New Society President, Garrett Behan, pictured receiving the Medal Of Office from outgoing President, Tom Maloney, following the Society AGM
I wish you a sincere and warm welcome to our 2016 Review celebrating what has been a wonderful year for the Irish Simmental Cattle Society. I hope that all our members and associates will find something of interest within this edition.
Firstly it is a great privilege and honour for both myself and my family to serve as President of the Irish Simmental Cattle Society, a breed that has long been running deep in the veins of all of my family.
The Society has witnessed yet another strong year, particularly on the sales front and in the November sale I witnessed by far one of the better sales of Simmental bulls and heifers to date with a 100% clearance for bulls and 88% for heifers with an exceptionally large entry and averages well up in both sections. Bulls averaged €3500 with heifers averaging €3200.
But the big drive for Simmental bulls started mid-May with the introduction of the new BDGP scheme where the focus is on the maternal side of the national herd. Without getting too embroiled in it here, there are many of questions over the introduction of a star based system and the reliability of said stars, but it has a positive effect for Simmental cattle due to it being a strong maternal breed.
For suckler farming to be profitable, producers need to take a close look at their systems. With costs continually increasing across the board, keeping freeloaders is quite simply not an option as cows have to work to rear a weanling at 400kg-500kg at nine to 10 months with little creep. For this to happen cows simply need milk and be able to calve easy and go back in calf. A recent ICBF report shows Simmental as the most sought after bulls in the Gene Ireland programme. Taking this on board at recent sales both in Roscommon and on farm, it shows the confidence commercial farmers have in our breed.
But we can’t stop there. It is up to every breeder to work to promote our breed, to go forward and drive our breed to news levels. Keeping in mind what the customer for our bulls want; bulls to breed replacements for their herds and bulls that will mature early with both good carcass weights and grades. Breeders needs to place a strong emphasis on calving ease as if this goes too high we will limit our market to both suckler and dairy herds. I would also urge breeders to get involved in herd health screening serving in the best interests of themselves and their customers both within Ireland and for the ever increasing export market.
In the commercial rings the breed is equally strong. A big hearty thank you goes to all involved in organising these sales in Ballymote, Tullamore and Gort – your hard work is much appreciate and these sales are growing bigger and better every year.
Summer shows, both regional and national, are the biggest shop window we have to market our breed. I would encourage all breeders to get active in the promotion of both their own herd and the national herd. A big thank you to all who have support these events in the last year.
Sponsorship is another important part of each year and substantial funding isn’t received without the generous support of many companies. Without those companies, agricultural shows would cease to exist. I wish to thank and acknowledge all sponsors for their continued support.
Youth is the life and soul of the future of any society and YISA is a perfect example of this. It is great to see them travel to events, learn, work hard and be successful in events. A big thank you the Mums, Dads, big brothers and sisters for encouraging our young members and bringing them to events and lastly to Jennie for all the work behind the scenes.
To conclude I believe this breed has a great future. We must explore and develop all market places to put Irish Simmental cattle and breeders to the fore both at home and on the international stage. Furthermore I would like to thank all council members, club delegates and all members for their hard work over the last year. I would like to thank our secretariat, Peadar and Carol for their commitment, work ethic and long hours put in to help drive our breed in a difficult time in the beef industry.
On a personal note I would like to thank my fellow council members for having the confidence in electing me as President and am looking forward to working closely with every one of them over the coming year. A thank you to all those who wished me well over the days that followed, I look forward to representing our wonderful breed during my time as President.
Wishing you all a healthy, happy and prosperous 2016.
President, Irish Simmental Cattle Society.