Northern Ireland Simmental breeder announced as the new president of the British Simmental Cattle Society

A Simmental breeder from Northern Ireland has been announced as the new President of the British Simmental Cattle Society.

Norman Robson, from Doagh, near Ballyclare in County Antrim, was elected following the society’s recent AGM in Stirling.

Norman becomes the third member of the Robson family to serve as BSCS president, with his father Billy being president in 1985-1986, and 1999-2000; and his brother Michael holding the office between 2011-2012.

Operating as a family partnership, Kilbride Farm is a traditional mixed farm.

Norman Robson of Kilbride Farm Simmental herd, Doagh, County Antrim.Norman Robson of Kilbride Farm Simmental herd, Doagh, County Antrim.
Norman Robson of Kilbride Farm Simmental herd, Doagh, County Antrim.

The Kilbride Farm Simmental herd, now consisting of 90-100 Simmental cows, is one of the most recognisable names in the pedigree beef sector.

The herd was established in 1971 with four heifers from the first importation into Northern Ireland. From growing cereals, carrying a suckler herd and a sheep enterprise, the land-based operations consolidated into a pedigree Simmental herd only as the Robsons recognised the performance, fertility, docility and profitability that the breed was giving them.

Over the years the Kilbride Farm herd has attained seven Supreme Championships at the Perth and Stirling Sales, whilst regularly attaining five figure prices.

The majority of bulls in a typical year are sold privately off farm to buyers in the UK and Ireland. Kilbride Farm genetics have been exported to North America, Australia and New Zealand and, more recently, they have exported semen and stock back to the breed’s homeland countries of Austria and Switzerland.

Over recent years the herd has introduced the polled gene, with 70-80 per cent of the cows now carrying polled genetics whilst retaining Kilbride Farm’s traditional qualities.

Norman said: “It is a huge honour and a privilege to be elected as the 27th president of the British Simmental Cattle Society, and to be the sixth breeder from Northern Ireland to hold this office.

"With a motivated membership and council, I hope to lead a society that offers value and assistance through practical breeding tools to all breeders, and positively promotes British Simmental to every industry level.

"Over the last two years we have seen some record sale averages for the Simmental breed, some successful new fixtures, and an increase in pedigree registrations. It is very much a further aim that we can continue to build on this base and to grow the reach of the breed into all areas of the UK.”

He continued: “No other breed has the flexibility of the Simmental, from crossing on a Luing type cow on the hill, to high output lowland suckler herds, and as a crossing sire onto the dairy herd.

"As breeders if we can collectively continue to provide the genetics for a profitable, sustainable forward beef industry, I feel there is a bright future for British Simmental.”

One of Norman’s first Simmental fixtures as society president will be the second staging of the Next Generation Sale of Simmental Females and Weaned Calves at Harrison and Hetherington’s Borderway Mart, Carlisle, on Friday 2 December, where there are three Kilbride Farm entries amongst the 66 head entered.