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.
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 >>>