Judge praises standard of NI Shorthorns

Concentration: a young handler focuses on the judge.
Concentration: a young handler focuses on the judge.

Renowned Scottish beef breeder and master judge John Elliot praised the quality of cattle at the Northern Ireland beef Shorthorn calf show.

The show, which was held at Ballymena Cattle market this month, saw 36 cattle from across the province battle it out for the title of overall champion.

Young handler Matthew McLucas who won one of the calf classes

Young handler Matthew McLucas who won one of the calf classes

Judge John Elliot said he was impressed by what he saw.

He said: “The standard here has been terrific. If you travel anywhere you won’t see any higher quality of calves.”

The judge, who runs a 300 head beef operation at his home in Kelso, said he was looking for a modern shorthorn.

He explained: “I was looking for something with good fleshing, excellent muscle and correct in feet and legs.

“The first places and the champion all ticked those boxes; the champion was exemplary.

“I’m looking for normal muscle to them, the modern ones have less waste but they still have to have fleshing ability; good sized cattle that will produce quick growing and will give good gain.”

William and Jill McAllister’s Burnside Judge took the top accolade of overall champion.

The seven-month-old bull won his class beating overall reserve Castlemount Foxglove Flake in both the overall championship and the calf championship.

Giving his reasons for the placing, Mr Elliot said Burnside Judge had “more muscle, good footing and length”, but said that both were a credit to the breed.

“At the moment he’s going to make one hell of an animal,” he said.

The McAllister family first hit headlines three years ago when Burnside Elite sold for top price 8,500gns to Scottish Beef Shorthorn breeder, John Thomson in Stirling.

The pair from Kells keep just a handful of Shorthorn cattle alongside a herd over 100 pedigree and commercial beef stock and a flock of 300 ewes.

However, quality not quantity is the aim of the game, and the couple were not left disappointed when they scooped the show’s top award.

Other entry Burnside Jewel also topped her class. Already, the 11-month-old has had a successful showing season; the young heifer won the Junior Beef Shorthorn championship at the hotly contended Northern Ireland Pedigree Calf Fair Beef Expo.

Five month old Duncan McDowell’s Castlemount Foxglove Flake was named overall reserve champion.

Speaking about the heifer, Mr Elliot said she was “really something special” before he went on adding: “she’s quite contented, moved well, good fleshing, and overall a really very attractive heifer.”

W & K Carson’s Mainevalley Hoola was named Yearling Champion and Alwyn and Adam Armour’s Castlemount Zulu Tessa was named reserve.

The club would like to thank sponsors Beef Shorthorn Cattle Society, Chestnut Animal Feeds, Richard McKeown Cattle Grooming and Wilsons Auctions for their support.