A tremendous show with exceptionally good cattle in every class was how judge William Smith described the Northern Ireland Limousin Young Breeders’ Rising Stars Calf Show, held at Ballymena Mart.

Judge William Smith congratulates Raymond Savage, Louise and Willow Cowan, on winning the supreme championship with Aghadolgan Udiva shown by Allen Shortt. The reserve champion was Bambushka shown by Jack Smyth. Picture: Alfie Shaw, Agri-Images

The County Meath man, owner of the highly acclaimed Millbrook Herd said: “Northern Ireland breeders are regularly at the forefront of Limousin shows and sales nationally, and it’s no surprise with the quality and consistency of the youngstock coming through.”

Members of the NI Young Limousin Breeders’ Club who took part at its 2024 Rising Stars Calf Show, held in Ballymena. Picture: Alfie Shaw, Agri-Images

Catching the judge’s eye to win the senior, pedigree and supreme overall championship ribbons was the ten-month-old heifer Aghadolgan Udiva brought out by Raymond Savage, and daughter Louise Cowan, who run a 20-cow herd at Drumahoe.

Supreme overall champion Aghadolgan Udiva bred from Raymond Savage and daughter Louise Cowan. Picture: Alfie Shaw, Agri-Images

This much-admired heifer is the result of an embryo purchased by Louise at a charity auction. Donated by the Alford family from the Foxhillfarm Herd in Devon, the embryo was from Foxhillfarm Nadiya and the 22,000gns Gunnerfleet Lion.

“The overall champion is a tremendous heifer,” commented the judge. “She oozes style and breed character, and is and full of show potential. Definitely a heifer with an exciting future ahead of her.”

Judge William Smith and sponsor Craig Douglas, Whinfell Park Limousins, congratulate Raymond Savage, Louise and Willow Cowan, on winning the supreme championship with Aghadolgan Udiva shown by Allen Shortt. The reserve champion was Bambushka shown by Jack Smyth. Picture: Alfie Shaw, Agri-Images

Reserve senior and reserve pedigree champion was the ten-month-old Fortfield Una bred by Colm O’Hare from Mayobridge. She stood second in her class to the champion, and is the result of an embryo from the 5-cow herd’s privately purchased Claragh Olive and the AI sire Derrygullinane Kingbull.

William Smith added: “Another very good heifer displaying the beef attributes of the Limousin breed. She is a real cow maker!”

Leading the junior championship line-up was another embryo-bred calf, Wastelands Upandcoming from Charlotte Martin’s 6-cow herd at Dromara. This five-month-old bull is by Gunnerfleet Lion and bred from Corranhill Something Special – purchased at the Irish Limousin Society’s 50th Anniversary Sale at Carrick-on-Shannon in October 2022.

Charlotte Martin’s Wastelands Upandcoming was the junior champion at the NIYLB Calf Show, Ballymena. Picture: Alfie Shaw, Agri-Images

Runner-up for the junior championship was Frewstown Uewmoon, a six-month-old heifer calf bred by Derek Frew from Antrim. She is the result of an embryo mating from Springsett President and the Ampertaine Elgin daughter, Johnstown Rose.

“The junior winners are two lovely examples of the breed. There was very little between them, but on the day my preference was the bull calf, simply because he was slightly more forward.”

Reserve junior champion was Frewstown Uewmoon exhibited by Jason Frew. Included is sponsor Emma Murphy, Ross Farm Supplies. Picture: Alfie Shaw, Agri-Images.

Claiming the day’s commercial and reserve overall championship titles was the junior heifer Bambushka exhibited by Allen Shortt and Jack Smyth. Sired by Rocky, and bred from a British Blue cow, she was purchased at the Carrick Winter Fair in November.

Jack Smyth exhibited the commercial champion Bambushka. He was congratulated by Leanne Workman, Fane Valley, sponsor. Picture: Alfie Shaw, Agri-Images

“This heifer is well-balanced and will be a serious cow maker. I’m sure she’ll have a good summer on the show circuit,” added the judge.

The reserve commercial champion was a yearling heifer called Pop Idol from JCB Commercials. Sired by the 17,000gns Trueman Idol, she was bred from a British Blue dam.

Gareth Corrie Jnr exhibited the reserve commercial champion Pop Idol, owned by JCB Commercials. Picture: Alfie Shaw, Agri-Images

Elanor Reilly from the Rockstar Herd in County Cavan judged the young handlers’ classes at the 2024 show. She praised the high standard of showmanship and said it was encouraging to see strong classes with enthusiastic competitors.

The overall winner was intermediate competitor Oliver Taggart; while the reserve award went to senior class winner Serena Murphy.

“Both competitors were smartly dressed and very knowledgeable. They were alert in the showring and handled their animals with confidence.”

Judge Elanor Reilly congratulates champion young handler Oliver Taggart, and Serena Murphy, reserve champion. Included is NIYLB chairman Darryl Geary. Picture: Alfie Shaw, Agri-Images

Darryl Geary, chairman of the NI Young Limousin Breeders’ Club thanked the judges, spectators, exhibitors and sponsors for supporting the event. “It has been another successful show, and it’s encouraging to see so many young members getting involved. I’ve no doubt the future of the Limousin breed is in safe hands.

“I’d also like to thank our willing volunteers and Ballymena Market for the use of its excellent facilities.”