Northern Ireland cattle enthusiast Martin Donaghy, of Dungannon, County Tyrone has been elected chairman of the British Charolais Cattle Society’s council of management. He succeeds Iain Millar, of Port of Menteith, Stirling who is stepping down after completing his two year term of office.
Iain Millar (right) hands over to newly elected BCCS chairman, Martin Donaghy
“The British Charolais Cattle Society continues to be well positioned to face the future; it is financially sound and the breed is enjoying a renaissance within its 48th year in Britain; both registrations and membership are up on the year along with the establishment of 95 new herds,” Iain told the annual general meeting in Ingliston on Thursday 24 June. “A total of 746 bulls were traded at official society sales, a figure up more than 10% on the year, and they sold to average £4,689, up 38% during the same period. On the export front, interest for British Charolais is gaining momentum, we have traded semen and embryos across the globe, together with the first consignment of sexed semen to Norway and we are currently fulfilling orders for embryos from France and Norway.
“However the society’s most significant progress for the year has been made with Breeedplan performance recording and we have agreed to become more proactive when it comes to herd health,” he explained. “We are taking a lead within the pedigree beef sector by insisting that all Charolais cattle sold at official society sales from January 2011 either come from a BVD accredited herd or they are tested clear of the BVD virus prior to the sale. In addition, all cattle must be vaccinated as a condition before entering a society sale. With a BVD outbreak in a 100 cow suckler herd estimated to cost £40,000, the decision makes sound financial common sense.”
“As far as genetic improvement is concerned, then breeders are continuing to make huge strides thanks to Breedplan technology, the society’s combined registration and genetic evaluation system service provider,” said Iain. “For example, the Calving Ease Direct trait which reflects the direct effect bulls have on the ease with which their calves are born, has improved by 1% during the last two years, while weight traits have consistently continued to increase since 2000, by an average 6kg for 200 day weight and 8kg for 400 day weight.”
Greater focus on Breedplan technology is among Martin Donaghy’s objectives. “During my term of office I’ll be continuing to drive that progress. I will be encouraging all breeders to use Breedplan, the most accurate scientific selection tool we have, to identify the strengths and weaknesses of bloodlines within their own herds, as well as provide an invaluable marketing tool within the commercial marketplace. We must all breed bulls which commercial producers are able to buy with confidence leaving easily calved progeny without sacrificing performance,” he explains.
Martin, a farmer’s son and a partner in a Dungannon based law firm, has had a long term interest in pedigree Charolais cattle and established his Crannon pedigree Charolais herd 15 years ago. “I have a great passion for Charolais which is the undisputable leading terminal beef sire leaving efficient high performance calves that meet a consistent insatiable demand from finishers.
“I am also looking forward to having an active involvement in planning the World Charolais Congress in 2012 which is being hosted by BCCS and also coincides with the society’s Golden Jubilee. The event will provide a great opportunity to showcase the breed not only to the UK beef sector, but also to Charolais breeders worldwide.”
Newly elected BCCS president, Jimmy Wilson
Alasdair Houston, Gretnahouse Farm, Gretna Green is the society’s newly elected vice chairman, and Jimmy Wilson, Mintlaw, Peterhead is the new president.
Jimmy has had an involvement breeding pedigree Charolais cattle for more than 25 years since he established his Ugie pedigree herd which totals 50 breeding cows and followers, and has produced a number of successful cattle at breed society official shows and sales including the 24,000gns Perth champion, Ugie Legend. His 300 acre grassland unit also carries 300 cross store cattle, of which the vast majority are Charolais crosses simply because they offer the ‘best return’, he says.
A former BCCS chairman, Jimmy explains: “British Charolais has a tremendous future being supported by Breedplan, which I too intend to promote to all breeders to take up, together with accuracy of recording, or else their actions will come back to haunt them.” He adds: “When I was elected as chairman five years ago, one of my tasks was to help roll out Breedplan, which I have to admit I was slightly apprehensive about. Since then, I have come to understand its benefits within my own herd, the fact the data does actually reflect each animal’s true genetic potential and it is an essential selection tool for both breeders and commercial farmers alike. For example my current stock bull, Goldies Banker is a trait leader for growth performance and his Calving Ease Direct EBV is within the breed’s top 70%; he is leaving some of the highest performing calves, and equally important, potential calving issues are a thing of the past.”
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