Rugby legend John Hayes outlines what makes Hereford Beef so special
The former Munster, Ireland & Lions Rugby player is now ABP - Irish Hereford Prime Ambassador.
The legendary prop now spends his days rearing Hereford cattle on his family farm at Cappamore, Co Limerick. ‘I farm ninety acres in Cappamore, Co. Limerick. I keep 20 sucklers. I sell all as beef, usually at around 20 to 22 months of age.’
I have a commercial Hereford herd. We have always Hereford cattle at home. They are a good-quality, hardy animal and I think they are a very suitable breed for this part of the country.’
‘We don’t have a very early turn-out date around here. In an exceptional year, I might be able to turn out my cows and calves as they are calving, but normally I would keep them in for two or three weeks until I am sure about ground conditions and grass covers.’
John works tirelessly to promote Irish Hereford Prime throughout Ireland visiting many restaurants around the country.
What differentiates the Hereford from other breeds?
John firmly believes that the Hereford breed ticks all the boxes; ‘The Hereford is a very hardy animal that can thrive and perform well on all land types. They are very easy to handle, work with and are extremely docile. They are a very low maintenance animal.’
‘Once they calve, get up and suck and work away for the summer. This makes them an ideal animal for both part and full time farmers as they are easy to keep.’
John explains what Irish Hereford Prime is all about; ‘Irish Hereford Prime was set up to market Hereford beef as a premium product instead of just being beef, they went after a niche market to make it a premium product. That’s why they are willing to pay a bonus for it. Breeders are willing to stand over a guarantee over their product, when it’s sent over to retail and restaurants. That’s one of the benefits of being part of the society.’
John is married to Fiona and has three children; Sally is 11, Roisin is 8 and Bill is 4.
This year marks 20 years for Irish Hereford Prime. Irish Hereford Prime was established in 1997 by Hereford breeders and beef producers. With the support of the Irish Hereford Breed Society, a dedicated Hereford Beef Producer Scheme was put in place to provide a continuous supply of suitable cattle, Irish Hereford Prime. This group partnered with beef processor ABP Nenagh.
The Hereford breed was established over two and a half centuries ago in Herefordshire in England, and is now the breed of choice in all major beef production countries. Introduced to Ireland in 1775, the Hereford was recognised as an animal with the temperament, quality and performance to suit both Irish farming conditions and tastes.
From humble beginnings, Certified Irish Hereford Prime has grown and expanded. There are now over 3,500 farmer members in the scheme availing of the premium bonus paid to qualifying animals.
When it comes to taste and texture, Irish Hereford Prime guarantees a first-class eating experience every time, which in turn ensures a premium price for the Irish Hereford Prime beef producer.
The Hereford is a traditional, early maturing breed that utilises grass extremely efficiently and lays down fine grained fat within the muscle. This marbling delivers a superior flavour in the cooked beef.
Ireland has the longest grass growing season in Europe. It means Hereford Beef is natural, sustainable, low in saturated fat, high in vitamin B & vitamin E, high in minerals, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
The Ultra-Tender® is a patented process developed and patented by ABP Food Group. Drawing on 40 years of experience, this process combines a unique method of hanging the carcass, the chilling regime and electrical stimulation which is scientifically proven to increase tenderness and consistency.
Jean Denaux founded Denaux Viandes de Sélection in 1986. Born into a family that had been butchers and livestock breeders for several generations, Jean was immersed in a meat culture.
With his wife Roselyne and daughter Anaïs, they supply over 100 Michelin star restaurants throughout France with Irish Hereford Prime Beef. The company is a family operated one, a guarantee of strength and durability.
‘We employ 18 people in the company. We buy Irish Hereford Prime Beef through ABP,’ Jean explained.
‘I came to Ireland 20 years ago because I had heard of the Hereford breed. I met members of the Irish Hereford Breed society. They perfectly understood what I was looking for. ABP were more than happy to help us start our venture and here we are today. It is a real success story,’ Jean explained.
Denaux is expanding. To handle its continuing development, a new production site was built. This new unit for cutting meats integrates the highest level of hygiene standards as well as energy saving methods.
‘Each week, our prime Hereford beef depart for faraway destinations, making exports one of our fastest growing departments. We supply a number of countries worldwide; Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, Finland, Denmark, to as far as Japan, Thailand, Philippines and Dubai,’ said Jean.