VJ Hurling first VJ bull bought outside Scandinavia
The family has been using genetics from the Viking countries ever since Ben Tyrrell’s grandfather imported the first Danish Jersey bull into Ireland, 50 years ago.
By Verónica Löfgren, Communicator
In closing a circle that started in 1962, Viking Jersey Woodtown Horn Hurling, VJ Hurling, was born on the same farm that 50 years ago imported the first bull into Ireland from Denmark. VJ Hurling was bred at Richard and Ben Tyrell’s herd at Woodtown Jerseys in Kildalkey, Ireland. Father and son have been using the best of VikingGenetics’ semen for generations; and it was Ben’s grandfather Garret, who changed the course of the farm that celebrated its centenary this September.
The farm became more of a dairy farm in the 1950s. The import of livestock from the Channel Island of Jersey marked the beginning of the use of Jersey cows here, and in the 1960s, Garret Tyrell made an important decision that not only improved the fame but also paved the road to success for other Irish farmers. Together with Jo Bewley, another passionate farmer, these two men imported the first Danish Jersey bull in 1962.
“That was the first time Danish semen was used here and we have been using it ever since,” Ben says. His father Richard explains the reasons why: “My father knew about the importance of traits such as fertility, and by that time the Nordic countries were already excellent in these kinds of health traits”.
“He was a pioneer, and has since been proved correct that he was always on the right path. Our herd is one of the best you can see all around,” Richard says. Proud of what they have achieved, Richard shows us a black-and-white photo from 1962 of his father and Jo Bewley bringing the first Danish Jersey bull out of the plane that brought him to Ireland.
New generation in charge
Ben Tyrrell took over the management of the farm from his father in 2008. Ben has a clear strategy for the herd of 300 VikingJersey cows. When selecting genetic progress, he aims to guarantee three most important aspects: Fertility, protein production and Udders.
Ireland has seasonal calving with very intensive days between January and May every year. An exceptionally high fertility rate is therefore very welcome. “Whenever I’m choosing a bull, I look at fertility as number one; and they have to be over 100 in NTM for fertility and if it’s below 100 I wouldn’t even consider it,” Ben explains.
Next on the list of priorities is protein Kl. “Protein pays double compared to fat; the third trait I look for is Udders. Those are the three essential traits on this farm,” Ben adds.
This focused way of breeding is paying off and this summer, VikingGenetics bought from the Woodtown About Farm the first VikingJersey bull bred beyond Nordic Country borders. VJ Hurling is a son of VJ Horn, and following fine genomic test results from the calf, the team at VikingGenetics headquarters in Assentoft decided to buy him.
It was actually the first time that the owner of this farm had taken a genomic test on his herd: “The sire of this bull, VJ Horn, has a very high production index and high NTM. He has all the traits that I’m looking for,” Ben Tyrell says.
His combination hit the bull’s eye. “Ben made some super alternative combinations with VJ Horn and we tested a handful of sons. I checked both dam and grand dam, but eventually, it was the genomic proof of the bull that made me buy him,” Peter Larson, Breeding Manager for VikingJersey, says.
“VJ Hurling will be known for good female fertility, high percentages of fat and protein, good feet & legs, excellent mammary and udders plus health and longevity,” Larson adds.
“Other markets might also find him interesting when we publish his breeding values and start marketing him,” Larson says.
Check out VJ Horn JE2268, sire of Hurling, Horn daughter pictured below.
Check out our 37 Jersey Sires available here
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