Carmarthenshire-based breeder John Phillips has been elected as Chairman of the British Limousin Cattle Society (BLCS) following the Society’s Annual General Meeting held in Leamington Spa on 18th September 2014.

Having served as a Council Member since 2008, he takes over from Peter Kirton who had served as Chairman for a three year term of office. John Phillips, who had been the Society’s Vice Chairman during the previous twelve months, becomes the 15th Chairman of the BLCS in its 43 year history, and the third from Wales.

John Phillips BLCS Chairman
John Phillips BLCS Chairman

John, together with his wife Heather, joined the BLCS in 1990. Their Gronw Herd based at Esgerddeugoed, Cwmfelin-Mynach, Whitland was established following the private purchase of a Limousin cow and calf from the Drysgold herd of Leslie Thomas, the first importer of Limousins into Wales. Other breeding outfits followed, bought both privately and at Society Sales, and the herd of Hereford x Friesian commercial sucklers were gradually replaced by the 50-strong pedigree Limousin enterprise run currently. The breeding ewe flock was sold around 6-7 years ago so today the pure Limousins have the run of the 200-acre farm. The herd is run on a working commercial basis, with the top-end bulls sold for breeding predominantly through Carlisle, Brecon and Whitland markets and the rest ‘on the hook’ before they reach 15 months.

A Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society as well as a Past Chairman of Wales YFC, John Phillips has keenly followed the development of the Limousin breed at home and throughout the world having attended the International Limousin Congress (ILC) in Zimbabwe and Canada respectively. One of his first duties as Chairman will be to lead a thirty-strong UK delegation to the ILC due to be held in Argentina this coming November.

However, John’s main concentration is the United Kingdom and taking the Limousin breed forward from its already strong industry position.  Commenting he said, “The Limousin breed has officially been the UK’s number one beef breed for some eighteen years.  It is the dominant terminal sire and the benchmark suckler cow within the industry.”

“This sustained success is due to the breed hitting market requirements through its calving ease, feed efficiency, growth and carcase yield, longevity and marketability.  There is a pressure on the beef industry and suckler cow numbers in the UK but producers know that they can rely on Limousin breeding for consistency, performance, and profitability.”

At the AGM, the Society announced a major seven-figure investment in the breed’s future with a ten-year Limousin Breed Improvement Plan.  Aims of the plan include the accelerated improvement of the breed’s easy calving capabilities; improving rates of gain in growth and carcase traits; and the introduction of measures to identify and further improve feed efficiency.  In a further comment, Mr. Phillips said:

“I am very honoured to have been elected as Chairman of the UK’s leading beef breed Society.  As with my predecessors I will be working hard with the BLCS Council and members, to develop the breed and add value through new breeding technologies as they become available.  The Breed Improvement Plan is indicative of this and is an ambitious body of work aimed at financially benefiting pedigree and commercial producers and the industry at large.”

Stephen Illingworth who runs the Glenrock pedigree herd at Howgillside, Eaglesfield, Lockerbie was elected at the same meeting as the British Limousin Cattle Society’s Vice Chairman.