A LITTLE over a year ago a young Limousin breeder from County Londonderry set out to compete at his very first “major” hoping to make an impression among the other Young Handlers he came up against.
Twelve months later, that same young breeder has done more than just make an impression — he has risen head and shoulders above the competition, scooping the top prize in not one but three major competitions!
Thirteen-year-old Kile Diamond, from Garvagh, began his winning streak last July when he was named Champion Young Beef Handler at the Great Yorkshire Show.
This was followed up by further success on home soil when he won the Champion Young Beef Handler title at the Balmoral Show in May, before completing his hat-trick with another win at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh as the Overall Beef Young Handler 2018.
Sandwiched in between these successes were further accolades in the form of a Special Award for Commendation as a Young Farmer at the Danske Bank Awards last October and being named in November as the recipient of the NI Limousin Cattle Club’s Victor Woods Memorial Trophy which recognises a young breeder who has excelled that year.
It has certainly been a busy year for the St Patrick’s College (Maghera) pupil, who helps his father, Michael, run their pedigree Pointhouse Limousin herd on the family farm near Coleraine, alongside his mum Briege and older brother Brad.
However, whilst now being able to boast an extensive trophy cabinet, Kile has kept his feet firmly on the ground after his skills were most recently put to the test at the Royal Highland Show.
After sailing to victory in the junior section, Kile went up head-to-head with the senior victor. All went well until the judge, feeling that Kile was handling his animal with too much ease, asked the competitors to switch animals.
Almost immediately Kile’s new animal was spooked, however, by remaining calm Kile managed to bring the animal back under control, much to the admiration of class judge Laura Green.
“I felt Kile was handling his animal with too much ease, so I thought I would mix it up a little. Due to his quick thinking and obvious knowledge of cattle handling, he mastered the animal well and then smoothly continued on with the competition. He was a pleasure to judge and it was a delight to watch his skills in action,” she said, explaining why she had chosen Kile as her overall champion.
Understandably, Kile’s family are extremely proud of everything he has achieved.
“The Highland Show would be one of the majors so it was a different experience being at it, it was more nerve-wrecking to watch but competing there has been Kile’s biggest achievement by far,” his mum, Briege, told FarmWeek.
Explaining that Kile is no stranger to the show ring, she says he has been out “every week this summer” showing commercial cattle at the local shows.
“At home here on the farm he trains with our Limousin herd but because we can’t always bring our own animals to the shows he would show for other breeders,” she explains. “At the Highland Show he had the lend of a British Blue and at Balmoral and Yorkshire he had a Limousin.
“It was his first time competing at Balmoral in the Young Handlers because he’d only just come of age for it. He had been chomping at the bit to get to it.
“Showing the different breeds means that he has had a lot of experience with various animals and the different temperaments so he’s been well prepared,” she adds.
Although only 13, she says Kile is sure of the career path he wants to take when he finishes school.
“He loves helping round the farm, helping out with the feeding and maintenance, but his big thing is the research into the blood lines.
“He likes to know which ones work well and which he’d like to introduce to our herd in the future. We pretty much give him free rein on it because he knows what he’s talking about.
“It’s been great in helping him learn about the quality of stock and seeing which genes come through, he sees the whole process right through from the start to the calves being born. He loves to see them arrive to see how his predictions have worked out!”
Continuing, she says: “Iain Kerr, chief executive of the British Limousin Society, calls him a “walking Limousin encyclopedia” because there’s nothing about the breed he doesn’t know.
“It’s his passion in life and it’s all he wants to be at, he’s not interested in football or computers, everything is about the farm and the Limousins. All he has ever wanted to do is breed cattle – he had a halter in his hand before he could walk!”
She says he’s keen to follow in his father’s footsteps and go into farming once he has left school.
“He says he wants to be an auctioneer and a full-time breeder. He would like to diversify eventually but for now he just has to work with what we have so that means sticking to the Limousin breed and the flock of commercial sheep we keep, it’s enough to do him for now.”
Asked what Kile makes of all his success, Briege says he has kept his feet “firmly on the ground”.
“This past year or year and a half he has just shone but we’ve kept his feet on the ground, he doesn’t get too carried away with himself. He’s always looking to the next one (show) round the corner – and it’s not as though he wins everything he goes to but he doesn’t mind if he has a loss because at the end it’s still been a day out with cattle for him and that’s the main thing,” she adds.