What’s your background?

I grew up on the family farm, based in Londonderry in mid-Ulster. When I was younger, my father, William, unfortunately experienced a stroke so the farm was let out during this time.

In 1986, my father bought one Limousin cow, Ballysorrell Suzanna, which was our first foundation female. At the beginning, we mostly worked with commercial cows and built up the pedigree side of it slowly.

At 16, I left to go to the College of Agriculture Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) at the Greenmount campus, before returning home in 1996, where my father and I again looked at building up stock on the farm.

My father and I knew what we wanted and our hard work and determination has resulted in the herd now sitting at 120 pedigree cows plus followers.

What got you into breeding Limousins?

Both my father and I had a liking for the breed and they were more attractive for their sellable aspect. Limousins can be sold at all stages, whether that be as stores, fattening or for breeding. They demand the top prices at most sales, both in the commercial world and pedigree ring, as well as being able to suit any market.

What qualities do you like about the breeds that you work with?

Limousins are easy calving and easy fleshed, with both bulls and females maintaining great style and shape throughout their lives.

What was your first big breed sale or show?

The first big sale would be at Carlisle, in February, 2007. Ampertaine Abracadabra stood as reserve junior champion and sold for 29,000gns, which we were delighted about considering he was our first bull sold through the ring at a major breed sale, with all our other bulls being privately sold beforehand.

That was the first big sale the herd had experienced and following our success, we started to go to Carlisle every sale following that.

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

We have bred a lot of good bulls that have gone on to produce top quality stock so it’s difficult to narrow it down.

However, there are two I would have to mention. First, would be Ampertaine Gigolo, as he is the sire of the 140,000gns world record-priced Limousin bull, Trueman Jagger, which was sold at Carlisle in October, 2015.

The second is Ampertaine Elgin, which is responsible for breeding the world record-priced Limousin heifer at 250,000gns in the form of Wilodge Poshspice, sold at Carlisle, in January.

These are two of some of the most influential cattle we have ever bred and producing the two highest priced cattle to be sold within the UK.

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

This is another hard question to answer as there are so many I could mention – again, two stick in my mind.

The first would be the Limousin heifer, Wilodge Diamante, for her great style and character – an all round lovely female.

The second would be a bought-in bull from France called Sympa. I saw him as a young bull at Haltcliffe and he was a serious animal. I was so impressed with his shape and style that I bought semen from him, which has left an influential mark on our herd.

Best animal you’ve missed out on or lost?

With livestock comes dead stock so we tend not to dwell on losses and there's always a better calf coming behind to take your mind off of it.

Biggest disappointment in your career?

I don’t recall having any majorly disappointing moments, but if I do I tend not to dwell on them. When I go to a sale, I always go with a realistic price in my head and seem to come away with more than I imagined – as long as the cattle are getting a reasonable price, I’m happy.

Most influential person in your career?

I would have to say my father, William, as he has always supported me along the way. He is a very good judge of a beast in my opinion and his modern thinking has always allowed him to keep commercial attributes within the herd.

He can see potential in a beast, even when it’s not looking it’s best and he has been a guiding hand throughout my life – on and off the farm.

What’s been your favourite sale over the years and why?

One sale sticks in my mind – the May sale at Carlisle, in 2017. We had 22 cattle at that sale and we averaged £9459 – just a great day all round!

Carlisle is the main sale that our cattle are geared up for and to be able to come away with an average like that was an achievement in itself.

Your choice of best breeder ever?

There are a lot of fantastic breeders I could mention, however, there are three herds in particular that I looked up to when we started taking cattle to Carlisle – Haltcliffe, Wilodge and Goldies.

These three herds all had the quality of cattle that I was looking to match and they were the herds you wanted to be like.

Best and worse advice you’ve ever received?

The best would be when my father and I were looking to pick out an AI bull and dad’s advice to me was to select a bull that had as many good cow families on both sides of it’s pedigree, which has definitely led to breeding more consistency in the herd.

In terms of bad advice, there’s no such thing. If someone tells you something and it’s not right, then you know you’ve learnt something – you learn not to listen to it!

Biggest achievement?

I would say building up the herd to what it is today as it’s taken a lot of time and quality genetics to get us to where we are currently.

The plan was to always have a profitable business and I feel we have achieved that – if it's not making money it’s no use.

Any interests outwith farming?

Running a busy farm and having a young family means I don’t have a lot of spare time but any that I do is spent with my family.

What’s the future of the breed?

I think the future is looking fantastic! There are enough people within the Limousin world to keep the breed popular, with many farmers still moving away from other breeds and choosing the Limousin.

All Limousin cattle are in demand, especially breeding heifers and when you look at the price of commercial cattle going through our markets, the future has never looked better than it does right now.