Champion honour for Portadown young handler at Balmoral Show

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The 2024 Balmoral Show beef young handler judge, John McCulloch, said the standard of competition on the final day was “hugely high”.

The trainee auctioneer chose the champion beef young handler as Matthew Cochrane from Portadown who exhibited a Charolais cross animal named ‘Gingernut’.

Speaking at the show, John commented: “It’s been fantastic and a huge privilege to be invited from Scotland over to Balmoral Show to judge the young handlers.”

“The competition in Northern Ireland compared to Scotland is similar. We have a lot of young people over in Scotland on the show scene. In Northern Ireland, there is no exception.

Trainee auctioneer John McCulloch was the beef young handler judge at this year's Balmoral Show. (Pic: Nathan Hylands)Trainee auctioneer John McCulloch was the beef young handler judge at this year's Balmoral Show. (Pic: Nathan Hylands)
Trainee auctioneer John McCulloch was the beef young handler judge at this year's Balmoral Show. (Pic: Nathan Hylands)

“It is good to see on both sides of the water, the standard is so high. Young people are so important to the future of the show circuit.

“I have taken part in my young handlers’ competitions myself. People my age are now the forefront of showing so we need those next generation of young people coming through, learning the trade showing cattle.

“The future is certainly looking bright going by the standard I have seen.”

As for what he would be looking for on the day, John stated: “I am looking for someone who dresses properly with a shirt and tie with a white coat, someone who is well presented and who presents their animal well.

The 2024 Balmoral Show beef young handler judge, John McCulloch, said the standard of competition on the final day was “hugely high”. (Pic: Nathan Hylands)The 2024 Balmoral Show beef young handler judge, John McCulloch, said the standard of competition on the final day was “hugely high”. (Pic: Nathan Hylands)
The 2024 Balmoral Show beef young handler judge, John McCulloch, said the standard of competition on the final day was “hugely high”. (Pic: Nathan Hylands)

“They need to show that animal to the best of their ability, showing that animal off, presenting all its good qualities, ensuring that animal is portrayed in its best light in the ring."

The Scottish Rural College graduate has always been immersed with farming.

“My mum and dad have been stock people of pedigree herds of Charolais, Limousin, Aberdeen Angus, and Beef Shorthorn cattle in Scotland,” he continued.

“Having shown cattle with them I learned the trade. I have worked with herds of pedigree Aberdeen Angus and Beef Shorthorn myself and I’ve worked commercially on a feedlot as well.

“I’m now a trainee auctioneer in Castle Douglas for Wallets Marts – I have gone from working with pedigree cattle to commercial cattle, and now on to auctioneering.”

John is an advocate for future generations of the industry and plays an active role in the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC).

He said: “I got involved with young farmers aged 14. I have been the chair of my club three times and chaired our national agri and rural affairs committee in Scotland.

“This has involved looking at policy issues that affect agriculture, finding out what is affecting young people and their businesses and then speaking to the government about what young people want to see from policy going forward,” he added.