A Co. Kildare family has played host to the 2024 Irish Holstein Friesian Association’s (IHFA) national open day and highlighted how the Holstein Friesian breed has been a “cornerstone” of their farm’s growth and success.

Joseph, Bernie, Kevin Doran and their extended family welcomed IHFA members yesterday (Wednesday, July 10) to see in person the Dondale Herd at their farm in Naas, Co. Kildare.

The Dondale herd was established in 1964 and is located in Donadea, Naas, Co. Kildare, and is home to 160 pedigree registered Holstein Friesian cows.

The Dorans have 30% of their herd calving down in the winter with the remaining 70% calving in the spring.

In 2023, the Dondale Herd produced 9,652kg of milk, which resulted in 702kg of milk solids in 305 days.

IHFA

The IHFA national open day kicked off with the national stock judging classes by various clubs around the country and Macra Na Feirme.

There was also the announcement of the competition results and the presentation of prizes followed by the Dondale open day celebration sale of youngstock.

The IHFA’s chief executive, Laurence Feeney hailed the Dondale Herd as “a real consistent herd”.

But as the Doran family told IHFA members, it has taken 20 to 30 years of hard work through brilliant breeding to get to where they are today.

This hard work has especially paid off in recent years, as over the past six years they have increased their output by over 140kg of milk solids, producing top quality milk year-round.

Feeney also highlighted how the Dondale Herd is a testament to how the Holstein Friesian breed has developed in the last number of years.

“There has been a serious focus on longevity accumulated with good fertility and conformation and this type of breeding is going to push the breed forward even more,” he said.

Judges

The master judges on the IHFA national open day included Andrea Rafferty of WorldWideSires, Tom Kelly who judged the heifers, Victor Jackson who judged the junior cows and Garry Jones who judged the senior cows.

Andrea Rafferty started off the judges comments stating that “the quality of cows made our job very difficult”.

Judges remarked that they had been “blown away” with the calibre of cows on display.

Victor Jackson, who is a member of the Kildare Holstein Friesian club, added: “I know the Doran’s very well and when they do things, it won’t be half done.”

Tom Kelly also shared with IHFA members that he was looking for “a cow with a lot of depth and a good sweep who is able to carry herself well on her feet with a well filled udder”.