Northern Ireland Limousin Club Report 2009

The Society Chairman, Jim Bloom, in his remarks on addressing the NI Club AGM early in the year said: – “Efficiency, improvement, quality of product, meeting the market, performance, adding value with, of course the ultimate aim, profitability. These are the foundations of any successful business and are equally applicable to the business of cattle.” On entering their 29th year the NI Limousin Club Members had a confidence that, by applying maxims such as quoted by Jim Bloom, they had eventually, not only reached a parity with the breed in the rest of the United Kingdom, but were in a position to forge ahead to reach even greater heights. And they were not disappointed. The Club’s “Year 2009” not only established the Limousin Breed more soundly in Northern Ireland, creating a demand for Limousins – both pedigree and commercial – greater than before but, as well, demonstrating, through the Show ring and the markets, that NI–bred cattle can hold their own with any bred on these Islands and, indeed, further afield. This is a report about Limousins in Northern Ireland, how they are bred, how they are marketed and how the special qualities of the breed are publicised.

The year started in the usual manner – at the Ballymena Mart – with the first of the Society sales of the year, this organised in conjunction with the Club, on 10th January, and there was further evidence of the popularity and strength of the breed with a packed sale ring and an almost total clearance of lots forward. This was a female sale with the top price of 2,050gns going to L & R Allison of Limavady for their March 2007 born heifer, Scotchtown Olga, a smart heifer with a Beef Value of LM+26, sired by Greensons Gigolo.

The Perth and Carlisle Sales then took place and NI Breeders were to the fore again with Derek Hume showing the Reserve Overall Champion and selling at 9,500gns at Perth while at Carlisle the Loughran family had the Supreme and Junior Champion, Millgate Caesar, selling at 18,000gns; Derek Hume’s Intermediate Champion realised 11,000gns and James McKay’s first prize-winning bull selling at 10,500gns.

Then followed the Society Sale in Dungannon in February with bulls selling to a top of 4,800gns for the July 2007 born Pointhouse Cantona shown by N Diamond from Garvagh. The March Sale which, having the status of an Export Qualifying Sale, was a new venture in Northern Ireland. Packed judging and sale rings were evidence of the keen interest with the demand translating itself into an average of £2,807 for the 27 bulls on offer. Francis McAuley had the highest price of the day, selling his Supreme Champion Bull, Carmorn Cantona at 6,000gns. At the Carlisle Sales in early May NI Breeders were to the fore again with four out of the six showing classes being won by NI stock and James McKay winning the Intermediate Male and Overall Championship, while David Green had the Champion Junior Male and Reserve Overall Champion.

At this stage of the year the Senior Club Members, recognising the importance of skills of judgement and assessments, organise the support, the nurturing and the training of the members of the Young Breeders’ Club in order that they might be fitted, not only for the continued breeding of pedigree Limousins, but also that they might have a skilled eye to assess the potential of the commercial animals which form a large part of the beef scene. The support and training is evident in the large number of Young Breeders seen taking charge of animals at Shows and is further advanced by the holding of Stock judging training and practice events. A number of these have been held this spring both at Greenmount College and also at Jim Quail’s, Banbridge. These culminate in a competition which selects two teams and one individual to take part in the British Limousin Cattle Society Limousin Stock judging event at the Royal Show. At this the young people meet and compete against others from all over the UK thus widening further their horizons.

The Show season kicks off with Balmoral and The Limousin Breed, as has been the pattern over the past few years had – at 97 head – the greatest number of beef animals catalogued. Again, as in the recent past, entries were taken from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and eight of the entries came from the Republic. There was a tremendous show of top quality cattle and the constant flow of people at the cattle lines generated a great deal of interest in what is now well known as the premier Breed in the British Isles. The Judge of the Limousin classes at Balmoral this year was Mr Trevor Masterson, a well-known breeder of Limousins from Enniscorthy in Wexford, the Republic of Ireland, and he was fulsome in his praise of the stock he had to Judge. Mr Masterson selected as his Champion Mr Paul Brown’s bull, Guards Boomer, a three-year-old son of Rocky and out of Ardbrack Special. Boomer had been purchased in Carlisle for 22,000gns having been bred by Messrs Little in England. For his Reserve Champion he chose Mr William Smith’s 2-year-old cow, Milbrook Ulla by Poker and out of Milbrook Petal bred by Mr Smith at Oldcastle in the Republic. Stephen Crawford’s young heifer was Junior Champion while reserve the Reserve Junior was O & M Davis’s bull (ROI). The first of the Qualifers for the Annual All-Irish Bull and Heifer Derbies were also selected here.

However, the show doesn’t stop with competition within the breed and the Limousin fraternity are always enthusiastic when taking part in the Interbreeds. This year they picked up two reserve places – in the Pairs and Group of Three, but were dominant in the performance event where results are not on visual assessments entirely but on the confirmed performance of the entries, taking first and second places. The Young Breeders, too, had successes in the Cattle Handling Competitions with the “B” Team comprising Rebecca Adams, Phelim Savage and Owen Carragher, taking first place in the Interbreed Stock judging event and, with the Club stand busy with enquiries about the breed, Balmoral 2009, in spite of the weather, was, for Limousins, an outstanding success.

