Seventeen-year-old David Craig, Ballyboggan, Clonard, Co. Meath is no stranger to the Simmental cattle breeding and showing circle right across the island.
From a very tender age, the current Leaving Cert student of St. Fintina’s Post Primary school in Longwood Co. Meath has always expressed an interest in the family farm.
The Craig family currently farm a herd of fourteen pedigree cattle under the ‘Ballyboggan’ prefix on the pastures of Clonard, Co. Meath.
In addition, a commercial herd is also operated.
The foundational animals of the herd, two pedigree breeding females sourced from the Seaview herd in July of 2012 and ‘Dermody Candy’ at the Irish Simmental Premier Show and Sale on 3rd November 2012, resulted in the era of a new breeding venture for the Meath-based farmers.
The first crop of calves were registered to the herd prefix two years later.
Selecting the breed for their renowned qualities of docility, milkability, good growth rates and calving ease, the Craigs were keen to establish a suckler herd.
Having built up on a cow base of nine pedigree breeding females, banking on the emphasis of the selection of a carefully carved pool of the genetics, the Craig family emerged on the cattle show scene for the first time in 2014.
Offering the herd’s first exhibits at Tullamore that very year, the family fetched third and fifth prize with ‘Ballyboggan Fieldstar’ and ‘Ballyboggan Fionn’.
Attending several shows annually, David, alongside his father and brother, find themselves competing in the local rings of Mullingar and Athlone and staging nationally at events at Tullamore and Strokestown shows.
‘I love the vibe associated with the weekly shows. You could find yourself travelling for hours upon end to a championship or other days you get the opportunity to spectate for the day with other fellow breeders and society members,’ David told That’s Farming.
The breaking of sweats, shedding of blood, sleepless nights, travelling endless hours to shows and inputting tiring hours of training in the yard of Ballyboggan has proved its worth year after year for the young Simmental enthusiast since hitting the road.
David, a member of the Young Irish Simmental Association, has earned success in the ring, qualifying for the North-Eastern Club finals for the past three years, taking home the second and third prize-winning ribbons.
Throughout his membership with the Young Irish Simmental Association and the Irish Simmental Society, David has been provided with the invaluable opportunity to broaden his knowledge by participating in young handler classes, show-preparation workshops and stock-judging competitions.
David returned to the show scene earlier this summer to pick up top honours for his September 2015-born bull ‘Ballyboggan GentleGiant ET’. From the early summer season, he proved his value and went on to take home third place in the North Eastern club. Continuing on the show family’s success, he finished sixth in a competitive class of bulls on the national stage of Tullamore Show and his showing year drew to a close as he returned to the Tullamore lands for the National Ploughing Championships, receiving fifth prize and finding a new home in Co. Laois.
‘Being involved in the agricultural industry is simply brilliant. You are forever meeting new people and making new friends. If it’s not in the mart, it’s at the shows during the summer. It all adds to my involvement,’ David said.
Noting that the most satisfying elements associated with agriculture is working the land while working with nature at the same time, the teenager has plans to further his education to assist with his increased involvement in the industry.
Inheriting the family farm, expanding the Simmental herd and carving out a career in the area of cattle breeding or genetics are just some of the plans Meath’s David has in store.