Finalists of Angus Schools competition celebrated at Ploughing
The five finalists, CBS, The Green from Tralee, Co Kerry; St Brogan's College, Bandon, Co Cork; Coláiste Treasa, Kanturk, Co Cork; Rice College, Westport, Mayo; and Athlone Community College, have been entrusted with the care of five six-month old Angus calves until November 2017, when they will be slaughtered and sold to market.
The Irish Angus Producer Group, along with its processor partners, ABP Ireland and Kepak Group, devised the competition in an effort to further increase awareness of certified Irish Angus Beef among consumers and give young people a chance to experience the work and care needed to raise animals for slaughter.
One school will be chosen as the overall winner in early 2018 and will receive an additional €2,000 payment towards their further education.
RTÉ broadcaster Miriam O'Callaghan presented the calves and noted the inclusion in this year's competition of students with no agricultural background, the five boys from CBS The Green, in Tralee, Co Kerry and three of the four girls from Coláiste Treasa.
"I think it's great that there is a school involved where there is no one in farming, so it gives them a whole new interest," she said.
Selection and judging process
The five schools went through a gruelling process to reach the final, having been whittled down from 140 to 40 schools originally.
Each will regularly visit their calves, who will be staying on farms near the various schools, to record weights, administer vaccinations and note any changes in diet.
Each school will focus their research on different areas, including the health benefits of Angus beef in the diet, Angus as a viable option for dairy farmers, the importance of providing Angus for market at the correct time, the history of the breed and bio-security.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal at the presentation, the girls from Coláiste Treasa said they're hoping to train the calves to be tame enough so they can mix with people.
"We're hoping to get them used to people so we can enter them into the St Patrick's Day parade or do something very unusual with them," they said.
"We will be marked on progress and the performance of the calves, so although they are staying on someone else's farm we are primarily responsible for them," they added.
They love the Ploughing: "It's so good, and it's interesting seeing a different side of it this year," they said.
And they may get a few days off for Ploughing 2016, but it will be business as usual on Friday.
"We'll be home Thursday night and back in school early and bright on Friday morning," they laughed.
The launch of the Certified Irish Angus Beef School Competition 2017 took place in September and closing date for receipt of entries is Tuesday 1 November 2016.