Two-time president Norman Little has served almost four decades on the Society committee
When Norman Little attended his first meeting of the Irish Angus National Council almost 40 years ago, little did he think he would stay on for a record unbroken tenure on the council.
“In 1982 I was elected to fill the seat of my uncle Willie, who had served for a number of years,” recalls Norman, who runs the Cavetown herd near Boyle, Co Roscommon.
Norman has been re-elected every three years since, in accordance with the rules of the society.
“I am running the farm he had at that time and I still have some of the original Angus bloodlines in the successors in the herd.
Norman is also one of just a few men to serve two terms as president.
“Angus pedigree breeders are easy to deal with once you are straight with them,” he says.
“We talk about the problems, iron them out and come out with the best solution for the member and the breed.
“I always found it is best to keep cool and try to arrive at a solution that everyone will be happy with.”
Norman has enjoyed plenty of success with his herd.
Cavetown Blackbird 2nd is believed to be the only Irish Angus female to become National Champion five times and produce a daughter which was also crowned national champion on her first showing.
“Blackbird 2nd was an exceptional cow, and I still have cows that are related to her and not far behind her,” he says.
“When she was 12 months old there was a breeder here from Denmark who wanted to buy her at any price but she was not for sale.
“She was an absolute beauty.
She would have stood out to any judge with her cocked ears, and she was very alert. A lovely beast with great legs under her and a great top.
“She was a very stylish cow that anyone would take a fancy to.”
Then there was his “most memorable day” in the judging ring when his stock swept the boards at the last ever RDS Spring Show in 1994 — his first time exhibiting at the event. He won Champion cow and overall Champion Angus, the best pair of yearling heifers, and reserve champion for a group of three.
“We went to the agricultural shows all over the country and enjoyed every minute of it,” says Norman, who is an accomplished judge. When you get the bug you’d go anywhere because every show will be after you then to come and you can’t say ‘no’.
“Eventually it became too much, often a few days each week at shows around the country during the season.
“We didn’t have the time to keep it up and we haven’t been showing for a number of years.”
Norman continues with a herd of 20 pedigree Angus, along with a commercial herd, and he doesn’t intend changing any time soon.
Having judged at shows and visited farms across the world — from Finland to Canada, and Germany to South Africa — Norman Little is convinced that the Irish Angus can hold their own with the best on the planet.
“They are easy fed and nice cattle to work with and there’s a great demand for the beef,” he says. “They are a marvellous breed and they are in great demand everywhere.
“The breed has changed over the decades. They had gone very small at one stage before Irish Angus.
“The selection of bulls at that time brought down the breed, but today they can compete with any commercial breed. “The Angus cows are as strong as any cow now.”
Norman believes that imported bloodlines have greatly benefited the breed.
“The breed has been improved. We have it where we want it and want to hold it there,” he says. “There are absolutely lovely Angus around the world.
“When I was judging in Halifax, breeders were saying that the Angus in Canada was going through change but I saw the loveliest of cattle there, not gone over-size at all. They had come back again and were very good cattle.”
Norman was a strong advocate of the Angus Producer Group, which has negotiated the bonus on Angus cross animals at the factories; demand has rocketed.
“The producer group selling Angus is very important,” he says. “Angus and Hereford are the best beef, way out in front on the quality of meat.
“Angus beef is very sought after. People don’t want a very big steak. It is the medium that is taking.
“The day is gone when the customers were looking for a steak that didn’t even fit on a plate.”