It might not be the most glamorous of pastimes but teenage years built on living, working and exhibiting any type of cattle can prove hugely rewarding for both sexes in determining a future career.

For Ruth Hamill, who has seen much of the UK and parts of France through the Limousin Young Breeders' Club, it has helped enable her to pursue a career in veterinary medicine at the University of Nottingham.

The 19-year-old from Northern Ireland has been a member of the club for a good seven years and first took the membership by storm when she and her younger brother Andrew, won the junior Limousin stockjudging at the Devon County Show for their first year competing, in 2012.

Two years later, Ruth went on to win the Young Handler's competition in the Northern Ireland Limousin calf show exhibiting Cahir McAuley's Larkhill Istabraq, which two hours later, she brought out to land the overall male championship.

And, in 2015, Ruth went straight to the top to win supreme junior at Cheshire Show's stockjudging competition.

However, after several top wins in stockjudging and showmanship competitions, her biggest achievement is leading Co Tyrone breeder, Keiran McCroy's massive bull, Bernish Memphis, round the ring at Harrison and Hetherington's Borderway Mart in 2018, before he was knocked down for 22,000gns, selling jointly to Gareth Lee and Tony Booth, Sheffield.

Outwith the long hours, hard work and patience bringing out show cattle and giving reasons in stockjudging competitions, Ruth has also gained a vast amount of experience working with people as secretary of the Young Limousin Breeders' Club, during which time she sourced a huge amount of sponsorship for various club events.

Having that natural 'kenning' ability and confidence to work with people and animals hasn't gone unnoticed either, to such an extent that she was invited to go and stay with the Lasternas family – owners of the successful 200-cow Lasternas herd in the Dordogne region of south west France – to see Limousin cattle in their native homeland.

"We always had Limousin cattle when we were growing up and they're such a versatile breed, being easy to work with and good milky females that produce fast growing, shapey calves," said Ruth, whose family own the Cloverdale herd from Dunmurray Belfast.

Living and working with cattle in France for a month gave her an even bigger insight into the breed too.

The Scottish Farmer:

"I do think we could learn a lot from the French as their cows and first calving heifers are really milky.

The Lasternas herd has the balance between increased muscle and milk spot on and they showed a superb degree of calving ease," said Ruth, who assisted with calving and all show preparation work during her stay.

Such is her enthusiasm for the breed, she also believes that not enough research has been done on the improved efficiency of the Limousin, when they can be finished quicker and at a younger age thereby with reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Now in her second year at university, Ruth remains extremely grateful for her six years attending Limousin Young Breeders, which she believes has made her a stronger person and helped pave her way into veterinary.

"Showing cattle and doing stockjudging is so rewarding especially when you're a female as you can prove people wrong.

"I have seen people looking at me and thinking, 'you'll never be able to show that animal,' but it makes you more determined to do it and you can work with any type or size of animal if you just give it time. Just never show your fear because animals sense fear and will automatically play up."

Reason giving for stockjudging competitions has also given her additional confidence for interviews, which she also believes helped ensure her a place at university.

And, having already spent time abroad, Ruth hopes to further extend her career by doing some of her course work in Europe or further afield.

So, while young cattle breeders' clubs and associations might appear to be nothing more than a weekend hobby or get together, stick in and, as the saying goes ... 'the world is your oyster'.