Another Great Year for the Limousin Breed

As the Northern Ireland Club moved into its 30th year, still buoyed up by the euphoria of being recognised as the largest of the beef breeds, it was with hopes that Limousins in this part of the UK could continue their upward climb to recognition of all that is best in a beef breed.  And this was clearly achieved. 2010 proved to be the year when the quality and style of the Limousin cattle bred in NI was acknowledged, especially by the general interest that has been paid both at home and across the water- and by the prices which buyers were willing to pay for local stock.    Figures such as 29,000gns for Ampertaine Abracadabra; 30,000gns for Craigatoke Apache; 30,000gns for Millgate Clinker and, to top the list, 38,000gns for Henry Savage’s heifer, Trueman Duet, the second highest figure realised for a heifer in the UK.     When, to this, is added the recent discovery of the F94L Gene, a gene which increases the weight of prime cuts by 19% and overall beef yield by 7%, being a modification of the myostatin gene called F94L and, as this is shown to occur with high frequency in Limousin cattle but with very low frequencies in other breeds the future of our “special” breed – Limousins-,  especially in Northern Ireland, is certainly on the up and up.

2010 marked a further important milestone in the life of the Northern Ireland Club with the appointment of Mrs Heather Hume as the provider of Secretarial Services.   Mrs Hume is well known to Club Members and especially well known in Ladies circles as an expert in flower arranging but she also plays a major part in the running of the Culnagechan Limousin herd in conjunction with husband Derek and Son, Gary.  Heather’s services were acquired in April following the AGM where she teamed up with Club Chairman, Mr Bryan McElroy, now in his fourth year in the chair, to form what has become a formidable partnership from which, supported by with an active and progressive Executive Committee, the Club has benefited on many fronts

The Official Society Pedigree sales which the Club organises on the Society’s behalf are of vital importance to breeders and five such sales were organised – four in Spring/Summer and one in the Autumn – and  plenty of cattle changed hands and with stock quality ever improving and coupled with an increased consumer interest, several notable high prices were realised.   McKenna Bros. from Bellaghy topped the February sale in Ballymena with 2,250gns for an attractive cow and calf; in February  Martin Conway’s Craigatoke Decibull sold at 4,000gns while in March it was 4,000gns, again, paid for Mr H McCourt’s Edenross Dasher.   May  saw Allison Bros with an attractive bull, Scotchtown Darcy realise 6,000gns and in November Ian Barr, with Homeland Ed, was top with 4,200gns.

Limousins were also represented at the Beef Expo – a new venture for Northern Ireland – in March-  and the Breed’s stand there was busy right though the event dealing with Breeders and others wishing information on Limousins.  The Limousin Stand – which included a number of good cattle – won the top stand prize.

May brought the Balmoral Show – the first of the Royals – and Limousins were there in all their glory. Balmoral Show in 2010 gave breeders an opportunity of displaying the strength of the Breed but also demonstrating the quality of the stock currently being bred in Northern Ireland.

The 2010 Balmoral Press headlines read like this: “FIVE STAR LIMOUSINS AT ROYAL ULSTER” with the Breed securing all five Interbreed titles.

The Young Breeders, too, had successes in the Cattle Handling competitions with Rebecca Adams finishing in first place in the 16-21 Handlers’ Class with Gary Hume taking second and, with the Club Stand busy with almost constant enquiries about the breed, Balmoral 2010, in spite of some inclement weather, was, for Limousins, an outstanding success.

In the meantime the Young Breeders Club had been honing their skills at stockjudging and choosing teams for The Great Yorkshire UK and Anglo-Irish Competitions, Kilkenny, in the Irish Republic – where they eventually beat all comers from England, Wales, Scotland the Republic of Ireland to take the Top Award for team and overall individual, while also making preliminary plans for the autumn Calf Spectacular which once more was staged with great success.

Then came the round of local shows – there are twelve – with Limousin classes well supported.   It is here that breeders qualify animals for the ever popular Heifer and Bull Derbies held later in the year.  As well, points gained from class placings go to the Club competition for Show Team of the Year – won by he Crawford Family, while the award  – the Gordon Bull – for the breeder gaining the most Championships also went their way.

The All-Ireland Derbies continued in 2010 with the competition as fierce as ever between the breeders in the North and the South of our Island. The final took place at the Annual Show at Cappamore, right in the heart of the Irish Republic and proved to be a well-received show piece which attracted interest from all and sundry and much praise from the local cattlemen.

Heifer Derby

1st D Tynan Ardlea Electra

2nd D Murray Titchburn Elegance

Bull Derby

1st P Murphy Carrickaldreen Enrico

2nd Alan Kelly Killcastle Eric

The overall points shield was awarded to the NI Limousin Club

Acknowledging the impact made by Limousins on the Commercial Cattle scene, the Club organised a very successful Commercial Herd Competition and this brought to light again the strength of this sector in the North of Ireland as well as confirming that, especially as regards sires, the Limousin continued to hold sway.  The competition resulted as follows:-

Small Herd

1        William Ward, Crumlin

2        W Martin, Broughshane

3         J Gilliland

4         C Henry


Large Herd

1         J Alexander/ W Corrie

2        O Crawford/J McSorley

3        Chesney


The final competition of the year is the Herd Competition and its associated Specials judged this year by Mr Craig Ridley and supported by a higher than ever entry.

Large herd

1 Ampertaine – James McKay

2 Carmorn – Frances McAuley

3  Culnagechan – Derek Hume

Medium Herd

1  Lynderg – Jim Quail

2 Trueman – Henry Savage

3  (Tie) Ballyrobin – Joan Gilliland & Ballynahone – R Henderson

Small Herd

1  Titchburn – Donal Murray

2  Carnew – J & J Aiken

3   (Tie) Lisbeg – Victor Patterson & Lenagh – Mark Stewart

Best stock Bull: Carmorn Cantona – Derek Frew

BestYoung Bull: Ampertaine Elgin – James McKay

Best young calves: Ampertaine – James McKay

Cow Family: Ballynahone – R Henderson

Best Group of calves by stock Bull:

  1. Carmorn Cantona – Derek Frew
  2. Carmorn Copilot – Derek Hume
  3. Bailie Bullion – McKinney Bros

In this, its 30th Year, the NI Club has demonstrated yet again that it is playing its part fully, as a region of the British Limousin Society, in the maintenance and promotion of the Limousin Breed within its boundaries. But, as in life generally, sadness is always close by and the Club continues to mourn the untimely death of Victor Woods, one of the Club’s most stalwart members and also, through his work at Greenmount College, a firm believer in the qualities inherent in the Limousin breed. His loss to the breed was further exacerbated when the Limo Project which he had nursed since its inception, was closed and the stock dispersed in the Ballymena ale ring in October with two Limo cows with calves, Limo Verse and Limo Babe making 9,500gns apiece.

The Club’s Dinner Dance and presentation of awards brought to a close a year which can be looked back on with the satisfaction that local breeders, well serviced by its Officers and an active Executive Committee, are maintaining the breed at standards equal to or in many cases, better than, any other region in the UK or in Ireland and they can take pride from their successes as the year 2010 draws to a close.