One that has outdone himself on the show circuit this year is Steven O’Kane of his own Keadyview Cattle Grooming business, having bagged several championships at all the National Shows and various local shows.

What’s your background?

I was brought up in Northern Ireland with Charolais cattle as my father was stockman at Tybern Charolais for the late Bryan Mullan, and from there we established our own Keadyview herd, so it has always been in my blood.

I then got involved with what was then Belgian Blues for Andrew Craig, of Woodview Blues, and subsequently into the Limousin breed, at which point I began my freelance stockman business, Keadyview Cattle Grooming.

I now farm in mid-Wales with my fiancé Helen and daughter, Cerys, where we also run a cattle livery service and pedigree consultancy, alongside the cattle grooming which Helen is very much involved in, for continental, native and commercial cattle.

We love getting new challenges along the way and would grab any opportunity that comes our way.

Why did you start up your freelance business?

We were approached frequently by other breeders and exhibitors for help to prepare cattle so we felt there was a demand for a service that we were able to offer both in Ireland and across the water.

What is it you are looking for in an animal?

Breed characteristics, top and bottom line, mobility, style and presence all have to be there for any show animal that is going to do well.

Chosen breed’s place in the commercial market?

We are involved in many different breeds, so it is difficult to pick just one. Each has their own merits depending on what type of enterprise or end market you have. However you need to remember the commercial market is the end game.

If you had to choose another breed to go into what would it be?

I have always been involved in continental cattle, such as Charolais, British Blues and Limousins, and will continue to be, however in more recent years we have been drawn towards the Hereford, establishing our own herd of Keadyview Herefords. They are a more docile breed, allowing them to be easier handled and show strong marbling qualities through the commercial game.

What got you involved in showing to start with?

My father, Barney O’Kane and the late Sam Milliken. I would travel to all the shows and sales with them as a wee boy.

Best Highland Show achievements?

It would have to be this year, helping to win the native inter-breed with Moralee 1 Rebel Kicks. Another that will always stick in my mind is when I was part of the Alford team that brought out Foxhill Gracie which stood champion in 2013.

Biggest showing achievement?

Winning the inter-breed at Balmoral Show in 2006 and 2007 with Carmon Voney, there was certainly some big celebrations those days …

Which was the best animal that you’ve ever shown?

That’s a hard question as there has been a few, but I would have to say Moralee 1 Rebel Kicks, the Hereford bull, as he was just an outstanding type that you really could not look by.

That said, I will always be proud of what I achieved with my own home-bred British Blue heifer, Keadyview Gorgeous. She was junior champion at the Balmoral in 2013 along with various other local wins.

But what was the best animal that you’d ever seen?

Woodview Sue – this Blue was shown at the Royal Highland Show in 2005 and 2006 and claimed the championship both times. She really caught the eye as soon as she entered Ingliston.

Abiding memory?

Sam Milliken told me when I was a 21-year-old that I would have to buy his brand new lorry some day. Ten years on I did.

Biggest disappointment?

Not winning the British Blue championship at the Balmoral Show with Keadyview Gorgeous when I should have!

Most influential person in your career?

My father, Barney O’Kane, a true legend. He was the one that got me started in this career and is always there for advice – what he doesn’t know isn’t worth knowing.

Your choice of best stockman ever?

Cyril Millar, Glenleary Charolais, as he has won more Charolais championships than anyone. I learnt a lot from him in my younger days, watching him whilst helping out with my father.

He is a man of many talents and is an all-round stockman also running pigs, sheep and dairy.

Favourite quote?

Stop panicking and get on with it!

If you could change one thing, what would it be?

To have my father living closer to me.

Best investment?

Setting up our Hereford herd. We are currently running six cows, although are continuously expanding this as we speak. It is a no brainer to move to the native type, they are easy fleshed and have a nice nature to work with the kids, they also suit our farming system here.

Helen has got to be my best investment, though – she is the grafter in the business. She is the backbone for me and we are set to get married next September after the delay with Covid-19.

Best advice for someone starting off in the industry?

Expensive cattle don’t make the best cattle, be sure to use your eyes!

Has stockmen ship taken you overseas anywhere?

Yes, on a consultancy basis sourcing genetics for customers.

Are you involved in any committees or have any hobbies out with your career?

I don’t have a lot of time for either, I am one busy man!

Could you imagine your life without showing?

No! We were forced to try it during Covid-19 last year and I didn’t like it! I am glad we have got back to some form of normality this year and here’s for even more next year!

The future of the showing circuit?

The shows are here to stay, but the type of cattle shown is changing.

The power and presence of native cattle is increasing and it is time we all move with the times.

We have had one hell of a good show season this year and long may it continue!