As Shanon Kinahan and Martin Merrick report in this week’s pedigree section, crowds in their thousands flocked to the annual winter fair in Carrick-on-Shannon.

While the €21,500 price tag for a Belgian Blue heifer has grabbed all the headlines, the following that this high-end commercial cattle production has shouldn’t be ignored.

Many of these cattle are produced on small, part-time suckler farms in the west of Ireland and form the backbone of rural Ireland.

Seeing young people, many of them female, getting involved in looking after animals should be welcomed.

Common ground needed

Tensions were high at Tuesday’s Suckler meeting with ICBF and Teagasc in Carrick-on-Shannon.

ICBF CEO Sean Coughlan pointed out on Tuesday night that suckler farmers have already done some of the heavier lifting in terms of reducing slaughter age over the last five years.

There is a genuine worry that bulls used during the 2023 breeding season will not produce enough 4 or 5 star heifers for the final years of the draconian Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP).

Surely ICBF and the Department must revise the required scheme thresholds for 4 and 5 star heifers in light of the changes to sire ratings this week.