Then, on 25th May, there followed the BLCS Bull and Female sale at Ballymena where a large crowd of eager bidders witnessed a new all-breeds centre record 8,800gns bid for Trevor Robinson’s Limousin Cow, Teeshan Vanoush while the Champion Bull, Slaneburn Dara, was sold by new breeder Charlie Magill for 5,000gns.

Following Balmoral there are the local shows, most of these having been long established and of great importance in the local scene. There are twelve in all and there were eight further Derby Qualifiers chosen for the All-Ireland events planned this year to be held at the Clogher Valley Show in Tyrone in August. Once again the All-Ireland Derbies proved to be a very worthwhile event, bringing, as it did, the very best young bulls and heifers from Northern Ireland and from the Republic of Ireland into open competition. The finals were judged by Mr Peter Henshall, as well known to Irish Breeders as he is in the mainland and he had a tough task. His selection for Champion Bull was Carrickaldreen Dallywag, shown by Peter Murphy, a Northern Ireland Club Member while William Smith from County Cavan once again was unbeatable in the heifer section. The points trophy was won once more by the NI Club.

The 22nd of August 2009 will remain firmly in the minds of Limousin Breeders here and, indeed, further afield, as it was on that Saturday that the biggest ever Club Open Day was staged courtesy of the Corrie family of Newtownards who opened up their substantial farming and butchery business to all on and sundry. On this glorious sunny day some three and a half thousand people flocked to Corries and they were not disappointed. Cattle – cows, calves, bulls – of top quality were there in abundance while the on-farm shop was an attraction which no one was able to resist. The day not only demonstrated in no small measure how the Carcase Breed got its name and why it remains the top breed today but, as an add-on, through an auction and donations raised £28,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease charity.

Following on from this came the Club’s Pedigree Herd Competition judged this year by Gary Swindlehurst who had a massive task selecting 1st, 2nd and 3rds in the Herds entered in the Small, Medium and Large sections from right across the Province, but also deciding the placings in a further six specials. Gary performed his tasks with excellence and professionalism and the Club is greatly in his debt. The Herd Competition results are detailed at the end of the Report.

The Carlisle and Stirling sales followed and, once again, the strength and quality of NI stock shone through with James McKay taking a first in class award at Carlisle and selling at 15,000gns while Joan Gilliland took the Overall Championship at Stirling with Ballyrobin Drambuie selling at 8,000gns November saw the last of the year’s BLCS Sales – at Dungannon – where Raymond Savage’s Aghadolgan bull was top price at 6,000gns but, as well, averages were up by £378 and no fewer than 16 lots found buyers from Scotland while two went to the Republic of Ireland, demonstrating, once more, how breeders are meeting market requirements.

The Club’s Dinner Dance and presentation of awards brought to a close another year of development and progress, a year in which its members registered 2,707 pedigree calves with the BLCS, were well to the fore on the Shows circuits and found an increasing interest and demand for the animals produced. In spite of the euphoria generated with these successes, the year ended on a sad note with the resignation of Lizzie Rodgers, who had given such sterling service as Secretary for the past four years and whose diligence and enthusiasm will be missed by each and everyone in the NI Limousin scene. On the same note, with the retirement from farming of John and Margery Adams, the long-standing Fedneyhouse Herd is dispersed together with Bernard Mairs’ Bearbrook Herd. The Club Members wish John, Margery and Bernard pleasant and fulfilling retirements.

N. I. Herd Competition 2009

1st TRUEMAN Henry Savage
2nd DERRIAGHY David Green
3rd MELBREAK James & Allison Callion

1st BALLYNAHONE Richard Henderson
2nd FEDNEYHOUSE John& Margery Adams
3rd ANNADALE Chris Murray

1st AMPERTAINE James Mc Kay
2nd GLARRYFORD Sam & Robin Coleman
3rd CULNAGECHAN Derek Hume

N. I. Herd Competition 2009- Special Classes

1st BALLYNAHONE DAINSY Richard Henderson
2nd ANNADALE DAINTY Chris Murray
3rd TYRONE DULAHI Willie Wilson

2nd MELBREAK DYNAMITE James & Allison Callion
3rd CARMORN DAUPHIN Francis McAuley

3rd CARMORN PENNY Francis McAuley

1st AMPERTAINE James McKay
2nd BALLYNAHONE Richard Henderson
3rd TRUEMAN Henry Savage

1st ULM Fedneyhouse
2nd GLENROCK VAGRANT Culnagechan
3rd GOLDIES ASTRIX Glarryford

1st GLENROCK VAGRANT Culnagechan
2nd GUARDS BOOMER Rathconville
3rd BAILEA ANDRE Heathmount