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Jerry's herd downsizing a lifestyle choice

September 19th, 2019 8:05 PM

By Emma Connolly

Jerry Hegarty on his farm at Mohonagh, Skibbereen, with some of his pedigree friesian cattle herd. (Photo: Anne Minihane)

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SOME of the country’s top cattle breeders will be in Skibbereen this weekend for a highly anticipated youngstock dispersal auction.

Jerry Hegarty, Mohonogh, Church Cross, Skibbereen is downsizing his considerable farming operation and is auctioning some 100 young stock (all between six months and two years).

The Mohonagh Holstein Friesian herd going under the hammer comprises 17 heifers near calving, 20 spring calving heifers, 24 bulling heifers born Autumn ’18 and 30 heifer calves born Spring ’19. Deep type cow families are a feature of the sale. 

Jerry’s breeding policy has always had the emphasis on production and type and every heifer on sale is from a mature dam (classified either VG or EX). Industry experts say it takes a lifetime to build such a herd consistency and  for Jerry it’s been a labour of life.

He’s been farming for almost 40 years, starting milking in the late ’70s. He says he caught the ‘cattle bug’ having won a national award at a Macra na Feirme show.

Since then, the conformation of cows, or how they look, is something he’s had a very keen interest in. His early farming years were all about buying better blood lines and he joked he’d have ‘spent his last bob’ on a calf!

He also used high-quality semen from around the globe and, in more recent years, has used particular semen to improve the chances of producing heifers.

Jerry, who is recovering from prostate cancer, is downsizing for lifestyle reasons and said his decision was made before his recent illness.

‘I was working the same hours that I did when I was 20; it’s very labour-intensive. The time was right as the lease was up on land I had rented and I decided not to renew it,’  he said, adding that he’ll continue to milk a herd of 100.

Married to Mary, an SNA at Abbeystrewery NS, they are parents to Irish international rower Emily; nursing student, Dermot who plays senior football for Ilen Rovers, and qualified doctor Alice.

  • Taaffe Auctions are running the Youngstock Dispersal Auction this Saturday, September 21st, from 11.30am on Jerry’s farm.

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