O’Hara is new President of Shorthorn Cattle Society

Breeders of pedigree cattle in the West of Ireland received a boost last week when Roscommon farmer John O’Hara was elected as President of the Irish Shorthorn Cattle Society. Mr. O’Hara, who has a suckler and dry stock at Ballysundriven, Elphin, was elected at the Society’s recent AGM. John O’Hara has a long and successful association with the Shorthorn breed for more than half a century. Prize shorthorns from his nationally respected Kinard herd have won numerous awards at Irish agricultural shows in recent decades. Kinard shorthorns were winners at recent cattle shows in Strokestown, Carrick-on-Shannon, Mohill, and Jamestown. The Irish Shorthorn Society was formally re-established in 2004 and currently boasts more than 400 members nationally. Together with existing breeders the society receives membership from shorthorn breeders who stopped registering their cattle in recent years. The society is growing annually. There is a definite renewed interest in the Shorthorn breed in Ireland, which is evident from an increase in requests for animal registrations. The society is determined to put in place measures to restore confidence in the breed for its members and provide a good future for Shorthorn cattle in Ireland, both dairy and beef. The Shorthorn breed of cattle, which we know today, has evolved over the last two centuries, from Teeswater and Durham cattle found originally in the North East of England. In the late 18th Century two brothers, Charles and Robert Colling, started to improve these Durham cattle using line breeding techniques established so successfully by Robert Bakewell on Longhorn cattle. The breed was used in the early part of the 20th Century, primarily as a dual-purpose breed, but specialisation for beef and milk led to the beef breeders starting their own section of the herd book in 1958. Since that time the beef Shorthorns have been developed as a separate breed and in 1976 in an effort to improve the muscling in the breed, the Directors of the Beef Shorthorn Cattle Society sanctioned the use of Maine-Anjou blood into the breed. The herd book was then closed again to outside blood in 2001, except by introduction through Grading Register. The importance of the Shorthorn breed in the development of other cattle breeds is enormous, and Shorthorn genetics have been used worldwide in the development of over 40 different breeds. The breed has a very long and distinguished history, and developments on both the beef and dairy sides have ensured that the breed also has a very bright future. Mr. John O’Hara was the breed’s nominee for the Hall of Fame award in 2003. He is a member of the Midland and Western Livestock Society.