Funding of €250,000 will be put towards the creation of a new competition class at Irish agricultural shows for beef breeding heifers.

The multi-year investment was announced today (Wednesday, May 18) by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue.

Over next five years, €250,000 will be invested in the agricultural show sector with the rolling out of the new class, which will be administered by the Irish Shows Association (ISA).

The ‘Breeder’s Choice’ class will be open to four- and five-star breeding heifers in two separate categories – traditional breeds and continental breeds.

Pedigree as well as commercial heifers are eligible for the categories. Over the course of the summer, some 60 shows will benefit from the new class, the minister said.

He added that the requirement for four- and five-star in-calf or maiden heifers aligns to the aims of the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) and the incoming Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCBP) in the next Common Agricultural Policy to increase the number of these heifers in the suckler herd.

Commenting on the major investment in the show sector, Minister McConalogue said: “The show network is the backbone of so many agri and rural communities.

“The show season is upon us and the excitement of getting an animal ready for your local show is hard bet. What is even more exciting is taking home a yellow, red or blue rosette. These are the marks of what makes a good animal a great animal.

“I’m delighted to work with the Irish Shows Association on this exciting, multi-year and long-term investment. This is a commitment from me and my Department to the Shows sector, to the quality of breeding cattle and to rural Ireland as a whole,” the minister added.

Jim Harrison, secretary of the ISA, welcomed the announcement by the minister.

He said: “We are delighted to have partnered with the Minister and the Department on this exciting new initiative which will see a major investment made in our network of shows.

“It gives farmers, breeders and handlers great confidence in the show circuit going forward with this initial five-year investment in the Breeder’s Choice class.

“I now urge all farmers and handlers to get their quality four and five-star heifers out and into their local show this summer to avail of this exciting new showing class,” Harrison added.

The rules and conditions of the new class are as follows:

  • The competition will be run at every show that has cattle classes;
  • This competition is open to all Continental/Traditional genotype four-star or five-star heifers;
  • Heifers may be in-calf or maiden;
  • All heifers must be between 12 months and 24-months-of-age on the date of the show;
  • Each heifer can attend up to five shows;
  • If a heifer enters more than five shows, she will automatically be disqualified;
  • All heifers must be haltered-trained and led by a competent adult;
  • The foregoing rules should be read in conjunction with ISA general rules.