Ross & Melainie McNiven 

About Us 

We’ve had Montbeliardes on our farm since the early ‘90s when my mum and dad bought some Montbeliarde heifers from France. They also bought some Montbeliarde embryos back then. By using Montbeliarde bulls on the dairy herd, by the end of the ‘90s the whole herd was Montbeliarde or Montbeilarde Cross. 
Ross & Melainie McNiven Montbeliarde Cattle
Before getting into Montbeliardes, mum and dad had a herd of about 50 to 60 British Friesians. Every year they would AI about 30 Friesian cows to Friesian bulls. They always hoped to get at least 50% female calves, but they never did. One year they had 23 AI bred bull calves. People sometimes forget that even back then, the price for a Friesian bull calf wasn’t much better than what it is now. 
So mum and dad got into Montbeliardes in an attempt to increase the value of their bull calves. €100 extra profit on a bull calf is equivalent to a little profit on an awful lot of milk. They also wanted to increase the protein percentage in their milk as they could see that they weren’t being paid purely for volume. 
The Montbeliarde bull calves were sold at three to four weeks old. The Montbeliarde heifer calves could be kept as replacers, sold as calves, or kept for a while and then sold as maiden heifers, in calf heifers, or as milking heifers after calving. 
We took over the farm as quotas were being phased out and we decided, rather than expanding, which would be difficult given the layout of the farm, to do something a bit different. We decided to sell the milking herd and focus on breeding replacement heifers. 
Every year we calve around 70 heifers in the Spring, train them in the milking parlour for around three to four weeks, and then sell them in milk. We sell them all! So we start milking at the end of January, and typically finish milking mid-April. 
It has its challenges, milking only heifers, but over the years we’ve learned some tricks and techniques to make it work. 
Montbeliarde Cattle 

Why Montbeliarde? 

We stuck with the Montbeliarde breed for a few reasons. Firstly we like them! We’ve also built up a reputation over the years, following on from my mum and dad, for selling good quality heifers, that are ready to go. We also see the benefit in the added value in the bull calf. 
Every year we get some new customers. We also have many repeat customers. We keep in contact with many of our customers and on many occasions we get feedback on certain heifers that we, or even my parents sold, perhaps ten years ago, that are still milking away in another herd. That’s another advantage of the Montbeliarde breed, their longevity. It’s an advantage we don’t see, but our customers do! 
For more information about the Montbeliarde Cattle Society of Ireland and our offerings, please explore our website or contact us directly. We are here to assist you in any way we can. 
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