The NI Limousin Cattle Club’s Committee member Leslie Hood had the privilege of visiting a superb limX suckler operation based at Whitehead on the shores of Belfast Lough.
The herd belongs to the Beggs family, John, wife Pat and son Ian and the home farm “Seamount” has magnificent views extending over 300 acres in 3 holdings with 270 acres of ground of free draining loam soil and 30 acres of rough grazing.
John purchased the farm in 1966 and concentrated on finishing cattle which were purchased from the West of Ireland, however, in 1986 and the intervention of a new farming policy due to the outbreak of BSE, John was unable to continue this practice. Purchasing a batch of heifers to finish, John changed his mind and ended up keeping them serving them with a limousin bull. This was the start of his suckler herd at Seamount which has been built up to the present level of a herd numbering 200 cows which comprises of 150 Spring calvers and 50 Autumn calvers. John has 4 pedigree limousin stock bulls present on the farm, Ashmore Fivestar a Wilodge Vantastic son, Newtown Godfather sired by Wilodge Cerberus, Rathconville Detonator sired by Brockhurst Timbuktu and Seaview Dougie sired by Ronick Hawk.
Leslie stated “What strikes you immediately about these bulls are their size and superb length combined with easy calving traits and it was this ease of calving that initially attracted John to the limousin breed. He also takes into account EBV’s together with his own eye when selecting a stock bull. John believes in purchasing his herd replacements so that he can hold onto his stock bulls for a considerable length of time. The quality of his calves is a testament to John’s selection of sires and he believes if you put a top confirmation bull to his cows he will get excellent shaped calves”.
Leslie continued “John has great quality cows with the majority of them big “R” grade cows with plenty of milk and great pelvic area. John operates a superb weaning regime for his calves with cows and calves penned but calves are allowed access to separate grazing which then in turn gradually breaks down the cow/calf bond with very little stress and calves are weaning off properly before sale.”
John did finish calf to beef but change a number of years ago due to the fluctuating beef prices and now all his calves are sold through Ballymena Livestock Mart in batches. He has an army of eager buyers because of the quality of calves. Leslie stated “John has tremendous stockman skills and success because of his attention to detail. He starts talking to his calves from birth so that they know his voice and it was amazing to see this in operation. Going into a field John just has to call and all the cows and calves are around you in seconds. The cows and calves have a great temperament.”
John has a great back up team, he would be lost without son Ian’s help and wife Pat who attends to all the paperwork. Ian had been one of the first contestants in the “Farmer wants a wife” and this is where he met his wife Sharon and now they have three children Daniel, Olivia and Jason.
The NI Limousin Cattle Club, and Committee member Leslie, would like to thank the Beggs family for all their hospitality on the farm visit and talking to Leslie about his farming practices.
The Club is now looking forward to the next sale at Dungannon Mart on Friday 23rd October where there are 41 bulls and 15 females catalogued for sale. The pre-show starts at 10.00pm with judge Jimmy McHugh and sale proceeds at 1.00pm. For full details of sale can be obtained by catalogue on www.limousin.co.uk or contacting Secretary Heather on 07850603023.