Balmoral Show: Shorthorns back in business with inter-breed title

Michelle McCauley with her first prize-winning Irish Moiled  is congratulated by Keith Thompson from Ulster Bank
Michelle McCauley with her first prize-winning Irish Moiled is congratulated by Keith Thompson from Ulster Bank

Beef Shorthorn cattle had become almost an endangered species in Northern Ireland.

But that all changed on Thursday at Balmoral Show with the selection of Lowtown Ireland as the Beef Inter-Breed champion.

The two-year-old Beef Shorthorn bull was bred by Dungannon farmer Dominic Dorman.

Noted more as a breeder of British Blonde cattle, Mr Dorman has only two Shorthorn cows.

“This is my first Balmoral inter-breed title,” he said.

“The interest in Shorthorn cattle goes back to my mother, who had a real love for the breed. The bull’s sire hails from the Carrorock herd in Co Galway.”

Ireland competed in a young bull class at Balmoral last year, but did not overly impress.

“However, he went on to win the Shorthorn Championship at six local shows last summer,” Mr Dorman explained.

“But it was only when I cleaned him up at the end of last winter that I realised his full potential.”

The initial plan for the bull is to draw semen from him over the coming months.

“After that we will see what happens,” Mr Dorman added.

“If someone writes me a big enough cheque then he’s for sale.”

The Inter-Breed reserve was the more than impressive Charolais cow, Wesley Glamorous, exhibited by the Connolly family from Co Down.

She was shown with her calf at foot – Brigadoon Lancelot, sired by the Connolly’s stock bull, Royal Capital.

“Glamorous has proven that she can produce one calf per year,” said Albert Connolly.

“This is a fundamental requirement of every suckler cow. Lancelot is her second calf, born five weeks ago. The fact that Glamorous can win her breed title and then fare so well against the other breeds is testimony to her beefing qualities. Our aim is to breed from her for as long as possible.”

Day two of Balmoral Show saw the spotlight placed on the business performance of the food and farming sectors.

Farm Minister Michelle O’Neill said that in the last year alone, beef and pork exports have gained access to additional markets in the Middle East, India, Thailand and across Africa.

“I am hopeful that 2015 will prove even more exciting in terms of furthering new market access across all meat sectors. My officials have been working closely with our beef and lamb processors to make preparations for an eagerly awaited approval inspection by US officials which I hope will take place later this year.”

The minister reiterated her belief that co-operation across industry throughout the island is key to supporting exports.

“We continue to make great strides in securing entry into new markets but maintaining that access is also vitally important. Our ability to trade must be supported by all links in the supply and marketing chain,” she said.

“This means that industry takes the lead in identifying its priorities, government supports within its available resources, and politicians, like me, play our part diplomatically so that we work together for the good of the sector and the local economy.

“As part of this process, my department is also working to overcome barriers to trade associated with certification, labelling and animal health and welfare.”