Jim Geoghegan remembers his accidental introduction to the Charolais breed as one of the “happiest days” that changed his life.
it was more than a quarter of a century ago that the Westmeath man was persuaded to buy a pedigree Charolais heifer at a cattle sale in Naas.
“I had taken a break from work to look at what was on offer and had no intention of buying anything until I struck up a conversation with a couple of my neighbors who had a cow or two each at the sale and they said : ‘What damage would they do to you at home?’” he says.
Fast forward to 2022 and his Lisnagre herd ranks among the best purebred Charolais herds in the country, with 25 breeding cows running alongside a few commercials and an exceptional record of show and sales success.
“The Charolais have been good to me. It’s the achievement of raising some really good animals that I’m proud of even more than the money they make,” says Jim, who has sold bulls for up to €16,600.
“I was lucky. I invested in very good cows. By buying well-reproducing cows I was able to build up the herd – and quality always comes first because every man is looking for an animal that produces a good calf.”
Jim’s achievements include showing junior and senior champions at the Charolais Society Premier Spring Show in 2018.
He particularly appreciates the Female Championship of the Show Rosette (and subsequent RDS Champion of Champions) for Lisnagre Yvonne at the National Livestock Show in Tullamore in 2012.
“That was a day I was very proud of,” says the grandfather of six.
Jim and his wife Catherine recently opened the gates of their 150ac Lisnagre Farm near Streamstown, between Tullamore and Mullingar, to host the start of the 2022 Tullamore Show which takes place on Sunday 14th August.
Jim has been exhibiting at the Tullamore Show for decades and he says he can’t remember the last time he didn’t take home a leading prize.
Born into a farming family, Jim began construction at the age of 16 and built a successful career as a plasterer.
In 1990 he took over the management of his parents’ farm – and continued to work in construction. This included the purchase and completion of Forward Stores.
While working at Tallaght Hospital in the early 1990s, he decided to take a few hours off to attend an auction at the Charolais Society in Naas.
“I didn’t know much about the breed but I got in touch with (lead breeder) Peter Spollen and he selected a heifer for me and I bought it,” he says.
This heifer, Greyfog Lena, became the foundation of his Lisnagre herd and his relationship with Peter was critical to his success.
In 2008 Jim bought the dam and later a daughter from Peter’s multi award winning Ballydownan Simone.
Ballydownan Violet bred Lisnagre Elite, who was sold to NCBC in 2010 and became the top performing sire in 2014 with an all-time record for the breed of 9,231 calves registered for him, almost triple his closest rival.
Jim says Violet was critical to his breeding success
“It all goes back to Violet. She was the key. I knew she had to be good because I knew her mother and felt she couldn’t go wrong – she bred many good bulls that fetched top prices.
“Breeding in the herd goes back to all the same bloodlines. They have been among the best cows in the country for generations and they still supply the goods for me.”
In addition to Elite, two other bulls were purchased from AI centers – Lisnagre Handsome (HJZ) by Dovea Genetics, Thurles; and Lisnagre Laurence (CH4285) from Dunmasc Genetics, Portlaoise.
Six of the best cows in the herd are now being flushed using Richard Duff’s Champion Embryo Transfer Service in Co Laois. Recently, 20 pregnancies were achieved from 21 embryos.
After 40 years in construction, boom and bust, Jim returned to full-time farming in 2016, “to a job I enjoy and take pride in what I produce”.
“I invested (in livestock) when times were good and I could see that the construction business was going to change,” he says.
“I think the investment I made back then is paying off now.”
As for further expansion?
“I’m very happy with what I have,” he says.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/beef/pedigree/how-this-builder-bought-a-pedigree-charolais-heifer-on-a-day-off-and-went-on-to-sell-bulls-for-up-to-16600-41619994.html How this builder bought a purebred Charolais heifer on a day off… and then sold bulls for up to €16,600