Ireland trip of the BDAH from 23rd - 29th August 2019

With 45 participants the Bundesverband Deutscher Angus-Halter (German Angus Association) went to Ireland to get to know the green island, the agricultural Angus farms and of course the state of Angus cattle breeding in Ireland. First of all: Due to the high rainfall (1200 mm/sqm and more), the mild climate and the soil quality, the lush dark green shimmering dense grass leaves nothing to be desired for the Irish Angus. A feast for the eyes of our Angus keepers who often have to struggle with dryness. The increase of ragwort, which is poisonous for horses and cattle, on extensive pastures in Ireland is frightening. Acre by acre agricultural use is being abandoned and succession is spreading. The lesson we should learn from this is: "Resist the beginnings".

Our first day in Ireland was dedicated to the Iverk Show in Piltown, which was founded in 1826 and is the oldest agricultural show in Ireland. As part of this show the Irish Angus Cattle Society organised the Aldi Irish Angus All Ireland Bull Calf Championships 2019.

From 12 regional shows held over the summer, the best 72 young bulls qualified for this final, supplemented by classes of young cattle and cows. The Irish young breeders are also fully involved. Well-prepared, styled and well-leadable animals could be seen. The main sponsor, listen and be amazed, is the supermarket chain Aldi. The background for this is a special Angus label product made from heifers and steers of crossbreeds Angus x dairy cattle, which is marketed very well via the Aldi branches.

Our travel group was warmly welcomed and quickly first contacts to the exhibiting breeders were established. The winning animals could impress with a large frame, long middle hand, correct foundations, a lot of meat and with cow weights up to 1,000 kg. Maybe a bit too big for German conditions.

We could deepen our first impressions at a dinner together with the Irish breeders. The chairman of the Irish Angus Cattle Society John O`Sullivan welcomed our group warmly and were presented with an honourable gift.

In Ireland there are 2 breeding associations with separate herd books, which care about the Irish Angus breeding. The Irish Angus Cattle Society, founded in 1967 with about 1,000 members and the much smaller Irish Aberdeen-Angus Association, which is part of the Scottish Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society.

From a macroeconomic perspective, the Irish agricultural and food sector is ranked first with a turnover of approximately 26 billion Euro. 8.4% of the workforce work here. The most important source of revenue is cattle production, which accounts for about 30% of the gross agricultural output (figures from 2015).

The beef cattle farming, with around 950,000 suckler cows at nearly 1.5 million dairy cows, is of great economic importance in Ireland, with around 90% of beef produced being exported. Ireland, which is small in terms of area and population, is thus the fifth largest beef exporter worldwide. The main customer is continental Europe, first and foremost the United Kingdom. With an average herd size of between 10 and 20 Angus dams/farm, many Irish farms operate on a part-time basis. Without EU subsidies, it would not be possible to cover costs in Ireland either. This is one of the reasons why Ireland will remain in the EU and does not want to establish a new customs border with Northern Ireland. The vast majority of Irish people refuse the current Brexit policy of the British Government.

With a good 10,000 registered Angus herdbook cattle, Ireland is comparable to Germany. A large part of the male breeding animals produced are used for crossbreeding in dairy herds. The heifer and ox crosses produced in this way are fattened with the best Irish pasture grass and can also be found on German supermarket shelves after slaughter.

Thanks to the organisation of the former president of the Irish Angus Association, John Appelbe, we were able to visit a total of 7 Angus breeding farms.

  • the Fellfort Angus herd of Ben and Elaine Ryall with 80 suckler cows,
  • the 40-cow Carrigroe herd of John Appelbe,
  • the small but fine Carker-Scart herd of Michael and Sean Cronin,
  • the Lemonfield herd of approx. 80 of Donogh McCarty in Limerick,
  • the newly founded Dunard Angus herd of Paul Mathew as well as
  • a red Angus herd by John Lanigan from Tipperary and finally
  • the impressive 80 Angus cattle Cairnmor herd of David Holland in Portlaoise.

Excellent animals could be seen in all farms visited. The pure Irish black lines are also of interest for German breeding, so that in summary, once the veterinary hurdles have been overcome, up to 15 animals will travel to Germany and enrich the variety of lines in German breeding herds.

In review, we would like to thank the Irish Angus breeders for the very warm welcome, hospitality, good Irish whiskey and friendly conversations. We were very excited about the green island and the development of Angus breeding in Ireland and are looking forward to seeing you again next July in Germany at the European Angus Forum.

Manfred Winhart
Vice Chairman

Translated with (free version)