Robert Miller - a well-esteemed commercial cattle breeder - returned home to Moneymore, Co. Derry, Northern Ireland in 1990 to farm.
Robert runs a 20-cow herd, which comprises mainly of Limousin-cross Belgian Blue breeding females, all of which are bred to AI Limousin sires that are selected on the basis of having length; width and style.
He owns the 2013 Smithfield Champion - She's a Diamond - a British-Blue-cross heifer by Heatheview Cooper that he purchased for 7,300gns when she was 11-months-old. She was the pre-sale show heifer and supreme champion at the Leyburn Spring Spectutlar in 2013 and made the record price at the event for John Smith-Jackson. She was tapped forward as the baby beef champion at the Agri-Expo and the East of England Smith Festival.
He is the owner of Dashing Lady - who was crowned the Baby Beef Champion at Smithfield in 2014; prior to this, the Dadydd D'Ochain daughter out of a Limousin-cross British Blue dam that was purchased from the McGowan brothers - was Champion at English Winter Fair and Reserve at Agri-Expo.
"I turned down big money for Dashing Lady; I brought her home and I am breeding her." Robert Miller told Catherina Cunnane - That’s Farming.
Dashing Lady and She's A Diamond are the herd's two main flushing cows that are responsible for breeding elite progeny that are topping shows and sales.
"Dashing Lady and She's a Diamond are my ideal cow-types; they are long; have great ends and are full of style - that's the type of calves they are producing too," Robert explained.
"We are flushing and planting embryos and calving all-year-round. Recipients are out-sourced at the local mart and from a neighbouring dairy farmer." He added.
The male progeny from the herd - which is predominately spring-calving - are finished as part of a 16-18-month bull beef production system, while up to 90% heifers are offered for sale as surplus breeding stock at a local mart.
[Phoebe and Mega Three]
Show circuit and sales ring
Robert has been exhibiting cattle at an array of agricultural shows for the past twenty-three years and enlists the help of two young handlers - Kile Diamond and Andrew Hamill.
Robert and his team also secured the prestigious 2018 Commercial Cattle NI Show Animal of the Year title earlier this year with this very heifer - Mega Phoebe - being crowned Show Animal of the Year,
The title is awarded to the animal that claims the highest points throughout the show year, starting in back in May at Balmoral Show running right through to the end of Summer Spectacular in September.
Robert’s commercial cattle claimed all three top spots, with “Mega Phoebe” [main image] being crowned Show Animal of the Year, followed by her full-embryo sister - Mega Mandy - in second place, followed by Paradise Lady in third position - a heifer purchased from the Williamson family.
"I have been showing commercial cattle for many years and to win Show Animal of the Year is a dream come true but to claim all top three spots it’s something else”. Robert outlined.
Robert enjoyed immense success at the inaugural Royal Ulster Beef and Lamb Championships - a new event in the farming calendar that built its foundations upon the legendary “Allams” show and sale.
Mega Phoebe - a 540kg British Blue-cross heifer out of the multi-award winning cow 'She's a Diamond - topped at sale at £5,400; a telephone bid from Somerset secured this Imperial daughter that was tapped forward as champion.
Following on her heels at £4,940, respectively was the Moneymore breeder's 650kg Limousin-cross heifer and Robert later went on to pick up the Ulster Housewife’s Champion ribbons with 'Mega Three' - a British Blue steer; he was knocked down at £2,500.
Mega Mandy was the highest-priced animal at the Gleno Valley YFC Fat Stock Christmas Show and Sale at Ballymena Mart; she weighed 560kg and found a new home at £3,100 on November 29th.
Other milestone memories include winning the Ulster Housewife's Choice Championship at Allams in 2012 with Duchess - a May-2012-born crossbred heifer sired by Normande Adventurer and in 2014, Robert won the baby beef section with Dashing Lady at English Winter Fair; this was his first time exhibiting at this event. In addition to the aforementioned, Robert has been successful on many other occasions.
Looking forward, Robert’s plan is to reduce cow numbers in order to allow him to focus on the herd’s ET programme; owning a 20-acre holding means that the Moneymore man has to cast a steady eye on stock numbers.
“Everyone wants to be at the top but it is not easy to stay there. This 2018 show season is an act that I do not know how I am going to follow.”
“It is hard work, 24/7 but I suppose if you are born into it, you don’t know any different and you wouldn’t want to change to anything else.” Robert Miller concluded.
Image source: Robert Miller
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