarily dairy farmers looking for an easy-calving, short-gestation bull with good carcass figures.
“We breed for replacement value, carcass weight and milk in the pedigree,” he told Agriland.
“Our target market is dairy farmers but we do have an offering of bulls that would be sold to pedigree breeders.”
Eustace imports Angus bull semen and said he is “always chasing the next big-name Angus bull”.
The grazing season on the farm generally runs from early February until late October.
Calving begins in September and takes place indoors. Once cows have calved they are returned to grass until housing in late October.
Calves are weaned from cows 60 days after calving, however first calvers get a dry-period of 90 days.
Angus bull sale
Eustace explained that the bulls he produces have an average gestation length of 280 days, but said he has some shorter and some longer-gestation bulls too.
“We can give birth weights and gestation length on every single one of our bulls. Five of the bulls we have in our upcoming sale are in the top 1% for replacement and another three are in the top 10% for replacement,” he said.
“11 of our bulls are in the top 10% for beef carcass and two bulls are in the top 1% for carcass.
“Every dairy farmer that comes here for a bull is doing one of two things: They’re either chasing that top-end calf or they’re finishing the stock themselves or have set purchasers buying their calves.
“We sell bulls that produce calves at 35-45kg birth weight and anything above or below that, we are not interested in,” Eustace concluded.
The on-farm auction will take place on Thursday, March 31, in conjunction with Cork Marts and MartEye. Timed pre-sale bidding will be available on MartEye from Tuesday, March 29.