Robert and Ann Bryan of Ballinascarthy near Clonakilty in Co. Cork look back to remember why they got into MRI cattle:-
Back in the 1980s here in West Cork, where milk quota was impossible to get, with less than 20,000 gallons of quota on a 50 acre holding, we had to look at other options to just milking cows with very low protein and fat. Our Holstein-Friesian cows also had poor fertility and lots of feet problems.
We started to look at other breeds and because we wanted an animal for beef as well as milk, became interested in this dual-purpose breed which we thought would be suitable for our circumstances. In 1991, we tried some MRI straws on our black and white cows, and in early spring of 1992, we bought our first in-calf MRI heifer. To our delight she produced a very nice red and white heifer calf. On her following four pregnancies she obliged us by having a heifer calf each time.
In the meantime, we bought a pedigree MRI bull which we used on the entire herd. We were rewarded by seeing all resulting calves develop into strong, healthy animals. The bull calves were brought to beef and finished at 2 years old, coming up with excellent grading that would match continental breeds. Even MRI x Holstein bulls came to beef on fodder beet and very little meal. We kept the heifer calves for replacements using A.I. by now. We found that MRI cows gave no problems calving; they would literally look after themselves and we would often walk into the shed to find active, suckled new-born calves with their mothers. The calves were very healthy and easily managed. We also found they had a very placid temperament, just like their mothers.
In 1994, we took to the agricultural show scene, competing in Limerick with our two MRI heifers. The following years we competed at Clonmel, Clonakilty and Tullamore shows; back in Limerick again in 1995 we got breed champion with a maiden heifer.
Limerick Show 1995
In 1998, we had the breed champion and reserve champion at Limerick Show. In 1999, the same milking cow as had won the previous year, was again presented with the Barlow Trophy for Breed Champion in Limerick. Ten years later, this cow is still in the herd at 16 years and produced yet another heifer calf in 2008. She is from the same cow family as the top A.I. sire Rudolf, bred in Holland, now standing in Germany.
Limerick Show 1999
Over the years, we have been very happy with the performance of our MRI cattle. Not only are they much easier to feed that Holstein-Friesian's, they have virtually no health problems and our 40 cows which are all milk-recorded, show very good protein and lactose readings. For 2007, the herd production summary for our herd (pedigree and upgraded animals) showed 1,417 gallons (6,633 kg) at 298 kg and 3.87% fat and 265 kg and 3.57% protein. Bull beef slaughtered at around 20 months regularly achieves R grades, whereas cull cows are graded O and R.
We find there is good demand for both male and female stock, and we have sold a good number of females, both pedigree and grade-ups. Pedigree bulls have been sold to customers in various counties around Ireland. In 2002, we sold a bull to a customer in Co. Antrim and our latest sale in early 2009 was to a farmer near Powys in the U.K.
One highlight of our MRI breeding was in 2008 when we hosted an Open Day for MRI breeders, neighbours and friends. Though daunting when we began to organise it, it was a very enjoyable day and it was very rewarding to see everybody having a good time - including the cows. Through breeding MRIs we have made some very good friends and have gone to events which we would never otherwise have thought of travelling to.
Open Day 2008
We are particularly proud to have sold our bull "Sunnyside Don" to Dovea Genetics in 2012, where he now stands as one of their MRI A.I. bulls. Don is out of a Doris 249 dam and was sired by Binkart. He has been allocated A.I. code SJD and semen from him is freely available.
Anyone getting involved in MRIs will be well rewarded for breeding these very lovable red and white animals.
You can contact us on 023 88 392 70 or phone Robert on 087 211 4227.