This year’s Irish Holstein Freisian Association (IHFA) National Open Day is to be hosted by the Doran family of the Dondale herd, Donadea, Co. Kildare on Wednesday, July 10.

Joe, Bernie, Kevin Doran and family are the proud hosts of the IHFA National Open Day 2024. Their Dondale herd of 160 Pedigree Registered Holstein Friesian cows is a top-quality, award-winning herd.  

“The IHFA National Open Day presents a unique opportunity to view the tremendous breeding and efficient performance of the Dondale herd.

“The Dondale herd has increased its output per cow by over 140g of milk solids in a six-year period,” according to chief executive of the IHFA, Laurence Feeney.

(L-r:) Managing director at WWS, Conor Morley; Marie Heneghan; Joe Doran; Kevin Doran; Bernie Doran; Megan Browne and IHFA president, John O’Sullivan

Joe and wife Bernie farm in partnership with their son Kevin, daughters Marie and Roisín who are both teachers are also a big part of the farm and help out at every opportunity.

The Doran family farm in Avondale, Donadea, Naas is located close to Clane, Maynooth and Naas within a short distance of the M7 and M4 motorway network routes.

Members of the Emblem family (dam and daughter) Dondale Mclean Emblem and Dondale Punch Emblem

Joe established the herd in 1964, when he registered the Dondale prefix. The herd was Graded Up to Pedigree status in 1991 from the bedrock of home-bred cow families.

Home bred families include Emblem, Ruth, Elsa, Helen, Judy, Bonny, Emma among others.  In recent years high merit youngstock from select international families have been acquired in order to add further layers to the genetic profile of the herd.

Profitable, efficient and award winning

Top quality milk is produced year-round. Last year, the herd yielded 9652kg of milk 702kg milk solids per cow.

Ranking in the top 2% of Glanbia Suppliers for both kgs milk solids and litres of milk.

The herd calving pattern is 30% winter, 70% spring. In 2023, the Dondale Herd sat in the top 1% of Glanbia suppliers for spring six-week calving rate.

To be able to achieve a five-star six-week spring calving rate at that production level is a phenomenal and unique achievement.

The most recent classification inspection (February) resulted in 91%of animals inspected scoring GP or higher.

Currently, there are 28 cows of 5th lactation and older in the herd as an indicator of positive longevity.

Having previously competed in the junior category of the Kildare Holstein Freisian Breeders Club herds competition, it has been a whirlwind success to progress on to ultimate success, winning 1st place overall.

2023 judge, Jason Helen commended the exceptional dairy strength and consistency throughout the Dondale herd when giving his reasons at the Kildare Club’s prizegiving.

Last year the herd placed second in the IHFA National Herds Competition, large herd category, which is further noteworthy given the fact that it was the first time to participate in the prestigious national competition.

Genetic progress

In 2014 the herd was averaging 8,912L at 593kg solids. In a bid to maximise the genetics used on farm, Dondale joined WMS, the WWS mating programme in 2015 and they have not looked back since.

Fast forward to 2020, the herd averaged 10,203L at 739kg solids.

Since then, Kevin and Joe have purchased land and increased in cow numbers (from 115 to 160), the influx in heifer numbers saw production dip slightly, however projections for 2024 estimate a very pleasing 9,844L at 726kg solids.

Kevin commends WMS for taking the work out of sire selection, he no longer has to study each individual mating.

WMS combines genetic trait profiling and linear scoring to optimise each mating decision. A key benefit of the programme for the Dondale herd was its elimination of inbreeding and its consideration of unwanted genetic recessives and Haplotypes.

When selecting genetics for the herd, focus is put on positive Strength, Teat Length, Kgs Milk Solids and both Foot & Leg and Udder Composite.

Kevin praises bulls Roylane Boxer Punch, Siemers Real Seal and Scientific Doppler from WWS for leaving a lasting impact in the herd both conformationally and in the milk tank.

Bulls currently in the AI tank are Logistics, Pazzle, Crown Red, Rager Red, Reeve Red, Cirrus P, Luster P, High Oohm, Praser, Yamaska, Robin Red and Rubicon.

Head monitoring