Students get chance to beef up projects

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney launched the Angus science competition, with from left, Padraig Foley, Tim Dunne, Paul Matthews, Jonathan Forbes, Charles Smith and Liz Moynihan.

Q&A: Charles Smith
Irish Aberdeen-Angus Producers Ltd, with partners ABP and Kepak, has invited transition year students to apply to participate in a project which can form part of their Leaving Certificate agricultural science project.

Students can apply in groups of two, three or four.

Four groups will be chosen as finalists, and will win five Angus cross calves, each worth €2,000. The schools will receive a trophy, and the class teacher will win an iPad.

One of the four groups will be the ultimate winner and get an additional prize, to be determined, but worth €2,000, says Irish Aberdeen-Angus Producers general manager Charles Smith.

¦ What and who is Certified Irish Angus Beef?

>> Certified Irish Angus beef is one of the few integrated beef-production systems in Ireland today. It incorporates a large grouping of farmers who get paid a premium price for producing cattle suitable for the Certified Irish Angus Beef scheme, which are processed in ABP and Kepak for the top Irish and European retailers and beef outlets.

In an effort to encourage and promote the breeding of Angus cattle and to increase awareness among consumers of this superior product, this grouping has now come together to encourage enthusiastic and ambitious students with an interest in agriculture to participate in this unique challenge which can also form part of the Leaving Certificate agriculture science project and benefit themselves and their teachers with substantial prizes.

¦ What is the first step for students wishing to take part in the project?

>> Current transition year groups are invited to make an initial application to this competition by way of a 200-word proposal on the production, processing, and marketing of Certified Irish Angus beef from birth through to end consumer. The proposal may include details on how Certified Irish Angus beef enhances the carbon footprint, eating quality, processing techniques to enhance eating quality, consumer research, quality assurance and traceability, certification, or market development and branding.

¦ What is the deadline to get involved?

>> The closing date for receipt of applications is Friday, March 7, 2014. Applications may only be made to via email.

¦ What is the next step?

>> A shortlist of applicants will then be invited to attend for interview and make a presentation to Irish Aberdeen-Angus Producers Ltd, ABP, and Kepak, on their proposed project.

This project could be suitable for inclusion in students’ Leaving Certificate agricultural science projects.

¦ How many students will go on to the later stages of the project?

>> Four successful groups will be selected as a result of the interview and the students involved will receive five Angus Cross calves per group.

The calves will be presented to the students at the National Ploughing Championships in September 2014.

At this stage, the calves will be five-six months old. These calves must then be reared through the full production system and slaughtered less than 24 months of age in either ABP or Kepak meat plants.

The organisers of the competition arrange a farm on which the calves will be reared to slaughter, or the students may propose one of the following options — arrange to have a farmer in the selected group’s locality rear the calves; or calves could be reared on a farm of the winning students.

The organisers will have the final say in whether either of these options can be used. Students will have full access to the calves in either option. They will also have access to visit the processing plants and gain an under-standing of the processing of the animals right through to retail packing.

¦ When will the overall winner be known?

>> At the end of the production cycle of these animals, which is expected to be from December 2015 to March 2016, each of the four groups will be assessed on the basis of their understanding of the entire production system. One of the four groups will be selected as the overall winner.

The winning group will receive a trophy for their school and the students will receive a prize of (prize to be determined) in addition to the value of the calves they received at the beginning.

¦ What are the details needed by March 7 in the application?

>> For a full set of rules, terms and conditions, visit the website. Interested groups of students should send their 200-word proposal to by email, no later than Friday, March 7, 2014.

Along with the proposal, include the following — names, addresses, dates of birth, emails, and phone numbers of each student in your group; name of your school; and name, address, email; and phone number of your teacher.


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