Northern Ireland Limousin Cattle Club Report 2007

Right from the start of the Club’s 27th year it was clear that a lot of hard work was needed, not only in helping to maintain Limousins as Britain’s largest numerical beef breed, but to add another dimension, that of a continued improvement in breeding standards, raising our sights to a level, not only of numbers, but of star-rated quality. And was this achieved? The remainder of this report will indicate that it was.

2007 started with the same team leaders heading up Club affairs. Elizabeth Rodgers, by this time well established as the provider of Secretarial Services, and Bryan McElroy having had the “nod” from the Executive Committee to take on a second year – a partnership which, “aided and abetted” by a forward-looking Committee whose skills are put to best use through a number of sub-committees – has taken the Club to even greater heights than ever before.

While the record of successes of local Shows and Sales are important and need to be recorded, it was the application of those elements of breeding and semen management that were necessary to give added value to Northern Ireland stock and semen supplies that have been of utmost importance. And this “added value” was achieved in several fields. Crawford Bros from Fermanagh, well established Limousin breeders, with Cogent, using two French-bred Bulls, established a sexed semen business in 2007 and semen supplies are now in circulation worldwide. In conjunction with the Meat and Livestock Commission NI, numerous visits have been made to Europe and contacts made for the supply of Limousin stock. But perhaps of most importance was the fact that Northern Ireland stock appearing in mainland shows and markets is up there with the best as the following notable recorded successes indicate:

Carlisle February 07: James McKay- Ampertaine Abracadabra – 29,000gns
Carlisle May 07: Martin Conway – Craigatoke Apache – 30,000gns
Carlisle May 07: R S Clyde – Clydevally Arty – 24,000gns
Carlisle Autumn Sale: James McKay – Ampertaine Bravo – 24,000gns and Supreme Champion

The Official Society Pedigree Sales which the Club organises on the Society’s behalf are of vital importance to breeders and three such sales were organised – two in spring and one in the autumn – and while the beef scene in 07 could hardly be termed buoyant, sales were solid and with stock quality ever improving several notable high prices were realised. The all-female sale in January saw Trevor Robinson’s Glarryford Tammie, by Ashmara Nuts leading with 3,200gns while Francis McAuley, Toomebridge topped the February sale with 5,000gns for a Kype Spartacus son; in April it was J & J Mallon of Cookstown who had the Champion – a Uchon son – selling at 3,200gns while in November Tyrone Breeders took the honours with H & D McFarland at 6,200gns for a bull by Nectar. The Club also staged a Club Sale of bulls and females in May attracting good numbers and with, again, satisfactory prices, M & C Loughran’s, entry, a bull by Nenuphar, topping the market at 4,800gns.

Bearing in mind that Limousin is dubbed “the Carcase Breed” it seemed imperative that a Carcase Competition be held and this duly happened. Reverting to an event where Limousin and Limousin/cross animals are presented at the abattoir with carcases being judged “on the hook”, this year’s event attracted a good entry and there were many fine specimens of quality carcases for Judge Mr Terry White from MLC to examine. His Champion, an exceptional carcase, was brought forward by Mr W Fleming from Desertmartin with the Reserve also of special quality from Mr W D Graham’s beef herd at Tempo in Fermanagh.

Then came the start of the “Royal” Shows with Balmoral in May being the first and Limousins were outstanding both in numbers (more than any other breed) but also in the quality of the animals currently being bred in Northern Ireland. On a wet Day, Judge Chris Pennie, from Powys had his work cut out as he viewed the stock as they paraded and made his selections for each class – some with as many as 20 entries – and comprising animals from both Northern and Southern Ireland. Mr Pennie paid tribute to the quality of cattle on show and he complimented the exhibitors on their display and the N I Breeders for their maintenance of improving standards. Many of the Show regulars remembered how last year the judge chose as his Overall Champion a junior heifer, Carmorn Voney, shown by Club Vice-chairman, Peter Smyth, and bred by Charles and Francis McAuley. Voney was again on show and Mr Pennie selected her as Female and Show Champion 2007. The Reserve Champion was a 2-year-old daughter of Graham’s Samson shown by Mr Tom Bailey, who maintains the Baileys herd at Dunboyne in County Meath in the Republic of Ireland. Champion Junior Heifer was David Kenwell’s Kendrom Betty by Jockey while the Male Championship went to James McKay of Maghera with Ampertaine Bravo by Sympa and the Reserve to Darren McCormick of Brookeborough with a French bull, Ravageur, by Ionesco. A second but no less important “double” came in the prestigious Marks & Spencer Junior Inter-Breed Champion of Champions event when David Kenwell beat all comers with Kendrom Betty, and again in the equally much sought after Marks & Spencer Beef Champion of Champions award where Peter Smyth’s Carmorn Voney took pride of place. Breeders here did not confine themselves to local shows and Peter Smyth with Crawford Bros and Bernard Mairs had a busy season at shows on the mainland with successes there, too. The Crawford Bros with their bull Sauvignon notably winning the Breed and Interbreed Championship at the Great Yorkshire.

