This year’s trip was shorter in time than it has been in the past, although we still managed to fit in two herd visits, the stock judging competition, laser tag, a social evening and a presentation dinner.
We began the trip with a herd visit to Kilbride Farm, where we saw some fantastic stock. The field of yearling heifers was a spectacle. Throughout the trip on numerous occasions the young members are given the opportunity to ask questions and discuss amongst themselves about any aspect of breeding and rearing stock. At the end of the tour around the cattle, the Robson family gave the advice that to move forward with a herd, you must cull hard. Take the females out that aren’t producing good stock and to concentrate your efforts on those that are.
We were lucky enough to be part of the annual Charity BBQ event that is held at Dungannon. This year's event included a raffle that was held throughout the past show season in memory of Thelma Gorman raising money for the air ambulance, it was a fantastic event to be part of, well done to all those behind organising and promoting it.
Saturday morning arrived and the pinnacle of the event was upon us. The young members congregated after breakfast, armed with white coats, ties, pens and note paper. We travelled to the Hiltonstown herd, the Rodgers family kindly hosted this part of the event. Some tremendous cattle awaited us to judge. There was, as always with stock judging competitions, easier classes and more difficult classes to judge that caused debate amongst the competitors both young and ‘old’!
After judging a classification demonstration was held. A great insight for the young members to see what criteria to look for in picking breeding females.
Richard chatted amongst the young members as they looked around the rest of his herd, they discussed what he looks for when selecting new bloodlines into the herd, the pros and cons of using AI and selecting a stock bull. As a group they chatted about what they’d like to see and achieve in the future.
Over the course of the two days the young members were given the opportunity to take away knowledge gained from 30 years plus experience in breeding and selling cattle, along with an understanding of new tools to use in the form of classification, all gained in a very relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.
Moving away from cattle for a couple of hours we took the YM to laser tag to have fun, build friendships and let that competitive side of them out! By the sight of them upon returning to the mess house they definitely had fun, some more competitive that others with innovative ways to ‘win’ not naming names (Chris) and they had most definitely worn themselves out and worked up an appetite for the presentation dinner that evening.
Those that weren’t stopping at the hotel all travelled to the presentation dinner, which gave us the opportunity to thank all of those that had made the trip possible, enjoy nice company and of course find out who had won this year’s stock judging event.
I have thoroughly enjoyed taking the young members on their trips, year on year you can see an increase in their knowledge, friendships flourish, new friendships made and lots of laughter along the way.