People came from all corners of the country to the Tullamore Show on Sunday, but few travelled further than a group of breeders from Estonia. The group, made up of 17 Estonian Limousin breeders, was in Ireland for a five-day tour.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Diana Pearna, one of the breeders, said: “I visited Ireland five years ago and was very impressed with the quality of the stock. The cattle here are famous and if we want to be better we have to learn from the best.”
Diana explained that the suckler herd in Estonia is still very young and that the Limousin breed itself has only been in the country since 2000.
Pork is the main meat in Estonia and eating beef is a new experience to many Estonians.
Due to climatic conditions, most Estonian beef farmers sell their weanlings at 300kg to other EU countries, as well as Turkey, for finishing. Herefords are the most popular breed followed by Angus, Limousin, Simmental and Charolais.
“We have been amazed by the quality of the calves here,'’ Diana says. “For their age they are so well-grown. We have used a lot of genetics from continental Europe. Our first Limousins came from our Finnish neighbours.
“We want to widen this and include Ireland. Here, you grow more grass and do not use many other feeds. This is something we value and want to do. Many of us are interested in importing semen from Irish bulls.”
Most farmers are between 40 and 60 years old and there are problems getting young people interested
Diana says that in Estonia, herds have an average of 70 cows but there are also a lot of hobby farmers with only a handful of cows. Most farmers are between 40 and 60 years old and there are problems getting young people interested.
“We have been very impressed by all the young handlers here today [at Tullamore]. It is a great way to get children interested. Most young people in Estonia just want to work in IT and the only muscle they develop is their finger,” Diana laughs.
The group will also visit the ICBF Tully Progeny Test Centre and four pedigree herds during their visit.