Emerald Expo 2018: See how showing stock can be a family affair

Showing cattle at Emerald Expo is very much a family affair for the Flanagans. Farming in Termonfeckin, Co. Louth, Paul, Marguerite and children Matthew (18), Thea (16) and Ella (13) travel the country throughout the year.

They take part in and enjoy their family passion for breeding and exhibiting top-calibre Holstein Friesian cattle.

For Emerald Expo, the Flanagans will face a much less arduous journey, as the venue of Virginia Show Centre, in Co. Cavan, only requires a one-hour journey via the bordering county of Meath.

Paul’s father, Peter, began farming in the coastal location near scenic Clogherhead over 70 years ago. He established the Tubbertoby pedigree registered Holstein Friesian prefix and pursued a life-long passion for quality breeding.

He regularly exhibited at the prominent shows of the early era such as: Trim; Dundalk; Virginia; and, of course, the RDS Spring Show. The proud family tradition of exhibiting at shows has continued through the generations.

Matthew Flanagan will have a number of entries in Emerald Expo at Virginia Show Centre, on Saturday, April 28

As the ‘Expo’ date draws nearer, preparations on the Flanagan family farm go up a gear. They have entries for the YMA Showmanship League classes; a Jersey heifer for the Coloured Breed classes; and quality Holsteins cows and heifers for the In-Milk and Mature classes – at the business end of the show.

Owing to studies for the fast-approaching Leaving Certificate exams, Matthew will not be participating in the showmanship classes on this occasion. Instead, Thea and Ella have been busy getting the animals ready. They help train; lead; feed; wash; and clip the stock – to have them looking their best.

Marguerite is employed by aircraft manufacturer Airbus. However, this busy off-farm job is not an impediment to getting involved with the day-to-day farming tasks.

Management of the herd is to a very high level, as Paul and Marguerite are conscientious about providing the optimal environment for the herd to express the selected genetic potential.

Paul outlined his breeding objectives, adding: “We aim for a balanced cow with good milk production and a high yield of milk solids. We appreciate good cow families. A solid pedigree with proven cow family performance is key to breeding through to the next generation.”

The top sires of the breed worldwide are used and, from time to time, an investment in a select ET purchase is made.

Renowned cow families from North America have prospered in the herd, as the Flanagans pursue their passion for the proven performance of quality Holstein breeding; they breed balanced cows with an ability to last and carry extra quality.

The Flanagan’s herd

The milking herd consists of 85-90 pedigree registered Holstein Friesian cows. Conformation is to a very high standard – testament to breeding policy and management. This provides the cows with the environment to express their quality.

70% of the herd is scored to VG/EX standard of IHFA (Irish Holstein Friesian Association) conformation scoring.

In fact, there are 16 cows scored to excellent (EX) standard. This includes Tubbertoby Atwood Fran EX93, with a score of EX94 for feet and legs, in addition to EX92 for mammary.

The cow families represented in the Tubbertoby herd are a sprinkling of renowned families from home and abroad. Holstein breeders worldwide who exhibit at shows, despite any linguistic barriers, would probably instantly recognise the Tubbertoby cow family genetics.

Pride in the pursuit of breeding, showing and developing top-calibre stock is surely part of the Flanagan family’s DNA. A number of showing successes, prizes and awards have been won down through the years.

Some highlights include:
  • Overall Reserve Champion at the last Spring Show that took place in Goffs, Co. Kildare;
  • Honourable Mention – Emerald Expo 2017;
  • Honourable Mention Champion – National YMA Calf Show 2013;
  • Champion Heifer – Baileys All-Ireland 2010;
  • 3rd Baileys All-Ireland Cow 2016;
  • Winning the 3rd calver class at the National Dairy Show 2016;
  • Champion Heifer in Milk – Tullamore National Livestock Show 2013;
  • Overall Champion Herd in the local North Eastern Friesian Breeders Club last year.

Perhaps the list of achievements will grow even longer following this year’s Emerald Expo. The Flanagan family’s Tubbertoby herd is surely in the reckoning.

When and where?

Emerald Expo 2018 is being held at the Virginia Show Centre, Co. Cavan, on Saturday, April 28. Admission is free and all are welcome.

More information

For more information on Emerald Expo 2018, just Click here