The dairy enterprise was initially established, based on Holstein genetics, due to availability and price. However, after undertaking some research work on behalf of the Irish Simmental Society, we became interested again in Simmental / Fleckvieh, this time, looking at the Dairy/Dual Purpose bloodlines, now commonly called "Dairy Fleckvieh". We travelled to Austria, the Netherlands and Northern Ireland to see the Dairy Fleckvieh as a pure breed, and also to see how they were performing in cross-breeding / commercial herds. We were very impressed, firstly with the number of pure herds in Austria averaging in excess of 10,000 litres, and also with the excellent health and functional traits seen in the high yielding cross bred herds in Northern Ireland and the Netherlands.
The Celtic Pedigree herd now comprises Dairy Fleckvieh, Holstein Friesian and some Jersey and Jersey cross milking cows. All youngstock are now either pure Fleckvieh or Fleckvieh crosses. Fleckvieh are now being crossed on the entire Holstein herd, with a view to improving cow strength and health traits, and significantly improving male calf and cull cow income. In 2016, many farmers in our area who are using Jersey crosses are having their male calves collected at one week old, an receive €10/ calf. We sold one Fleckvieh cross calf at exactly 30 days old, from a pure-bred Jersey cow, for €265, in our local mart. Allowing €2 / day for the 3 weeks extra milk, that Fleckvieh cross calf still left at least €200 more than if he were by a Holstein/Friesian out of the same cow.