Owned by the US-based Feeney brothers, the Bostonia Charolais Herd is one of Ireland’s most-prestigious pedigree herds. We visited their pristine Scurmore Pedigree Farm on the Moy Estuary in County Sligo and had a chat with farm manager Niall Hynes to find out more.
Ideally located in Scurmore, County Sligo, on Ireland’s picturesque North Western Atlantic Coast, the 250-acre Scurmore Pedigree Farm is home to the acclaimed Bostonia Charolais Herd – a fully-closed, grass-based bloodstock herd of premium, multi-award-winning Charolais cattle, pumped with quality genetics.
Breeding for the Irish and export markets and specialising in AI (To maximise and enhance the quality of the herd, the breeding programme ensures that the best available genetic pool is tapped into with AI bulls), Scurmore Pedigree is currently home to a truly magnificent herd of 120 commercial and 30 pedigree cows. The high-quality stock is renowned island-wide and beyond, regularly gleaning major awards at all the top agricultural shows.
In 2018 alone, for example, awards secured by the Bostonia Charolais Herd included Champion Charolais at both the Tullamore and Balmoral Shows, Reserve Senior Champion at Tullamore and Best Group of Three at Balmoral, while red ribbons were also picked up at Athlone, Ballinrobe, Ballina, Inishowen, Grange Bonniconlon and Longford Shows.
As well as the award-winning herd of continental-cross pedigree Charolais and suckler cows, the farm also boasts 30 embryo transfer calves per year. Cows are paddock grazed and calves are creep grazed in front of the cows.
Having worked on the farm for the previous five years, local man Niall Hynes took over the position of farm manager towards the end of 2018. “I have an important role to fill but I’m really looking forward to it as this is a fantastic place to work with the assistance of Trevor and Blair Feeney.”
As beef farmers go, Niall is in the fairly unique position of working for employers who live on the other side of the Atlantic. The Feeney brothers, Brendan and Greg, who own the Bostonia Charolais Herd, emigrated to the United States in the early 1980s, where they established and developed a construction and utility company in the Dorchester suburb of Boston, which currently employ over 400 workers.
The Feeneys took over the family farm after their father, Joe, passed away and have expanded it over the years. Both are regular visitors to the farm during the pedigree showing season and they are always available to discuss the continued development of the herd.
While the 2018 heatwave hit a lot of farms hard, Niall points out that Scurmore Pedigree came through relatively unscathed: “We had to go with a third cut of silage, which we wouldn’t normally do, and obviously that meant some additional expense, but with regards to the cattle on the land it didn’t affect us too much, so we were lucky enough.”
The consistent success enjoyed by the herd at shows all over Ireland speaks for itself, really. “We were major champions at most shows with our breeding females,” Niall confirms. “Drumshane Mademoiselle won the Overall Champion at Tullamore in August, having also claimed the Overall Champion in Balmoral in May as well as winning a number of local shows.
“Meanwhile, Bessiebelles Millie was chosen as the Interbreed Champion at Bonniconlon and Reserve Champion at Grange and numerous other shows. Bostonia Nonstopabull also won numerous Shows of the Year and was Reserve Male Calf Champion at Tullamore.
“The next big sale is the Premier Charolais Show and Sale in Elphin on March 23rd,” Niall continues. “That’s the main one as well as the Charolais Society Christmas Cracker in December. We sold a bull in December for €5,000 and have previously sold for as high as €10,200.”
The Bostonia prefix has become synonymous with quality. The journey with pedigree Charolais cattle began at Scurmore in 2013, with quality genetics the driver that has led to the herd’s phenomenal success both in the sales ring and on the show circuit. The herd features some of the most-renowned bloodlines in Charolais circles, with a selective breeding policy ensuring the production of quality cow families. Today, the Bostonia Charolais Herd is one of the island’s most respected, with a powerful reputation throughout the country.
Going forward, Niall says the goal of the team at Scurmore Pedigree Farm is “to continue to produce good quality Charolais females suitable for market and breeding bulls suitable for local farmers. That would definitely be our aim sales-wise. We have a good reputation here and we’re well established as a top-quality herd for breeding females and bulls. We already have a name for quality stock and now it’s 100% about keeping our quality levels up.
“A lot of our sales are to local farmers, which is part and parcel of the business. We sell commercials locally in the local marts and also privately to farmers, with a lot of repeat business, which is a good sign.
“We’re hoping to push the commercial herd out to 130 over the next twelve months by breeding our own replacement heifers,” the Sligo man concludes. “We’ll also increase the pedigree herd with the addition of quality cattle.”
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 7 No 1, February/March 2019