by | Nov 7, 2022

Northern Irish Simmental breeder Norman Robson of Doagh, Ballyclare, Co Antrim, has been announced as the new President of the British Simmental Cattle Society. Mr Robson who was elected following the Society’s recent AGM held in Stirling, takes over the reins from Stewart Stronach, Maisley, Keith, following the completion of Mr. Stronach’s two-year term of office.

Steeped in Simmental history, Norman Robson becomes the third member of the Robson family to serve as BSCS President with his father Billy being President in 1985-1986, and 1999-2000; and his brother Michael holding the office between 2011-2012. Norman and his wife Jill, a native of Scotland, have two children. Charlotte 21 is a fourth-year medical student in Edinburgh, whilst son Angus 19, is in his second year of an agricultural degree at Queens University, Belfast.

Operating as a family partnership, Kilbride Farm is a traditional mixed farm and with a 300-sow birth to bacon single site pig unit being a backbone, and alongside the pedigree Simmentals.

The Kilbride Farm Simmental herd, now consisting of 90-100 Simmental cows, is one of the most recognisable names in the pedigree beef sector, with a highlight reel track record of selling bulls and Simmental genetics through home and Society Sales to pedigree breeders and commercial producers in the UK and to international markets. The herd was established in 1971 with four heifers from the first importation into Northern Ireland. From the farm growing cereals, carrying a suckler herd and a sheep enterprise, the land-based operations consolidated into a pedigree Simmental herd only as the Robsons recognised the performance, fertility, docility and profitability that the breed was giving them.

Over the years the Kilbride Farm herd has attained a mighty seven Supreme Championships at the Perth and Stirling Sales and whilst regularly attaining five figure prices. The majority of bulls in a typical year are sold privately off farm to buyers in the UK and Ireland. Kilbride Farm genetics have been exported in the early years to North America, Australia and New Zealand whilst more recently it has been ‘coals to Newcastle’, with the herd exporting semen and stock back to the breed’s homeland countries of Austria and Switzerland. The Kilbride Farm has always aimed to grow fleshy cattle with a moderate mature weight, and with stock bulls used to add uniformity. Over recent years the herd has introduced the polled gene with 70-80% of the cows now carrying polled genetics whilst retaining Kilbride Farm’s traditional qualities.

Commenting, Norman Robson said: “It is a huge honour and a privilege to be elected as the 27th President of the British Simmental Cattle Society, and to be the sixth breeder from Northern Ireland to hold this office. With a motivated membership and Council, I hope to lead a Society that offers value and assistance through practical breeding tools to all breeders, and positively promotes British Simmental to every industry level. Over the last two years we have seen some record sale averages for the Simmental breed, some successful new fixtures, and an increase in pedigree registrations. It is very much a further aim that we can continue to build on this base and to grow the reach of the breed into all areas of the UK.”

Continuing, Mr Robson went on to say: “The Society will look to build on the performance benefits the Simmental breed offers all types of farming systems. No other breed has the flexibility of the Simmental, from crossing on a Luing type cow on the hill, to high output lowland suckler herds, and as a crossing sire onto the dairy herd. As breeders if we can collectively continue to provide the genetics for a profitable, sustainable forward beef industry, I feel there is a bright future for British Simmental.”

Following his election, one of Norman Robson’s first Simmental fixtures as Society President will be the second staging of the Next Generation Sale of Simmental Females and Weaned Calves at Harrison & Hetherington’s Borderway Mart, Carlisle on Friday December 2nd where there are three Kilbride Farm entries amongst the 66 head entered.