Traditional breeding key to success

Matthew Crellis and James McDowell from Castlereagh.
Matthew Crellis and James McDowell from Castlereagh.
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Beef Shorthorn breeders from across Northern Ireland gathered in Newtownards this weekend to pick up a few tips from 2014 herd competition winner Duncan McDowell.

Duncan McDowell formed his herd Castlemount Shorthorns, eight years ago with two females and has since built up to over 30 cows plus followers. His herd has gone from strength to strength, with a top price at Carlisle of 4,800gns and championship entries at the last three shows he entered.

Richard McKeown and Duncan McDowell of Castlemount Shorthorns

Richard McKeown and Duncan McDowell of Castlemount Shorthorns

The herd’s success includes titles such as Castlewellan Champion Young Bull, Clogher Valley Champion, a double victory at Antrim Show where the herd clinched both Champion and Reserve Interbreed Champion, as well as two second places at the Royal Highland Show for two-year-old bull and female in milk or in calf born on or before 31st December 2012.

Duncan McDowell said he was “very pleased” to have won the award and thanked his herd manager Richard McKeown and for his hard work with the cattle, as well as those who travelled to attend the open day.

NI Shorthorn Club vice-chairman Tom McGuigan, explained that Mr McDowell was highly regarded for his traditional breeding style. He said: “The standard here is always high; Duncan has kept the best of the traditional traits in his cattle. He has bred towards traits the breed is traditionally known for such as longevity and docility, as well as ease of calving.”

The herd competition which was judged last year by the highly-regarded Irish breeder Anthony Dockery boasts the honour of hosting the next Northern Ireland Shorthorn Society annual open day.

The previous year’s winner, James Porter from Lisburn went on to win the hotly contested Mohmar Trophy, a national competition awarded to the exhibitor with the most points from shows held across the UK. Not far behind, Mr McDowell’s Castlemount Herd came in at third place, an achievement the club is proud to highlight.