School finalists announced for first Northern Angus Challenge

The finalists of a competition in which young people compete to rear calves and win the profits have been announced.

The ABP Angus Youth Challenge has run successfully in the Republic of Ireland for several years, but this year marks the first time a version of the competition has run in Northern Ireland.

The teams going through to the final stage of the ABP Angus Youth Challenge are:
  • Belfast Royal Academy;
  • Enniskillen Royal Grammar;
  • Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt;
  • St. Louis Grammar School, Ballymena.

Each group will receive five Angus-cross calves at a prize-giving ceremony on May 18 at Balmoral Show.

They will take part in a programme with ABP that will see them developing skills and knowledge across the beef supply chain.

At the end of the competition, the calves will be sold back to ABP with the net profit shared out among the group.

George Mullan speaking to schools taking part in the Angus Youth Challenge

Congratulating the finalists at their training day in ABP Newry, George Mullan, managing director of ABP in Northern Ireland, said: “It was clear from the judging of the semi-finalists by an independent panel of industry experts, the standard was very high so we decided to take four teams forward to the next stage.

“We are looking forward to working with these enthusiast young people who are already demonstrating a strong interest in the agri-food sector. I would like to wish them every success for the next stage.”

Research projects

Each team has now been assigned a special project to develop over the next 18 months.

The topics will challenge them to explore innovative and forward-looking techniques and proposals for the future benefit of meat production in Northern Ireland.

The Belfast Royal Academy team with Charles Smith, general manager of the Northern Irish Angus Producer Group, and George Mullan, managing director of ABP Northern Ireland

The finalists are all aged between 14 and 16 and not all of them live on farms or come from a farming background.

For example, Belfast Royal Academy’s team are all urban dwellers and are interested in careers in the agri-food sector. They will be rearing their calves on the farm of the school’s biology teacher. Their project theme is the ‘challenges of farm finance’.

Enniskillen Royal Grammar’s team is being supported by the school’s home economics teacher. The school’s project theme is how Angus cattle production can enhance the sustainability of farming in Co. Fermanagh.

Pupils making friends with some Aberdeen Angus calves. Image source: Cliff Donaldson

The finalists representing Rainey Endowed School have been given ‘the benefits of benchmarking and the contribution of women to farm management’ as their special project.

The team members are all part of Rainey Endowed School’s Agricultural Club and all come from farming families.

St. Louis Grammar’s finalists also have farming backgrounds. They will be working on the concept of the family farm as a driver of sustainable agriculture.

The teams’ performance across all aspects of the final stage will be continually assessed to determine the overall winning group – with the winners also winning a £1,000 cash prize for their school.