Tipperary native Sean Hayden currently runs one of Ireland’s only herds of Stabiliser cattle. He’s also been the Premier County’s ICSA chairman for more than a year now, so Irish Tractor & Agri felt it was time to catch up with and hear from the man himself.
These have been a busy past few years for Sean Hayden and the Tipperary man isn’t complaining, having only bought his first bulls five years ago.
Today the commercial suckler beef farmer’s herd is has gained recognition by Irish breeders as well as those overseas. Earlier this year, Sean welcomed a delegation of French visitors that were involved in the bovine genetics field and they were hugely impressed by the standard of his herd.
Based in Longford Pass just outside of Thurles in Co Tipperary, Sean’s family farm has seen rapid growth these past few years and he was good enough to take time from an increasingly hectic schedule to tell Irish Tractor & Agri all about it.
“I bought my first bulls in the UK in 2013 and I’ve been upgrading them ever since. Today, I think we have 75 thoroughbred calves,” Sean outlined.
“There’s a couple of parts to what we do here. We produce haylage to Co-ops – that’s something we’ve been at for 20 years now and my brother Eamonn is involved in that.
“Then we also breed horses for sport as well. So Hayden’s Haylage is under the haylage and the farm is under Sean Hayden. The whole lot is run on 110 hectors.”
It seems the Longford Pass native has a lot of his plate when you factor in that he runs one of Ireland’s only herds of Stabiliser cattle.
It’s a breed known for its docility and feed conversion efficiency and Sean himself will tell you that the switch from continental-crossbreeds has helped to turn around his suckler venture both profit-wise and with regards to labour input.
Indeed things have come a long ways since Sean first started out in the farming game, having originally followed in his father’s footsteps before paving his own path.
“I was born on a farm. So I’m originally from a dairy farm and I went working on horses then in the 1980s,” he stated.
“I went farming with my father (Thomas) in the 1990s and just carried it on from there when he quit. My father is not involved anymore but my nephew Martin, whose Eamon’s son, does help us out here during the summer.”
Sean does like to keep his work in the family but, for the most part, it’s him running the show on a daily basis.
These past 12 months in particular have been quite hectic, according to the man himself.
“It’s been a busy year. There’s a huge amount going on with the haylage side of the business,” he said.
Centenary Co-Op Two Mile Borris and Cleanline Farm Services in Tipperary would be where the haylage goes and it’s all put into vacuum-packed bags. So we’re kept busy with that along with what else we’re up to here.”
2018 was also the first year that the Stabiliser herd has sold pedigree females. The reason for that being that there has been a high rate of replacement retention in recent years.
Sean is presently working on building the herd up to 120 pedigree breeding females. The plan is that a percentage of the progeny from the best cow families will be retained to breed so as to raise the calibre of the farm ever higher.
Sean is clearly excited about the further potential that the Stabilisers have and his vision for the future is undoubtedly for his farm to reach even greater heights than it has already managed in the space of just five short years.
Sean has taken on the role of ICSA chairman for Co Tipperary a little over 12 months ago.
“That’s the night time job,” he laughed. “It’s not hugely demanding but it’s something I’m honoured to be doing and I’m getting very good help with the staff in Portlaoise.
“I’m just over a year as chairman now and it’s nice to be in this kind of role. I’ve been in the organisation since it was first founded. They recently celebrated 25 years and back at the start myself and my father took two memberships at the time.”
This past July saw the ICSA host a suckler farm walk on Sean’s farm in Longford Pass.
The walk itself was an ideal opportunity to share information and exchange ideas and was well attended on the evening on July 4th.
“John Hally, who is chairman of the suckler committee, asked if I would host it to showcase the stock that we have here,” explained Sean.
“It was a good opportunity to see something different and I have to say it was a good afternoon. The weather was good, it was just getting into the draught during the summer, and there could have been well over 100 people here.”
Billy O’Kane, a previous winner of the Farmers Weekly UK Beef Farmer of the Year, was a guest speaker on the evening. Both he and Sean discussed the aspects of their enterprises and took questions from those in attendance.
Michael Ryan, a nutritionist from Hennessy Feeds, was also a guest speaker on the evening which was widely regarded as an all-round success.
Thurles, Co. Tipperary
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 7 No 1, February/March 2019