A rigorous inspection process is a fundamental element of Irish Charolais Cattle Society show and sales.
The society, which continues to demonstrate its willingness to invest in its breed, implemented this strict procedure a number of years ago to “give confidence to both pedigree and commercial breeders”, according to its president, Noel McGoldrick.
This year’s Christmas Cracker, which takes place at Elphin Mart on Saturday, December 7th, will see 93 bulls go under the hammer.
All bulls are pre-selected vet inspected, fertility tested, and fertility insured; entries are export-tested and eligible for export on the day of sale.
All bulls are pre-inspected approximately six weeks before the sale is scheduled to take place; this period of time allows all entries to be DNA sire verified by Weatherbys DNA Laboratory.
“We are encouraging breeders to do DNA verification checks in advance of pre-sale selection periods. By doing so, we hope this will reduce the lead time from pre-sale inspections to sale days in the near future.” Noel McGoldrick told That’s Farming.
In addition to this, entries are also pre-inspected by the society’s field officer, John Beirne, who ensures that animals meet the standards set out in the society herd-book.
Up to two-hundred-and-fifty entries are submitted for the Christmas Cracker sale every year and from this, approximately 100 bulls are chosen for the sale.
“The cream of the crop, some of the best bulls that are exhibited at agricultural shows throughout the year, are offered for sale at the Christmas Cracker and the premier sale.”
“Our sales attract purchasers from across the country, along with the UK, Scotland and Wales – many of these are repeat customers,” McGoldrick added.
The society offers incentives such as free transport available to a UK mainland venue, with €100 available towards transport costs to Northern Ireland and a deferred payment scheme, where purchasers can opt to pay one-third of the price of a bull on the day of sale.
Regarding genetic improvements, the society has made notable progress in terms of calving ease and other traits in recent years.
“Charolais has been predominately known as a terminal sire, but we have outperformed all other breeds when it comes to the improvement in maternal characteristics, maternal indices and calving figures for the past number of years." the president explained.
The society aims to improve calving ease, carcase conformation and quality further, without compromising on traits, such as milk and fertility. By having animals genotyped, it will allow the society to request the myostatin status of each animal.
From this date, entries at its show and sales must be genomic-tested and verified prior to the closing date for entries. DNA verification will no longer be accepted, it has stated, as reported by us here.
The society confirmed that it will cover the cost of the myostatin test for each animal entered in society sales for the first year, which is €6/animal.
Myostatin is a gene that influences the production of proteins which control muscle development. Currently, in Charolais cattle, there are two known mutations of the gene – F94L & Q204X.
“We are going to be the first society to have all males and females myostatin tested pre-sale - this information will be displayed in sales catalogues.” McGoldrick revealed.
Going forward, the society will continue its efforts to expand the gene pool for pedigree breeders. “As a society, we need to keep our breed structurally sound and correct."
"It is essential that we retain the key characteristics that are the backbone of Charolais. We are constantly searching for suitable genetics in France.”
The performance of Charolais-cross cattle in marts across the country unquestionably demonstrates the strengths of the breed and the prominent position it holds in the suckler-beef sector.
“There is no other breed performing like the Charolais does in the commercial ring, in terms of daily live weight gain and weight for age.”
“Top-end Charolais-cross weanlings are averaging €150-€200/head more than their competitors in commercial mart rings at present and have been for the last 12 months,” McGoldrick added.
"An Algerian delegation visited farms across Ireland last week and was extremely impressed with Charolais-cross cattle."
The Irish Charolais Cattle Society is also dedicated to providing knowledge and training to young people, as demonstrated by its youth development programme (YDP), which is overseen by Nevan McKiernan and Michael Carey.
“The YDP programme is a crucial part of the society because they are the next generation of breeders,” McGoldrick concluded.