'We have some of the best Charolais cattle in the world in this country'- new society president
Noel McGoldrick has never forgotten the advice he received when he took his first steps into the world of pedigree beef breeding as a teenager.
Noel, who founded the Cloonohill Herd in Drumlish, Co Longford as a 19-year-old, vividly remembers his first purchase of two pedigree heifers from Donegal breeders John and Daphne Elliot.
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"They were a lovely couple and insisted on delivering the two heifers. I still remember John's words to me: 'Young man, I will give you a word of advice, look after them and they'll look after you'. It was very sound advice I never forgot," says Noel.
Last month, three years after taking up a seat on the National Council, Noel was elevated to the highest office in the Irish Charolais Cattle Society, when he was elected national president.
He succeeds Kevin Maguire (Meath), who has held the office for three years.
Noel is looking forward to the challenges and the honour of leading the organisation at an interesting period in their history: it is preparing to showcase the quality of the Irish Charolais to 65 international delegates to the World Charolais Technical Congress being hosted by the Irish Society in August.
"I believe that we have some of the best pedigree Charolais in the world in Ireland and I am very positive about the future," he says.
"We all have fears and worries about the future but there is only so much of that within our control. We have the very best product that is available when it comes to pedigree cattle and that is a big advantage which we should not underestimate."
There was a tradition of Charolais on the McGoldrick farm but the untimely passing of Noel's father, while Noel was a college student, made for a challenging time.
The decision to reduce the size of the herd had to be reluctantly taken as Noel tried to share his time between a full-time job off farm and the livestock management over the following years.
"My decision to get into pedigree Charolais was taken in the situation where I was working full-time off the farm and I needed a breed that was easily managed," Noel recalls. "And Charolais was always a choice at home as far back as I could remember.
"We used the Simmental cross for replacement heifers because that gave us fine scope, milk and temperament - everything that made up a good mix and we could go back in with the Charolais again. That was our key to profitability.
"I have a love for farming and for the Charolais breed that will only die with me.
"The breed has a lot to offer to breeders in any part of the country and no matter where you go, if it is quality that you are after there are Charolais genes in there somewhere."
Noel decided to reduce the numbers and try to maintain or improve the income because keeping the job and trying to manage a sizeable herd at home was not an option. It was decided to have a reduced herd size of pedigree animals.
Following the initial purchase of those two heifers in Donegal, further foundation stock was purchased from John McGlynn, of Dromod, Co Leitrim - who is currently on the council; one of them went on to become the grand dam to one of the highest price bulls he ever sold, at €7,000, and Noel continued to build up the pedigree herd from mostly home-bred stock.
Sires used in the herd included Oldstone Egbert, a bull that has been very popular among breeders; Indurain - CF52, a widely used sire and popular especially for his beef traits; as well as Jupiter by which he bred some very good cows.
"There has been a limited gene pool for pedigree Charolais breeders for some time, because the commercially profitable sires are based towards the suckler commercial farmers rather than the pedigree breeders - that is the reality and we have to accept that," Noel says.
"We are trying to expand our genetic pool for pedigree breeders because we are there purely to promote the breed and assist the breeders. We are looking at different ways of promoting the progeny of the Charolais bulls.
"We are also trying to give purchasers more scientific information and more confidence in what they are buying with the introduction of Myostatin testing which is under discussion by the council."
Noel says many people have questions about the information currently available which is largely predictive only and acts as a general guide, while the Myostatin results will be science-based for each individual animal.
On his role as president he says: "I feel that I am very lucky that there are some very good people on the Charolais Society council. They are highly, highly respected stockmen, people with real intelligence and I think that collectively we have far more potential and I use that word collectively.
"As president I have ideas, and I have put some of them to council and will be making more, but it has to be very much more about a group discussion, group ideas, and ironing those out and finding the best solutions that can benefit the society members the most.
"If decisions are made for the right reasons and in the interest of fairness and honesty, people will respect that, and as president I want to lead by example. I won't blackguard anybody regardless of who it is or what it is.
"This is not about one person. We have to work together and succeed collectively.
"I will do everything I can to represent every breeder and I believe that we may have different ways of doing things that can further improve the Charolais as a breed in this country.
"I am open to looking at all options that are open to the society to improve the breed, gain more windows on more markets and get higher sales averages, because that is what it comes down - that will benefit all breeders and put more money into their pockets."
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