Encouraged by his grandfather Cecil, Matthew Graham, from Dundonald, started the Glenvale Herd of Beef Shorthorns two years ago, with three foundation Beef Shorthorns bought from the Croobview Herd.
He has gone on from strength to strength in the last two years increasing by three heifers, two bought in from the Uppermill Herd, and a top price in-calf heifer bought at Balmoral Bull Sales.
The opportunity at just 11 years of age to look after and show cattle has given Matthew terrific experience, confidence, strength and of course new friends.
Matthew first entered Ballymena show in 2013 having fully trained his heifer Croobview Georgina and was delighted to be awarded third in her class and also to be awarded Champion young handler on the same day. The Judge remarked that Matthew never put a foot wrong and kept his eye on the judge at all times.
Matthew has gone on to win numerous awards and puts his trophies and rosettes in pride of place. As with any competition, the thrill of winning is a definite reward.
Matthew would admit that he feels that showing is in his blood coming from a long line of inspirational relatives namely the Connolly family famous for their Brigadoon Herd of Charolais cattle.
He would like to point out that the highlight of his showing career so far was entering the Balmoral young handler competition and was delighted to have been placed third. Matthew was judged on grooming and presentation of his animal, showmanship and handling ability and general knowledge on animal husbandry.
Beef Shorthorns like all other native breeds are making a big comeback. Matthew remarks on how colourful and attractive the cattle are to look at and cheap to keep and manage.
The mothers are docile and nice animals to work with, providing plenty of milk for their calves.
At this point Cecil and Matthew would like to thank the Armour family from Dromara for all their encouragment and help, clipping and preparing the animals for shows.
Matthew has achieved a lot in a short space of time and is looking forward to the NI Beef Shorthorn Club show and sale in Ballymena mart on October 23 where he is entering two beef shorthorns for sale. This will be the first time that Glenvale herd have offered any of their stock for sale.
Matthew is keen to show Glenvale Jock, having won Best Bull Calf in the NI Beef Shorthorn clubs Herd competition, at the Beef Expo Calf show in Balmoral on November 14 and the NI Beef Shorthorn Club Calf Show in Ballymena Mart on December 5.
Matthew comments that shows are an ideal shop window for breeders to see the stock and will hopefully lead to sales.