Young farmers: Introducing Daniel O’ Donovan, a champion Belgian Blue shower from West Cork.


On this week’s Young Farmer series, Kevin speaks to West Cork native Daniel O’Donovan, who comes from one of the most successful Belgian Blue showing families in the country.

Young farmers: Introducing Daniel O’ Donovan, a champion Belgian Blue shower from West Cork.

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  • 7 mths ago

On this week’s Young Farmer series, Kevin speaks to West Cork native Daniel O’Donovan, who comes from one of the most successful Belgian Blue showing families in the country.

Daniel O’Donovan hails from the Western part of Cork county, where he and his family run a pedigree/continental cross herd.

Aged just 24-years of age, Daniel already has had great success on the showing circuits and even took home the top prize in Tullamore last year. The O’Donovans have a strong agricultural background, with Daniel being the fifth generation farmer to walk the lands.

The family have a strong Belgian Blue herd, with some continental types also. These consist of Blue crosses,Charolais crosses and Limousine crossbreeds. They have approximately 12 Pedigree Belgian Blues, whilst they also have a side-herd of about 25 crossbred suckler cows. The Pedigree herd goes under the name of Don Blues.

“We are all beef...the pedigree herd consists of all Belgian Blues, though I have actually branched into the Limousines this year.” said Daniel.

“We have one calf there at the minute, just to kind of trial run to see how she goes. Maybe next year we will branch into them a bit more,” he said.

Daniel works in a full-time career in construction, though this does not mean he gets away from his farming duties. Rain, hail or snow, Daniel can be seen on the farm seven days a week. He is also in the process of completing the green cert at the moment, on a part-time basis. The team is made up of his sister, Daniel and his father Tim, who is still heavily involved.

Why Belgian Blues:
Daniel says his progression into breeding and showing Belgian blues, was more of an inevitability, rather than a choice.

“I didn’t really have a choice, they were there before I was,” joked Daniel.

“My father started back in the early 90’s...and I knew no other breed growing up, just the blues. They are just exceptional,” he added.

Recently, as mentioned above, the family have obtained their first, non-Belgian Blue, pedigree animal. The reason behind this, is because Daniel saw the need to branch out, due to Pedigree Belgian Blue bulls not receiving the prices they once did.

“At the minute trying to sell pedigree blues is difficult...We had one bull back in 2014, which we brought across to Cornwall in England, we sold for €7,500.”, Daniel said.

“That bull I had this year, a lot reckoned if it was 6-8 years ago that it was a €10,000 to €15,000 bull all day long.” he added.

The bull was sold to the same herd in Cornwall as the herds champion of 2014 and he made €6,000. He was the supreme champion and top price at the blue premier sale in Tullamore in October. Daniel said a lot of people are steering clear of the breed, due to the difficulty in calving and admits the big calves obtained, means a lot of cesarean sections are required.

“There was three done so far this year, with another eight of nine left,” he adds.

“The calves coming out though are serious calves”, he stressed.

Showing cattle:
As mentioned above, Daniel hails from a family with a strong showing background. It is a big family occasion, with his father, sister and grandmother the team involved. This Christmas gone, saw the team lose their most experienced member, Daniel’s grandmother.

“My grandmother passed away just the week before Christmas. She is going to be a big loss,” Daniel lamented.

“The woman thought us what we know,” Daniel stressed.

Daniel said his grandmother's knowledge of the industry was second to none and says she will be sadly missed by all on the farm.” he added.


“It is a big family thing, my father got us into it really. It is just myself and my sister at it now,” he continued.

The team, Daniel specifically, had a great deal of success on the showing circuits in 2018, with the team having the All-Ireland winning Junior bull at last year’s Tullamore show, meaning they took home two all-Ireland titles last year.

“To pull an All-Ireland in Tullamore was probably my best win so far,” he said.

Daniel said the showing scene has gotten increasingly difficult in recent years, though he loves every minute of it. He says the only real challenge connected with showing, is picking the winner!.

Daniel is also a member of the Belgian Blue society, whilst he is also a member of the Commercial cattle Exhibitors society. At the moment, Daniel is the standing secretary of the Commercial Cattle Exhibitors Society. Daniel says the support given by organisations like these is “massive”.

Future:
As for the future, Daniel is aiming for more gold in the near future, such is his dedication to showing his beloved blues.

“We all aim for the All-Ireland, but with the way the showing is gone, it is hard,” he added.

“We have had a good run the last few years. We have definitely brought one All-Ireland home the last four or five years,” he said.

He hopes to one day make the move into full-time farming, though he admits it is not a possibility at the moment.

“I would love to make a go of full-time farming at home, but at the minute it is not going to happen financially. It just wouldn’t pay,” he says.

He says this is his general plan, or else he would like a career in AI or scanning cattle, nothing is set in stone as of yet. He insists he will be involved in agriculture, regardless.

Advice:
When asked what he would tell those looking to get into showing cattle or breeding pedigrees, Daniel responded on the spot.

“Go for it and have a good bank account behind you,” he joked.

He said time and dedication is a must, in order to be successful.

“Time would be the number one aspect of it,” he added.

Why he loves what he does:
He loves what he does, simply because it is in his blood.

“We grew up around it...as I got older you get to make friends. Its (showing network) is a small family really”, he said.

“We have friends from Clare, Galway and everywhere...a lot of my best friends would be through the shows,” he concluded.

Daniel may not have had much of a choice over his path into the showing circuits, but he definitely hasn’t looked back or rested on his success. On the back of a very successful 2017, I have no doubt we will see Daniel’s name pop up on the show circuit winning lists in 2018 and continue to make his grandmother proud.

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