Students from secondary schools in Meath, Dublin, Cork, Tipperary and Westmeath, received the calves they will rear as part of the Certified Irish Angus Schools Competition at the National Ploughing Championships on Wednesday.

They will take them home the Irish Angus-cross calves and rear them for 18 months as part of the competition.

The Certified Irish Angus Schools Competition, run by Certified Irish Angus and its processor partners, ABP and Kepak, aims to encourage second-level students to gain an understanding of the considerable care and attention that is required to produce and market the highest-quality beef for consumers.

The five schools were: Dunshaughlin Community College, Co Meath; Manor House School, Raheny, Co Dublin; St Colman’s College, Fermoy, Co Cork; Ursuline Secondary School, Thurles, Co Tipperary; and Mercy Secondary School, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath.

They were narrowed down from 140 entries after a competitive, multi-stage interview process earlier this year.

In addition to rearing the calves, the schools will complete a project focusing on a different aspect of farming, the food chain and sustainability. This year’s projects include:

Dunshaughlin Community College

Eoin O'Sullivan, Liam Byrne, David Malone and Eric Allen.

The Dunshaughlin Community College students will explore the theme “A holistic approach to improving animal performance” and will address the use of natural resources, grass, and breeding to improve sustainability.

Manor House School

Aisling Gallagher and Caoilinn Ní Shúilleabháin

The Manor House School students will research the theme “Meeting Consumer expectations on sustainable beef production” which will explore why it is important for farmers to connect with consumers and tell the story of family farming.

St Colman’s College

Cathal McAuliffe, Darragh Morrison, Kian O'Donoghue and Diarmuid O'Donovan.

The St Colman’s College students will focus on the theme of “Researching the benefits of Farm Biodiversity”.

They will do this by exploring the environmental challenges facing farmers of the future and researching the balance of technology improvement with beef farming tradition.

Ursuline Secondary School

Rebekah Smith, Kaitlyn Ryan, Gráinne Callanan and Evie Smyth.

The Ursuline Secondary School students will explore the theme “Health and Safety on Beef Farms” which will investigate how a farmer’s physical and mental health can be affected, both positively and negatively, by their way of life.

Mercy Secondary School

Sinéad Bracken, Chloe McDermott, Trása Bracken and Mary Ellen Colton.

The Mercy Secondary School students have the theme of “Exploring the opportunities of low-carbon beef”.

They will demonstrate how Irish farmers can produce the most sustainable beef by following the Certified Irish Angus five-point plan while also educating consumers and farmers about carbon sequestration on farms.

Each of the finalists will receive the financial benefit involved in the selling of the animals to the processors on completion of the project. The winning students also receive an additional grant of €2,000 for their further education.