By Julie Hazelton
DESPITE experiencing unpre-cedented challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, members of the Northern Ireland Simmental Cattle Breeders’ Club are confident that the breed continues to grow from strength-to-strength.
2021 was a challenging year in many ways for farmers, but the NI Simmental Club and its members embraced the challenge and adapted new ways of doing business, marketing and promoting the breed and their individual herds.
NI-bred cattle remain highly sought-after, and even in the midst of a global pandemic breeders have been able to utilise social media to sell pedigree livestock and embryos to customers in Great Britain, the EU and Australia.
Club members also embraced technology to attend the club’s first-ever virtual AGM.
In February a small number of breeders made the trip to the society’s premier spring sale in Stirling. Local breeders were conspicuous by their absence. Initially 32 NI-bred bulls were entered for the sale, but numbers dropped dramatically when the NI Protocol rules dictated by the EU following Brexit were implemented in January. Only two local herds made the brave decision to make the journey across to Scotland.
Val and Conrad Fegan set a new herd record of 10,000gns for the May 2019 born Knockreagh Kilroy while WH Robson and Sons sold the July 2019 Kilbride Farm Kanye for 6500gns.
March 8 marked a significant milestone in the history of the NI Simmental Club, as it celebrated the 50th anniversary of the club’s formation. Committee member Julie Wallace compiled a comprehensive report and pictures highlighting the past 50 years, which was published in the local farming Press.
The spring sale was held in Dungannon in early April. The pre-sale show wasn’t permitted due to the regulations, but there was a good entry of quality stock on offer. Sale topper at 5600gns was the 15-month-old Ashland Lad, bred by Pat and Frank Kelly. He was sold for export to telephone bidders WJ Frazer and Sons from Banffshire in Scotland.
The next best price was 4100gns, paid to the Robson family for the October 2019 Kilbride Farm Karl. This polled entry was also exported to Scotland, selling to Lachlan Quarm’s Annick Herd in Ayrshire.
Three bulls sold for 3000gns each. Two of these were bred by Nigel Glasgow of the Bridgewater Farm Herd with the other coming from William and Keith Stubbs’ Rehall Herd. A small female entry topped at 1900gns for Jonathan Henderson’s Drumsamney Caramel.
Two heifers sold to average £1,890, and six bulls sold to level at £3,623, representing an increase of £863 on the 2019 sale.
In May, Lisglass Kirk, bred by Leslie and Christopher Weatherup, sold for £25,000, setting a new record for a Simmental bull bred in Northern Ireland.
The 20-month-old Mullyknock Gal-lant son sold to the Simmers family from Backmuir Farm, Banffshire in Scotland.
Ballymena Mart hosted the club’s annual sale in mid-May. There was a small entry, but following a 90 per cent clearance the auctioneers confirmed that five bulls averaged £2,505, and four females sold to level at £1,822.
Prices peaked at 2650gns, paid to Nigel Glasgow for the Samark Superman son Bridgewater Farm Kentucky. Mr Glasgow also realised 2500gns for Bridgewater Farm Kasper. Females topped at 1840gns, paid to Alan and Ann Kennedy, Ballinderry, for the maiden heifer Lurgill Kim.
The British Simmental Society’s Virtual Show sparked considerable online interest during the summer, with local breeders featuring strongly and dominating several of the classes.
The NI Simmental Club also hosted its first-ever Simmental Virtual Show. The competition was well-supported, with more than 200 entries competing across nine classes. Thanks to the judges who gave up their time to place the entries, and congratulations to everyone who photographed their cattle and took part.
In August the Robson family’s noted Kilbride Farm prefix hosted a timed online female sale to mark the herd’s Golden Anniversary. Featuring yearling and in-calf heifers from its most prolific cow families, the sale attracted bidders from as far afield as Australia, Germany, Ireland and Scotland. Prices peaked at 6000gns for the polled yearling heifer Kilbride Farm Eunice 314L, and resulted in 15 heifers averaging £4,886 each.
A very different Balmoral Show took place in September. Unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, there was a much smaller entry of Simmental cattle and fewer spectators around the showring. Judge Robin Boyd, Slievenagh Herd, awarded the supreme championship to the senior bull Hiltonstown Indiana owned by pedigree and commercial herd owner James McKane from Ballymena. Claiming the female and reserve supreme awards was the January 2020 heifer Drumsamney Lady Jane, bred by Jonathan Henderson.
October proved to be a very busy month for Simmental breeders, starting off with the autumn sale in Stirling. Again, only a small number of members made the trip across the Irish Sea. Leading the Northern Ireland line-up at 9000gns was the first prize Ballymoney Larry bred by Noel and Mae Kilpatrick. This March 2020 entry was the first son to sell from the herd’s 14,000gns stock bull, Saltire Impressive. Next best at 8000gns was the March 2020 Hiltonstown Lorenzo bred by Richard and Rhys Rodgers. David and Jonny Hazelton sold the April 2020 Ranfurly Leader for 7000gns.
The highlight of the year for many was the club’s 50th anniversary Simmental Spectacular, held at Dungannon.
There was standing room only, with the event attracting strong interest from pedigree and commercial bidders. Scottish judge Stewart Stronach commented on the high standard of entries in all classes.
Topping trade at 5400gns was the female champion Ranfurly Weikel 40th L10, an April 2020 Samark Superman daughter bred by David and Jonny Hazelton.
The Hazelton duo also realised 4900gns for the reserve female champion Ranfurly Weikel 39th, a February 2020 heifer by Curaheen Bandit.
Next best at 4700gns was the 11-month-old Omorga Lorelle, a Curaheen Drifter daughter bred by Harry and John Moore. The April 2020 Cladymore Lovely ET sold at 4600gns for the Reaney family from Markethill.
Sale averages: 18 heifers £2,960; five bulls £2,541; Omorga draft six heifers £3,517; and Ballymoney draft five heifers £2,289.
The sale’s commercial section was topped at £2,750 by the 10-month-old heifer Miss Crumble, consigned by Alan Burleigh.
The club is indebted to the numerous local businesses who advertised in the sale catalogue.
In November the club joined forces with the Blonde, British Blue and Salers clubs to host the inaugural Four Breed Calf Show at Dungannon.
It was very successful and will hopefully become an annual event. The show attracted over 40 entries, and was judged by society vice-president Norman Robson, who praised the quality of entries in each class.
It was also encouraging to see a number of new breeders participating.
Senior champion was the 14-month-old heifer Ashland Topaz Lopez, a Saltire Impressive daughter, bred by Pat and Frank Kelly.
Lifting the reserve senior title was the 14-month-old Islavle Frontier son Lisglass Leo bred by Leslie and Christopher Weatherup.
The junior championship went to the 10-month-old Saltire Impressive son Ballymoney Martin, exhibited by Noel and Mae Kilpatrick. Taking the reserve award was the January-born polled heifer Rehall Moneypenny from William and Keith Stubbs.
In early December the Moore family’s Omorga prefix hit the headlines, winning the supreme championship and topping the society’s Next Generation Sale at Carlisle.
The January-born Omorga Murphy sold for 16,000gns, and three Omorga bulls averaged £8,295.
Rounding off 2021 was the Found-ation Female Sale in Omagh, organised by the Corrick, Derryharney and Mullyknock herds. Trade peaked at 10,000gns, paid to the McILwaine family for the two-year-old heifer Corrick Khloe.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.