Pupils from across Northern Ireland (NI) impressed judges competing for a place in the 2021-2022 ABP Angus Youth Challenge Finalist Skills Development Programme.

The role of genetics and grass-based systems in helping reduce carbon emissions from beef farming; the advantage of marketing Northern Ireland’s family farm tradition; and the importance of animal welfare standards to today’s consumer were just some of the topics under discussion by this year’s semi-finalists in the ABP Angus Youth Challenge.

11 teams took part in the semi-finals, which took place virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions. The participating teams were representing:

  • Ballymena Academy;
  • Cookstown High, who entered two teams;
  • Dalriada School;
  • Enniskillen Royal Grammar, who entered two teams;
  • Friends School Lisburn;
  • The Royal School Armagh;
  • St. Kevin’s College Lisnakea;
  • St. Patrick’s Maghera;
  • Wallace High School.

Congratulating the participants on reaching this year’s semi-final stage, George Mullan, managing director of ABP in Northern Ireland, said: “ABP would like to thank all our semi-finalists for taking part in the competition during an exceptionally challenging time in their school lives.

“I would also like to acknowledge the support of the schools and their families in helping them prepare so well for the judging interviews.”

Angus Youth programme

The teams that will progress through to the finals will be announced in June. For those teams that do make it through, their prize from ABP will be winning five Aberdeen Angus cross calves to rear through to finishing over an 18-month skills development programme.

They will also benefit financially from the sale of their calves to ABP and one overall winning team at the end of the programme will also receive a £1,000 cash prize for their school.

One of the teams from Cookstown High School puts the final touches to their presentation

The ABP Angus Youth Challenge is organised in partnership with the Northern Irish Angus Producer Group.

Its general manager Charles Smith added: “On behalf of the judging panel, I would like to commend all the teams for their impressive research into Angus beef production and the passion they demonstrated for many aspects of Northern Ireland’s rich farming and agri-food heritage.

“Notwithstanding the difficult circumstances created by the Covid-19 pandemic, ABP and the Angus Producer Group are determined to offer teenagers the opportunity of benefiting from this competition.”

Helping judge this year’s semi-final were representatives from the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) NI and the College of Agriculture Food & Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).