Shorthorn show and sale this weekend

Commercial and cross-bred Beef Shorthorn cattle have been proving popular with dairy farmers. Commercial heifers pictured in Co Down.
Commercial and cross-bred Beef Shorthorn cattle have been proving popular with dairy farmers. Commercial heifers pictured in Co Down.

This weekend, the Northern Ireland Beef Shorthorn Club will hold its annual spring show and sale.

A total of 31 entries have been received by the society for the event which will take place at Ballymena Cattle Mart on Friday March 25, 2016.

“Shorthorn cattle can be a versatile addition to any herd. They are easy calving and the lean muscle offers a higher value calf than many other breeds.”

Fiona McKeown, Secretary, NI Beef Shorthorn Club

Lots are planned to include four in-calf heifers, five maiden heifers, four cows, ten bulls, five commercial females and three store bullocks.

NI Beef Shorthorn Club secretary Fiona McKeown said: “Shorthorn cattle can be a versatile addition to any herd. They are easy calving and the lean muscle offers a higher value calf than many other breeds.

“Farmers often tell us the cross-bred calves are fetching more at market.”

She explained how Newtownards dairy farmer Neil Thompson had been running a pedigree shorthorn bull on his 300 cow dairy farm.

Mr Thompson who runs the farm alongside his father Bill and mother Muriel purchased his first beef shorthorn bull in August 2013 and has since bought a second one.

He praised the bull saying it had been used to serve the herd’s commercial dairy cows to breed calves suitable for fattening.

Mr Thompson said he was receiving prices of up to £350 at six weeks of age. He said he was so impressed with how they were shaping up that he planned to take a batch of the calves through to beef.

He explained that the Shorthorn bull stood up well to working in a large dairy herd and remarked on its good temperament compared to other beef breeds he had used before.

At a time when milk prices are scraping further below cost price and calf prices turbulent, dairy farmers are increasing turning to the beef market as a means of income.

Northern Ireland Beef Shorthorn Club had recently been praised on its standards by renowned Scottish breeder and judge John Elliot.

The breed has also been acclaimed by representatives from major supermarkets including Morrisons who run its Traditional Beef scheme. The scheme offers a premium for Beef Shorthorn carcasses.

Farmers who sign up to the scheme are given the option of subsidised Beef Shorthorn stock bulls, high-genetic-merit semen or could use their own bulls.

For catalogues for this weekend’s sale contact Ballymena Mart on 028 2563 3470.