Herd: Mercury Angus
Name: John and Shane Murphy
We established the herd in 2007 with the purchase of the incalf heifer Vega Meg E714 from next door neighbour Timmy Twomey.We were an all commercial herd at that time, but Shane wanted to go a different route
The Mercury Angus herd is based outside Banteer in North Cork was established in 2007by Shane and John Murphy.
Shane: “I purchased my first cow when I was 14 years old. We were an all commercial herd at that time, but I wanted to go a different route with money I had saved up.”
We had looked into a number of breeds at the time, but the Angus breed just seemed to tick all the boxes for me. Easy calving was probably the biggest thing.The herd remained majority commercial for a number of years after this, with John then also turning to pedigree Angus breeding.
John explains that “Shane was buying pedigree Angus anytime he had enough saved up. I also added a few to the herd, replacing commercial cattle with pedigrees. The last of the commercial cattle left in 2012 and we have been all pedigree Angus since then.”
With the herd increasing, we started to focus more and more on bloodlines. We soon realised the importance of choosing stock based on proven family lines as well as phenotypic characteristics.
It was probably two years after the initial purchase that wer made our biggest investment. We were regular callers to Jerry Henchy’s Friarstown herd in Limerick, as he had so much to see due to the amount of money he was investing in embryos and livestock at the time. While we were looking at heifers, I saw a bull calf of eight months and knew I had to have him. We still only had about six cows, but we just knew a bull like this doesn’t come around that often.
Shane got the bull that day and also purchased a mature cow. The bull was Friarstown Idol, and the cow was from the Evening Tinge line. These two acquisitions is what really introduced our Mercury prefix to everyone.
The Evening Tinge cow had a heifer calf, Mercury Fab Tinge, that December that went on to be one of the best breeders in the herd. Following on from this, she had a bull calf the next year sired by Friarstown Idol. Mercury Hunter was the name of the bull and he went on to become champion at the Irish Angus Munster branch Kilmallock premier 2012 and sold for €4,600.
Fab Tinge produced a number of stand outs including Mercury Knight who was reserve overall champion at the Elite sale in Carrick before selling for €4,000 at 11 months. Adding to this her only daughter Mercury Lovely Tinge sold for €8,000 with her son selling to Dovea AI for €5,500, the top Angus bull price at auction in 2018.
From Mercury Hunter, our stock bull Friarstown Idol went on to sire progeny in the herd which claimed top placings and top prices at all major shows and sales. His daughters were standouts selling as high as €8,100 for Mercury J Flora.
Following the purchase of Idol, both Shane and John invested in acquiring some other top lines.
Over the years we have brought dozens of the most proven family lines into the herd. However at the moment we’re down to only a handful. To stay in our herd, cattle need to be born easily, grow fast and produce and feed a calf of better quality then itself.
Added to this the herd is run as commercial as possible. No cow on farm receives concentrates, with the majority feeding a calf for 10 months of the year.
Even when you’re doing things right, the margins are very tight. So we need to keep costs as low as possible and only breed the most productive cows.
We’ve been lucky enough to be able to get our hands on some of the best family lines available, standouts been the Evening Tinge’s, Flora’s, Ellen Erica’s and Elba’s. These pedigrees are sought after around the world and it’s easy to see why with the way they produce.
We have always aimed to have a good stock bull on farm. We would consider a lot of the bulls we are able to buy for our own use to be as good if not better than most bulls available in AI. Our last bull Luddenmore Just the Business bred a Munster and all-Ireland champions, an AI bull and some of the best heifers we ever had. The biggest problem with finding a good stock bull is that with a small herd you don’t get to hold onto them long enough and after four years he was purchased back by his breeder.
Other stock bulls include the aforementioned Friarstown Idol, Mogeely Minto, Northern Irish bull Knockoneill Figo, Friarstown Paddy Pershore and Friarstown Lord Rathmore. This bulls bloodlines come from some of the best families in the world including Netherallan Pride of Pershore S44, Rawburn Lady Ross A105 and Netherton Frances A103.