Established in 1997, the Westfield Aubrac herd is set to go under the hammer on Saturday 22 January in Ballinakill Mart, Co Laois, at noon.
Started by the husband and wife partnership of James and Suzette Phelan in Abbeyleix, the herd was founded on the best of French bloodlines.
Having spotted the breed at the National Ploughing Championships 25 years ago, Aubracs ticked all the boxes for the Phelans who had acquired land two years previous.
James said: “We met a French technician called Philip Labarrie in the Aubrac tent that year. We were looking to get into a breed, but weren’t sure which one. We just liked the look of them and the rest is history.”
This encounter with Labarrie soon led to the Phelans importing two in-calf cows from France. This pair from the Valadier herd in the Aubrac region of France went on to form the bedrock of the Westfield herd.
These calved soon after arrival and from there, the herd was kept quite tight, with only three other female additions from France.
While semen was imported from top bulls in France at the time, once numbers grew the Westfield herd then started importing stock bulls.
We had great success with the bulls we got from France
“We had great success with the bulls we got from France. Philip was still advising us well at the time, as he knew every detail of the cows over there. We continued buying bulls from France until the quality Irish supply came on the market,” James added.
The duo backed their pedigree choice by also using these Aubrac bulls on commercial stock they had.
Before long, the commercial and pedigree herd grew to 75-head strong, with a ready demand for stock off farm. Commercial bulls and many of the pedigree bulls were castrated and sold as steers, with only the best sold on for breeding.
Constant culling so that only the best were bred means the Westfield herd dispersal contains 25 years of proven bloodlines. In the sale are 13 in-calf cows, five maiden heifers, one first-calver and one 22-month-old bull.
“If I was to say one thing about the Aubracs, it’s that they are reliable. We don’t live on the farm and the cows have generally all calved by themselves. Our bullocks then killed out super, with all grading U,” James said.