Seminar speakers announced for NBA NI Beef Expo

9th February 2018

Boomer Birch, Beef Programme Manager, Cogent Breeding
Boomer Birch, Beef Programme Manager, Cogent Breeding

Today the NBA have announced their line up of key-note speakers for the NI Beef Expo Seminars. With insights into emerging disease risks, policy changes and the latest research in genetics, grassland management and cattle health the Beef Expo seminars are not to be missed. 
Each seminar will include two 25-minute presentations and a 10-minute Q & A session at the end.


Chair: John Sheridan, Chairman of NI NBA

Speaker 1: Robert Huey, Chief Veterinary Officer, DEARA
Topic: TB and policy in NI
Robert joined the Veterinary Service in 1989, having spent five years in general mixed veterinary practice in Maghera, County Londonderry. After a period in general field duties, there followed a period teaching ‘Animal Health’ in Loughry Agricultural College, a general emersion in meat hygiene issues and promotion various policy and delivery roles.  From 2002 to 2009 he was responsible for the delivery of DARD’s meat hygiene services for the Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland.  Robert Huey took up the position as Chief Veterinary Officer on 11 November 2013 and in 2017 was awarded a Fellowship by the RCVS.

His seminar will cover the increasing issue of TB in Northern Ireland and how policy must change to combat its spread head on.

Speaker 2: Maura Langan, MVB Veterinary Advisor- Norbrook Laboratories
Topic: Best Practice Guide for Liver Fluke Control in Cattle

Maura has been Norbrook’s vet advisor since Sept 2009 and has a keen interest in all aspects of cattle medicine.

Maura’s seminar will give an overview of liver fluke disease and the profound effect it can have on the productivity of growing and fattening cattle. Research shows that high levels of fluke infestation in cattle can reduce weight gains by a staggering 28%. The seminar will investigate how farmers can implement best practise treatment programmes capable of dealing with the high levels of fluke that cattle are likely to have in certain parts of the country.

Grassland Seminar 12pm-1pm

Chairman: Ernie Ritchie, Trustee director of the NBA

Speaker 1: DR Francis Lively, Beef scientist AFBI
Topic:  Grasscheck project

Francis has been a leading beef scientist at AFBI Hillsborough since 2005.  Francis’s interest in beef started from a young age, growing up on a beef and sheep farm, studying Agriculture at Queen’s and undertaking a PhD jointly between the Food Science Division at Newforge and the Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland (ARINI) Hillsborough on beef eating quality.

In spring 2017 a collaboration between researchers at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), farmers and industry in Northern Ireland was formed to drive improvements in grass utilisation for local livestock producers through the long running GrassCheck project.

An update on the project will be provided highlighting the importance of grass growth monitoring for making important management decisions that enable maximal grass utilisation which in turn will maximise profits. 

Speaker 2: James Daniel, Director of Precision Grazing Ltd
Topic: Profitable Grazing Systems

Growing up on a family farm James was quick to recognise the value of well managed grazing and its potential in the UK. After studying Engineering at Harper Adams University his eagerness to develop his knowledge led him to New Zealand where he managed a TechnoGrazing beef enterprise owned by the Wier family, the founders of Kiwitech NZ.
Upon returning home he initially worked with local farmers, growing the business before founding Precision Grazing in 2016 which now provides grazing management for 3500hd cattle.     

James’ seminar will investigate how farmers can implement and manage grazing systems which increase farm profitability whilst enhancing the environment. 

Breeding Seminar 1pm-2pm

Chairman: Stephen Heenan, previous Trustee Director of the NBA

Speaker 1: Adam Woods, Beef Editor – Irish Farmers Journal
Topic: How to calve a cow

Adam Woods is the Beef Editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, a position he has held since September 2016.  Prior to that he has held research and advisory positions within Teagasc in the Republic of Ireland.  He comes from a beef farming background in Cavan.

The seminar will look at management of the suckler cow at calving.  In particular, when is it appropriate to intervene, when and how a jack should be used, care of the newborn calf, and the importance of having good handling facilities.

Adam will be accompanied by a practicing vet from Parklands Veterinary Group in Dungannon.

Speaker 2: Boomer Birch, Beef Programme Manager, Cogent Breeding
Topic: The benefits of AI within the beef industry

As a farmer’s son from Staffordshire, Boomer Birch has been working with Cogent Breeding Limited for nine years. In 2016, he was appointed the role of Beef Programme Manager to push forward the ‘Signature’ side of the business. He is also responsible for selecting bulls for the Cogent stud, developing the young sire progeny evaluation programme and advising farmers on breeding practices. Asides from his work commitments, Boomer is a successful showman with his Sky-High Hereford herd having a variety of breed and interbreed championships under his belt.

The seminar will cover the importance of beef genetics within the dairy herd, benefits of A.I within the suckler herd, and the use of sexed semen to maximise outputs.

To pre-book your tickets to the NI BEEF EXPO and for more information on the event please visit our website or call 01434 601005.