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NI Simmentals Take World Stage at Omagh
20/06/08

In excess of 300 exhibitors, spectators and sponsors joined delegates of the 17th World Simmental Congress, at this week’s World Congress Show, hosted by the NI Simmental Cattle Breeders’ Club at Omagh Showgrounds.

Neil McIlwaine, Newtownstewart, exhibited Corrick Vena Diana, the best junior heifer at the World Congress Show

Corrick Vena Diana

Delegates from throughout the world, representatives of the British Simmental Cattle Society, and a large contingent of southern breeders attended the two-day pre-congress tour which kicked off with a visit to the 60-cow Kilbride Farm Herd owned by the Robson family at Doagh, Ballyclare. Delegates then travelled to the North Antrim coast, stopping off at the world-famous Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, before attending a dinner in the Royal Court Hotel, Portrush.

On Tuesday morning the delegates travelled to Rathfriland in County Down to visit the Ballinlare Farm Herd, owned by the Joe Wilson and family. From there it was off to Omagh for a reception with the chairman and officials from Omagh District Council.

The delegates represented Simmental organisations from throughout the world, and included, Dan Evans, president of the British Simmental Cattle Society; Helen Ellis, president of the New Zealand Simmental Society; Australian president, Bill Speers; Canada’s immediate past president, Bruce Holmquist,; and Irish Simmental Society president, Bertie Houston from County Donegal. The event also attracted a large number of pedigree breeders from some of the Province’s other beef breed clubs.

Rain failed to dampen the spirits of everyone attending the Congress Show. There was a sea of umbrellas around the judging ring, as exhibitors braved the heavy showers to parade almost 80 cattle in front of judge, David Lowry, from Lanarkshire in Scotland.

Mr Lowry, and his wife, Joy, moved from County Down to Scotland eight years ago. He said:”We are delighted to be welcomed back to judge the World Congress Show. It is a very prestigious event in the club’s history.”

There were 12 classes comprising of senior and junior bulls, senior and junior cows, senior, intermediate and junior heifers, as well as four calf classes, and a class for the best pair of animals, owned by one exhibitor. There was £150 prize money up for grabs in each class, with exhibitors receiving souvenir rosettes specially designed to mark the occasion. The first prize winner in each class also received a commemorative engraved crystal bowl.

County Fermanagh breeders certainly made their presence felt, securing eight out of the 12 top placings at the show.

The senior bull class was won by Omorga Regan, a four-year-old stock bull brought out by Kenneth Stubbs and family, owners of the Drumbulcan herd at Irvinestown.

In the junior bull section, first prize went to the home-bred Ashland Vagabond, a March 2007 born entry from the father and son team of Pat and Frank Kelly, Tempo. Sired by the 15,000gns. Omorga Prince, he won the male championship award at Balmoral Show in May.

NI Club chairman, and British Simmental Cattle Society council representative, Robert Forde, from Tempo, won the award for the best senior cow. The winning entry was the home-bred five-year-old cow, Mullyknock Princess, shown with her February born bull calf at foot. She is no stranger to success, having taken the breed’s supreme championship honours at Balmoral Show.

Wesley Abraham from Irvinestown, won the junior cow class with the October 2005 born Raceview Stella Matilda – female of the year in 2007. Joined by the 2008 Ballymoney Show interbreed beef champion, Dripsey Twilight Princess Kim, the duo collected the prize for the best pair of animals owned by exhibitor.

In the senior heifer class the February 2006 born Millbrook Thelma, claimed top honours for John and Liz Henderson, Strabane. They also savoured success in the baby bull calf class with the home-bred five-month-old Burndennett Wringer.

Kenneth Veitch from Lisbellaw secured first prize rosettes in two of the classes. The September 2006 born Broomfield Treasure won the intermediate heifer class, while the five-month-old Drumlone Wisteria was adjudged as the best baby heifer calf.

The home-bred Corrick Vena Diana, shown by NI Simmental Club vice-chairman, Cecil McIlwaine, and sons, Scott and Neil, from Newtownstewart, stood first in the junior heifer class.

The Nelson family, William, Margaret and Keith from Rosslea, County Fermanagh, collected first prize in the bull calf class with the September 2007 born Drumacritten Viceroy.

The Ranfurly Herd, owned by David Hazelton, Dungannon, produced the first prize winner in the heifer calf class. The November 2007 born Ranfurly Weikel 2nd was sired by the German sire, Balist, and is an ET calf bred from the herd’s prize winning cow, South Park King Kong Weikel – reserve female of the year 2003, 2004 and 2005.

David Lowry said:”It has been a tremendous event. Exhibitors have worked hard to put on an outstanding show of quality cattle. Competition was strong in the majority of the classes. The top placed animals in each class could easily compete at any of the UK’s major shows.

“The females were especially good, and this bodes well for the future of the Simmental breed in Northern Ireland. Both Joy and myself would like to thank the club for its kind invitation and superb hospitality.”

The winners of the young handlers competition, who were selected by Mrs Joy Lowry, were Mark McConnell from Ballyclare, and Jamie Boyd from Portglenone.

Christies Direct, Ballymoney, donated a leather head collar and a show stick as prizes in the free draw for exhibitors at the show. The winner of the head collar was Robin Boyd, Portglenone; while Barry Chambers, Portadown, receives a new show stick.

Robert Forde, chairman, NI Simmental Cattle Breeders’ Club said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the pre-congress tour. It has been a great honour as club chairman to welcome the world delegates to Northern Ireland. I’m really pleased that the society included us in its busy itinerary for the 17th World Congress.

He added: “A lot of hard work and effort was put into organising the pre-congress tour. I’d like to thank the committee, sponsors, host farmers, and all the breeders who put on a tremendous show of cattle at Omagh. Thanks also to everyone who came along to support the farm visits, the show, and the BBQ. A special word of thanks to the Robson and Wilson families for their terrific hospitality – it will be a hard act to follow!”

“Many of the delegates commented on the quality of the Simmental cattle on display at both farms, and at the show. Perhaps there will be an opening for NI-bred genetics on the world export market in the not too distant future.”

Following the Congress Show, everyone enjoyed a tour of the Ulster American Folk Park, and a BBQ which was staged at the award-winning venue.

The 17th World Simmental Congress official opening ceremony took place at the Royal Highland Show, Edinburgh on Thursday (June 19). The 2008 event will draw to close on June 28, following a visit to the Sterling Herd hosted by Stephen Hitchins at Boddington Estates in Cheltenham.

The 18th World Simmental Congress will place in Australia in 2010.

THE Northern Ireland Simmental Cattle Breeders’ Club would like to thank the sponsors of the 17th World Simmental Congress. They include: Northern Bank, Agri-Images; ABQ Electrical; Ulster Bank; L A Richardson and Son; Pepper (Dromore) Ltd; Three Valleys Veterinary Group, Fivemiletown; Dromore Glass and Glazing; C M Animal Health; John Thompson and Sons Ltd; Woodcraft Kitchens, Kilrea; T J Booth and Sons Ltd; A N Irwin and Sons; Genus ABS; British Simmental Cattle Society; AI Services (NI) Ltd; Corby Rock; Ulster Livestock Care; Pfizer; Clare Veterinary Group; Tyrone Farming Society; Merial Animal Health; Christies Direct.

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