In the meantime the Young Breeders Club had been taking their skills at stockjudging seriously and choosing a team for the other “Royal” – the English one – and making preliminary plans for the autumn Calf Spectacular which was again an impressive event. Their Stockjudging efforts this year were well rewarded as both Senior and Junior teams won their events at the Royal with Benedict Savage also taking the Noel Lusby Cup. The teams also took part in a Stockjudging and handling competition held at Tullamore, in the Irish Republic, at the Irish National Ploughing Championships, earning an overall second place team prize and a well-merited third place individual.

Then came the round of twelve local shows where Limousin classes were well supported. Points gained from class placings go towards the Club competition for Show team of the year – won by the Campbell Family of Carnlough – with the breeder gaining the most Championships being awarded the Gordon Bull (shared between The Rodgers Family and R S Clyde.

Next up was Derby Day, a competition organised between the N I Club and the Irish Limousin Society 10 years ago but which, because of Animal Health restrictions, had never happened. But in 2007 it did!! And this was the result: a total of thirteen heifers and twelve bulls had qualified and the parades in front of Scottish Judge Mr Archie McGregor were sensational and very much appreciated by the huge crowd, many of the whom were keen to see how the cattle in one part of the country sized up against the others although there was also much general interest in breeding lines. And how did they all fare? Who won? Well, the Heifer Championship went to The Irish Limousin Society with the Bull Championship being won by the N I Club while the Irish Limousin Society Challenge Shield for overall highest points gained went to the N I Club – a very fair result.

In August 2007, 28 NI Limousin Breeders joined with 38 Irish Breeders and set off on a weekend trip to Limoges in France intent on seeing how, in the home of the Limousin, the Frenchmen are continuing to meet the breeding demands of what is now a worldwide breed. The schedule for the trip was to go to Brive in France, to visit some top herds, to attend the Festival De L’Elevage Show of Limousins and the KBS Prestige VIII sale and all this was achieved and greatly enjoyed by the entire group. The group stayed in the beautiful City of Brive and had the opportunity to sample some excellent beef – here most folk like it a bit rare or “blue” in French. Right there, in the centre of the City, was a marquee with at least 200 Limousin cattle for their prestigious show together with some 46 selected cattle for the sale. Like all good things, there has to be an ending but the Group returned home on Sunday night well satisfied that what they had seen and done was worthwhile both from a social and an educational viewpoint. And the members were agreed that the trip had been well organised and thanked the NI Secretary, Elizabeth Rodgers, Chairman Bryan McElroy, together with Irish Limousin Secretary Ger Ryan and Development Officer Noel Gowen for the quality of the arrangements.

The final competition of the year is the Herd Competition and its associated Specials. Judged this year by Mr Ian Callion and with a higher than ever entry his task was massive and these are the results:

Large Herd:
1.  James McKay, Ampertaine Herd. 2. C & F McAuley, Carmorn Herd. 3.  L & R Allison
Medium Herd:
1.  C Murray, Annadale Herd. 2.  H & D McFarland, Rahoney Herd. 3.  Jim Quail, Lynderg Herd.
Small Herd:
1.  Brian McElroy, Bridgeford Herd. 2.  Mark Stewart, Lenagh Herd. 3.  D. Kenwell, Kendrom Herd

Best group of calves born in 2007: Henry McCracken, Seaview Herd
Best group of calves born in 2007: by stock bull: Derek Hume, Culnagechan Herd (Glenrock Vagrant)
Best Young Bull born in 2006: James McKay, Ampertaine Herd (Bermuda)
Best Cow Family: C & F McAuley, Carmorn Herd (Carmorn Holly)
Best Stock Bull: TJ Adams, Fedneyhouse Herd. (Ulm)