With the dinner table talk often focused on the family’s prize-winning Simmentals, this Mother’s Day will be no different for Sheila O’Leary, according to her daughter, Ava.

“We don’t have a lot of heavy jobs to do on the farm but we will make them a bit lighter for mam on Mother’s Day,” said Ava, who farms alongside her mam Sheila and dad Tony in Ballincollig, Cork.

Sheila has more reason than most to want to put her feet up for Mother’s Day for her off-farm job is in a nursing home.

“It’s been very difficult for her to see so many older people who haven’t been able to have their families go and visit them because of the pandemic,” said Ava who works as a veterinary nurse.

We have a small farm set-up with 24 cattle. We all have off-farm jobs. Mam looks after the calves. Since the first lockdown, they have been such a great distraction for her during very trying times.

The family’s Seaview herd is well known on the show scene and has nearly 39,000 followers on Instagram. “My angle is that we don’t showcase ourselves or the farm, it’s all about the animals. We promote the herd and the breed,” Ava said.

“My parents got into Simmentals over 30 years ago, so I grew up with them. I was eight or nine when I started showing them and I got really involved in the whole social aspect. Mam does the behind-the-scenes harder work. She grew up on a dairy farm and has a great work ethic.

Great Maternal Traits

“We love Simmentals because the cows have excellent maternal traits. They are definitely the suckler cow with the most milk and their fertility and ability to calve is great also. We like that the calves have great growth rates and are well able to reach the same targets as other continental breeds,” Ava said.

“The biggest reason of all for us is their super temperaments. Having quiet cows is essential for us especially when we work off-farm and often there is only one of us working on our own,” she said.

“I miss the whole buzz of the Irish Simmental Cattle Society scene – I’m chairperson of the southern club,” Ava said.

The show circuit is a lovely pastime and you make so many friends. There were online shows last year and we took part in them but they are not the same.

Photographed with Ava and Sheila is Seaview Mario. “He is heading to the Irish Simmental Premier Sale in Roscommon on Saturday, March 20, so we will be busy getting him ready for that this weekend,” said Ava.

Simmentals are, she said, central to the family’s routine. “Sometimes they dominate the conversation at home which can drive my sister mad as she hasn’t any interest. However, my brother is very interested in them.”

Having a mother who was prepared to roll up her sleeves on the farm provided her with a great role model, Ava said. “It was just the norm for me to pitch in.”