'Hero of Irish agriculture' leaves over 100,000 offspring

 

Ireland's most prolific father, who is thought to have at least 100,000 daughters and countless sons, has died aged 15 at his home in Co Kildare.

Galtee Merci, a native of Holland, had been living in Ireland since he was very young, when he first settled in Co Cork.

Described as "a truly great hero of Irish agriculture", GMI, as he was officially known, was one of the first Irish-registered artificial insemination (AI) bulls to be used in this country.

Yesterday, the National Cattle Breeding Centre announced that the "king of modern Irish dairy genetics had bowed out".

It is said that Galtee Merci, who had been imported to work at the Dairygold AI station 10 years ago, had been "put down with regret".

"He moved to Enfield in 2005 on the establishment of the National Cattle Breeding Centre, but in his 15th year he was showing the signs of age and has not been collected for some months. With regret NCBC had him put down," it said.

John Shirley, spokesman for the centre, described the Holstein bull as "a true hero and father of the Irish herd". GMI was one of the first Irish-based bulls to be used to cover Irish cows, he added.

"It is only in recent years that Irish breeders had the confidence to use local bulls and Galtee Merci was the first and perhaps the greatest of these," he said.

He said GMI had at least 100,000 daughters, based on the fact that, at the latest count, 33,400 of his daughters were milk-recorded, and as only 30 per cent of Irish cows are milk-recorded, it was reasonable to assume he had fathered 100,000 daughters.

He said GMI had also fathered a lot of sons and grandsons, some of whom were following the old man into the AI service, being "well balanced for fertility, survivability and production".

He said that over his lifetime, GMI would probably have delivered enough semen to cover at least 250,000 cows throughout the country, and some stocks remained.

"In addition to the cows, his son and grandsons in AI will continue to ensure the Galtee Merci legacy lives on," said Mr Shirley.