Solving fertility issues by making the switch to Montbeliarde breeding

Kenny Roberts milks a herd of 108 Montbeliarde cows under a spring-calving system in Coolelan, Rathangan, Co. Kildare.

As it stands, 80% of his Coolelan Herd are pedigree registered; the remaining 20% are Montbeliarde cross.

However, this hasn’t always been the case. Roberts, Chairman of Montbeliarde Society of Ireland, explained that he first started utilising Montbeliarde genetics in 2001.

“At the time we had issues with fertility from our Holstein Friesian herd. We were also looking for a dual-purpose beef breed that would produce good-quality bull calves.”

Improved fertility

The introduction of such genetics has paid dividends for the Kildare-based farmer, as his herd’s fertility has improved significantly in the intervening years.

Since making the switch to a Montbeliarde herd, the empty rate on Robert’s farm has never been above 10%. The average calving interval on the farm last year was 363 days and over 80% of the herd calved within the first six weeks of the season.

Strong solids production

Production from the herd has also been strong. Last year, the average cow on the farm produced just under 6,000L at 4.02% fat and 3.7% protein – that’s over 463kg of milk solids produced from a concentrate input of 630kg/cow.

Buoyed by strong production and fertility traits, Roberts has also expanded his herd substantially over recent years.

After the shackles of quota were removed in 2015, he increased cow numbers from 62 up to 90. A further stage of expansion took place this year; an additional 20 cows were brought into the parlour.

Beef system

Along with operating the dairy enterprise, the Kildare-based farmer also carries all of the bull calves born on the farm to beef as steers. As it stands, 60 steers produced from his dairy herd are currently being reared to beef.

The dual-purpose nature of the Montbeliarde, he said, is a real plus for this enterprise; the Montbeliarde bulls achieve high kill-out percentages.

Interested in Kenny Roberts’ farming system?

To further discuss some of these topics, the Montbeliarde Society of Ireland will host an open day on Kenny Roberts’ farm on Tuesday, September 26, at 11:30am.

Everyone is welcome to the farm to meet with Montbeliarde breeders and to find out more about the breed.

The breed society will also launch the latest edition of the Montbeliarde Journal at the event.

More information

For more information on the open day, contact Linda Hanbidge at: 085-1468923 or email: [email protected]. Click here for more information