2024 Certified Irish Angus Schools Competition Winners

Winners Dunshaughlin Community College impress with carbon footprint reductions and lower than national average CO2 emissions raising Angus calves.

On Friday 1st March 2024, four students from Dunshaughlin Community College, Co. Meath were announced as the overall winners of the 2024 Certified Irish Angus School’s Competition at an awards ceremony in Croke Park. Students Eoin O’Sullivan, Eric Allen, Liam Byrne, and David Malone secured the win after impressing the judges with their data-led approach to the prestigious cattle-rearing competition, which is now in its tenth year.

The winning group from Dunshaughlin in County Meath undertook a research project exploring “A Holistic Approach to Improving Animal Performance”. Working alongside agri-science and nutrition innovators, Alltech, the students assessed their calves to predict their lifetime carbon footprint. They were able to predict an outcome for their calves of 8.5kg CO2 per kg beef which is a substantial 3.25kg CO2 per kg beef less than the national average of farmers who avail of this service. They achieved this result by conducting on-farm trials, soil analysis and using supplements in the animal diets. The team also made sure to involve their school community in their competition experience. They developed and circulated a monthly newsletter in which updates were shared about the calves’ progress which was greatly received.

Announcing the winners, General Manager of Certified Irish Angus, Charles Smith said; “The Dunshaughlin Community College students’ investigation of soil health was very impressive. There were high levels of molybdenum in the fields where the students were raising their calves. This could lead to poor weight gain and could impact the response to vaccines. The students counteracted these risks by supplementing with an Allsure calf bolus and a garlic lick block. Through resourcing and assigning every stage of the production cycle, the boys were able to sustainably improve the performance from grass with limited supplementary feeding, and achieved a 3.25kg reduction on CO2 emissions per Kg beef than our national average which is a considerable feat”.

The team at Kepak had a fantastic day celebrating the success of all participants and truly value our partnership with this prestigious initiative. It inspires young people to consider a career in agriculture, gain personal development skills, and support the production and consumption of world-class, quality Angus beef!

About the competition
The Certified Irish Angus Schools’ competition in association with meat processors Kepak and ABP, challenges students to rear five Irish Angus calves for beef production for two years. It aims to promote the Certified Irish Angus brand while communicating the care and attention required to produce quality beef for consumers. The number of students applying continues to grow each year with nearly 520 students from rural and urban backgrounds applying from 24 counties in 2023.

Runners Up
The runners up in the 2024 competition were Sinéad Bracken, Chloe McDermott, Trása Bracken, and Mary Ellen Colton from Mercy Secondary School Kilbeggan, Co. Meath. The students researched the topic “Exploring the Opportunities of Low Carbon Beef” and created a five-point plan covering all aspects of the animals’ journey from farm to fork. The group also fundraised over €4,000 for Crumlin Children’s Hospital in a raffle as part of their project.

Outstanding Achievement by an Individual Award
Gráinne Callanan from Ursuline Secondary School Thurles, Co. Tipperary received an outstanding achievement awarding her contribution to the competition. The judges said “Gráinne showed exceptional ability as a communicator. She captured the attention of the audiences she addressed with confidence. Most notable was her address to MEP’s in the European Parliament visit. Her ability to explain the disconnect between the data on farm accidents that exists between member states caught the attention of all attendees”.

Competition Growth
The Certified Irish Angus Schools Competition is celebrating its tenth year in 2024 with over 520 students from 24 counties applying to compete. Farming experts are currently judging the next batch of potential entrants from a pool of 43 shortlisted schools. Five finalist groups will be selected. The judges include representatives from right across the agri-food industry Kepak, ABP, Tesco, Bord Bia, Dromoland Castle, Dovea Genetics, O’Brien Fine Foods, IASTA, IFA and Macra na Feirme. The five schools that best demonstrate an understanding of the competition, along with innovative project ideas will be announced later this year at the National Ploughing Championships in September.

On completion of the project, each of the finalists receives the financial benefit involved in the selling of the animals to the processors which amounted to an average €7,500. The winning students also receive an additional grant of €1,000 for their further education.

For further information on the projects visit www.certifiedirishangus.ie/certified-irish-angus-schools-competition/ 
For more on our agricultural initiatives, visit: AGRICULTURE – Kepak


Read More