At a special event at the National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co. Laois this week, RTÉ broadcaster Carl Mullan revealed the six schools that will progress as finalists in the Certified Irish Angus school’s competition. Among the finalist groups challenged to rear Angus calves were David Duggan, Liam Killoran, Gavin O’Connor and Colin McGrath from Abbey Community College in Boyle.
The initiative, organised by Certified Irish Angus in association with its partners ABP and Kepak, has increased in popularity in recent years, with schools excelling from both urban and rural schools, with farming and non-farming backgrounds. The unique competition sees the student groups actively involved in the rearing of five Irish Angus cattle in order to allow them to gain an understanding of the care and attention that is required to produce top-quality Irish beef under a sustainable family farming system.
Over the next eighteen months, David Duggan, Liam Killoran, Gavin O’Connor and Colin Mcgrath will rear five Irish Angus calves while carrying out research on an important topic. The group will focus on ‘Sustainable Beef Production’, highlighting sustainability practices across beef processing and retailing and the environmental and sustainability benefits of the Angus breed in suckler beef production systems.
The Roscommon group join students from St. Louis’ High School in Rathmines, Holy Rosary College in Mountbellew, Ardscoil Phádraig in Granard, Ursuline Secondary School in Thurles, and St. Brigid’s Secondary School in Killarney as the successful finalists for this year’s competition.
Speaking about the event, Charles Smith (General Manager for Certified Irish Angus) said: “We are honoured to be welcomed back today by the National Ploughing Association for this special event, allowing the school’s competition finalists to meet their Angus calves for the first time. Standards were extremely high once again this year, with brilliant applications received from students of all backgrounds – inner-city schools and groups with rural and farming backgrounds.
“We are delighted to reveal these six schools as worthy finalists today. During the interview stages, these groups stood out to the judges for taking great interest in the agri-food industry and for bringing new perspectives, ideas, and findings to the competition. The next eighteen months will be exciting, challenging and rewarding for these students as they navigate their way through the competition”.
Now, the competition organisers are looking for enthusiastic Transition Year students across Ireland to be the next finalists of the popular competition. Each finalist group will receive a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rear five Angus calves for eighteen months, while preparing a research project on a relevant topic. The project themes will cover the important topics of Improving Animal Genetics, Sustainable Agriculture, Farm Health and Safety, and Increasing Consumer Awareness of the Quality of Irish Food, in Particular Irish Beef.
Each of the finalists will receive the financial benefit involved in the selling of the animals on completion of the project. The winning students also receive an additional grant of €2,000 for their further education.
Visit certifiedirishangus.ie/schools for information about the competition stages and how to enter. The closing date for entries is November 19th, 2021.