A Comeback for the NI Beef Expo

9th March 2018

After 6 years the NBA returned to Dungannon Farmers Market for their NI Beef Expo, and this year it was bigger and better than ever.

On Friday the NI Beef Expo farm tours welcomed 200 farmers on 6 buses from across Northern Ireland ready for an action packed day.

At the first stop, Gary Fitzpatrick and John Toland spoke of how their business started from small beginnings to a range of calf rearing units, rearing over 10,000 calves a year. The pairs forward thinking attitude and passion to rear calves at the highest welfare standards had taken them across Europe to find the ideal starter ration for their calves, bringing back formulations to be manufactured on home ground.

They have also adapted their building designs, experimented with bedding and altered calf group size to minimise the disease in the units, finding that groups sizes of 8 and ventilation tubes, and generous bedding were optimal for management and cost effective for the business.

At Jonathan Price’s immaculate finishing unit, major sponsor Dunbia served up a delicious hearty lunch warming up visitors from the cold chill of the beast from the east. The procurement team gave visiting famers an insight into beef market trends alongside presentations from Jonathon on his state of the art handling system, both time saving and a health and safety must for those working with large livestock.

AFBI and AgriSearch partnered up to present their latest research at Loughgall farm. Covering genetics, grassland management, feed efficiencies and health and safety there was something for everyone. Francis Lively headed up the walk presenting on the successful use of AI in beef suckler herds, a theme that was continued by Cogent Genetics Beef Specialist Boomer Birch at the Beef Expo seminars the following day.

Commenting on the farm tours Chris Mallon, Chief Executive of the NBA, said “We were delighted to be able to provide such a variety of farms, giving a snapshot of the variety of systems which exist within our industry. We hope the tours have acted as a knowledge sharing exercise, allowing farmers to view new ideas in practise, some of which they can take home and apply within their own businesses. We would like to extend our thanks to the farm tour hosts for allowing the NBA access to their operations, and to Dunbia for providing the hot beef lunch which was most welcome on a cold day!”

The evening further celebrated of the strength of the NI Beef industry with the NI Beef Industry dinner.  A delicious beef dinner provided by Dunbia was piped in by Conor Dooey. After dinner speaker David Martin was a definite highlight of the evening, with his clever, witty poems and anecdotes.  Over £1000 was raised for the NI Air Ambulance, with a raffle and charity auction. A fantastic amount raised for such a worthy cause. The performance by Fiddler Adams got everyone on their feet dancing and was a great end to a memorable evening.

The action continued at the main event on Monday 26th.  Attended by approximately 1000 visitors, Dungannon auction market was bustling. Over 70 commercial trade stands and 15 Breed Society Stands were kept busy with farmers throughout the day, all eager to learn about the latest available innovations and technologies in the beef industry.

The trade stands and breed societies  put on a fantastic display. The winner of the best breed society stand, was awarded to British Simmental cattle society for their excellent display of cattle and technical information, closely followed in second place by the Herefords and third the Stabilisers.

The best indoor trade stand was won by Dunbia and the best outdoor stand was awarded to Clipex Fencing.

For the first time NI Beef Expo played host to the highly renowned Stars of the Future Calf Show and Sale, coordinated by the NI Commercial Cattle Exhibitors Club, the show was judged by Mr James Nesbitt, Emmett Kelly, Augher.
The sale has always been a perfect opportunity for buyers to snap up some top-quality calves ready for the showing season and this year’s event certainly didn’t disappoint. A very smart 10-month old Limousin cross heifer from Alan Veitch, Lisbellaw, Fermanagh stormed to a record price of £8,000 for any crossbred animal sold in Northern Ireland.

The packed seminar programme was very well attended by the public.  With industry specialists giving insights into emerging disease risks, policy changes and the latest research in genetics, grassland management and cattle health, there was something for everyone.

Commenting on the event, Ernie Ritchie, NBA (NI) Board Member said the event had been well received by all.
“The NI Beef Expo show day never fails to impress, and it is a brilliant opportunity to network, and learn about all the latest technologies that the industry has to offer.”

The NBA would like to thank all the Sponsors of NI Beef Expo especially our Major Sponsor Dunbia; our Gold Sponsors The British Simmental Cattle Society, COOP, Norbrook and Countryside Services; Our bronze Sponsors; A B Vista, Boehringer Ingelheim, Caltech Crystalyx and Natural Stockcare.  Special thanks goes to Dungannon Farmers Auction Market for hosting the event.