Winners announced for Certified Irish Angus Beef Schools Competition 2018

Six groups of second-level students from all over the country gathered to meet the Irish Angus calves yesterday (Tuesday, May 15) which they will rear for 18 months.

The Certified Irish Angus Beef Schools Competition, run by Irish Angus Producer Group – in association with ABP and Kepak – aims to “encourage second-level students to gain an understanding about the care and attention that is required to produce and market the highest quality beef for consumers”, the group says.

Following a competitive application process, including presenting to industry judges at a high-profile event in Croke Park recently, the schools were selected.

The schools chosen to move forward to the next phase of the competition are:
  • Roscommon Community College;
  • St. Joseph’s Mercy Secondary School, Navan;
  • Royal School Cavan;
  • St. Ita’s Special School, Drogheda;
  • Mary Immaculate Secondary School, Lisdoonvarna; and
  • Colaiste Treasa, Kanturk.

Speaking about the finalist schools, Charles Smith, general manager of the Irish Angus Producer Group, said: “It is great to see our finalist groups this year coming from all over the country, from Cavan right down to Cork.

“There is great variety in their project ideas, from the role of women in agriculture to the challenges of farming on the marginal land in and around Co. Cavan.

Our training day today provides the first opportunity for the groups to meet with the animals and get an insight into what is expected of them throughout this challenging, but incredibly rewarding, competition.

The teams will each receive five Irish Angus cross calves in September, which they will be required to rear for 18 months until their slaughter in 2020.

In addition to rearing the calves, the schools will complete a project focusing on a different aspect of farming and the food chain.

These include the following:

The Value of Irish Angus in Suckler Systems – Roscommon Community College students Keelan Gallagher, John Cunniffe and Sean Trundle will explore what Angus contributes to suckler systems. The benefits of choosing an Angus bull – including how output can be increased, coupled with environmental and animal welfare benefits.

Image source: Finbarr O’Rourke

‘Women in Agriculture’ – St. Joseph’s Mercy Secondary School, Navan students Amy Everard, Francesca McKenna, Saidhbh Gaffney-Bent, Ciara Smith and Katie Tully will research the challenges for women in agriculture, farming as a way of life and the benefits of rearing Irish Angus cattle on a family farm.

Image source: Finbarr O’Rourke

‘The Value of Irish Angus as a Production System’ – Royal School Cavan students Kelvin McNally, Sophie Reilly, Barry Stratford, Lloyd Hastings and Rachel Alexander will investigate how the breed is suited to various farming systems and land types, focusing on the challenge of farming marginal land.

Image source: Finbarr O’Rourke

‘The Quality and Flavour of Irish Angus Beef’ – St. Ita’s Special School, Drogheda students Conor Belton, Alisha Crosbie and Michael McQuillan will look into what makes Certified Irish Angus Beef superior and the farming activities which can impact the quality of the meat.

Image source: Finbarr O’Rourke

‘Angus Beef Production in Tandem with Nature’ – Mary Immaculate Secondary School, Lisdoonvarna students Amy Woods, Katie Thomas and Seamus MacNamara will research the tradition of cattle farming in the Burren region and the suitability of Irish Angus cattle to this unique part of Ireland.

Image source: Finbarr O’Rourke

‘Benefits of Irish Family Farming Systems’ – Colaiste Treasa, Kanturk students Gillian Casey, Aine O’Connor and Maire Moylan will explore the tradition of family farming in Ireland, its impact on rural communities and the support which the breed can provide to family farming system.

Image source: Finbarr O’Rourke

The Certified Irish Angus Beef Schools Competition aims to allow students to apply the knowledge they learn in the classroom to a real-life setting.

Each of the finalists will receive the financial benefit involved in the selling of the animals to the processors on completion of the project. The winning students also receive an additional grant of €2,000 for their further education.

For those interested, further information on the project is available on the group’s website.