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Irish Limousin Cattle Society, Kilglass, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork

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Keen interest in Ashbourne Meats Limousin Cow Carcase Competition

Just fewer than 300 cows were entered into last week’s cow carcase competition run by Ashbourne Meat Processors, Roscrea and the Irish Limousin Cattle society. The competition, open to pedigree Limousin cull cows and commercial Limousin cross cows, focuses on rewarding breeders for producing high quality cows and also in developing a sales outlet between Limousin breeders and Ashbourne Meats that benefits the producer and the processor and provides feedback on required market specifications.

Under the competition, Limousin cows meeting the required spec were rewarded with a premium payment scale. Prices for cows processed started at €4.05/kg for E grade cows reducing to €3.85/kg for U+ grade cows, €3.75/kg for U=/ U- grades, €3.55/kg for R+/R= cows and €3.40/kg for R-cows. A 10c/kg premium was payable for cows with a pedigree cert. Those with a carcase lower than 350kg and Fat Class 5 were excluded from the competition. In addition to the price premium for cows, there was a €2,000 prize fund for the top seven cows in each section. The cow judged overall champion was a Limousin cross cow owned by Neville Myles and graded U+3+, was born in March 2010 and delivered a 500kg carcase. Winners in the two classes are listed below.

Specialised market

The competition concluded on Monday with a carcase display of the winning and top carcases slaughtered and also featured a display of in-spec and out-of-spec bull carcases.  Danny Houlihan, Ashbourne Meat Processors explained that the company has retained access to a market supplying high quality cow beef to France. The market is niche, differing significantly from the conventional market outlet for cows, and only caters for highly conformed cows with a good cover of flesh (fat score 3 and 4).

The French buyer of the cows, Henry Hofman, (who was also the competition’s judge) in turn trades the cow beef to buyers (mainly butchers) in Paris through the Rungis market. Henry explains that cow beef remains popular among French consumers but says like Ireland the demise of family butchers and small abattoirs/wholesalers throughout France has limited the sale of cow beef. “When I first came to Ireland buying cows, we could send loads and loads of cows to France each week. Now the market is more specialised and while there is demand, it is only for very good cows and averages maybe 50 cows per week”, said Henry.

He says that that the Rungis market, supplying fresh food to a high percentage of Paris’s 2.2m+ population, is now the only outlet with a big enough demand to cater for a steady throughput of cows. He explains that Limousin cows have a number of desirable attributes “the purebred and cross Limousin cows grading U and E can compete better with French cows as there are comparable on breed. Irish cows in some cases have a stronger selling point with some buyers due to their grass based/forage based diet but again quality is important. The best market is for carcases weighing 450kg, grading U+ or higher and + or better on fat. If cows do not meet this specification, we have to compete with cow beef from other EU countries which is impossible as it can cost 30c/kg or more less. We have to buy what the buyer wants and hopefully it is at a price that can reward the farmer for producing better quality cows”, he said.    

Pedigree Limousin cow carcase

1st Neal Dignam

2nd Denis Barry

3rd Michael Ryan

4th Stanley Richardson

5th Bill O’Keefe

6th William judge

7th Tom Fogarty

Limousin cross carcase competition

1st Neville Myles 

2nd Gerard Nerney

3rd Patrick Casey

4th Dermot & Margaret Lehane

5th James O’Donovan

6th John Coyne

7th Michael Stephens

Download competition results >>>

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Winning Pedigree carcass from Neal Dignam

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Winning LMX carcass from Neville Myles

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Winning pedigree carcass owner Neal Dignam with the judge of the competition Henry Hofman

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Peter Tormey receiving the John O'Grady memorial trophy from Mitheal O'Grady on behalf of the Overall winner Neville Myles Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal.

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Representaives of ILCS, Ashbourne Meats and Prize Winners

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Vice President of ILCS Dan O'Mahony and Danny Houlihan Ashbourne Meats with Sile, Mitheal and younger members of the O'Grady family along with the John O'Grady Memorial trophy

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Vice President of ILCS Dan O'Mahony and Danny Houlihan Ashbourne Meats with Cian and Eabha Stack along with the John O'Grady Memorial trophy

 

 

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