Philip Crowe (left) with Stephen Lyons from Univet with his bull Powerful Umoero winner of the March 2023 or younger bull calf class at the North Eastern Limousin Championships.

‘My main love is Limousins’

Despite being one of the best-known Limousin farmers in the country, Philip Crowe also manages to run two other enterprises - pigs and pedigree blue texel sheep alongside his pedigree cattle.

The Ballinagh man proved his credential yet again with his bull Powerful Umoero winning a class at North Eastern Limousin Championships. Another show, another rosette.

Philip points to major sales as key for his herd recognition.

“I sold a bull to National Cattle Breeding Centre (NCBC), called Powerful Proper in 2020 that’s one of the most used bulls in Ireland.

“I also sold Powerful Irish, to Scottish breeder Martin Irvine in 2014 which is very well known in the UK, and also sold a bull called Neptune RR to France where it is among the French Limousin sires. These all helped to give the profile of the herd a massive boost.

“Pigs are my main source of income because although they can be volatile, they provide a steady cash flow, with an income every week, but my main love is Limousins.”

Philip says that because Limousins are so easily managed they are the ideal cow to accompany another enterprise, or even someone who is working largely away from the farm.

“As I’m usually busy with pigs, I didn’t want hard-calving cows, so Limousin is an ideal breed. I had two cows calve last week, without any help, we don’t even have a jack on the farm. They are good milkers, hardy, and could be left outside 365 days of the year, the most effective converters of feed to meat and the lowest producers of methane and carbon of any breed. Of the 800,000 sucklers in the country, half of them are limousins,” Philip enthuses.

He says that sheep, pigs and cattle enterprises can complement each other from both a financial and practical point of view if they are run side by side.

“I sell 25% of my bulls at pedigree sales in the autumn and the remainder in sales in the spring. I keep most of my heifers for replacements but sell some cows to other farmers for breeding in the spring.

“Summer is quiet for cattle sales, but selling ewes from July to September gives a good income. Pig prices were brutally bad, but are not too bad now. I can spread pig slurry on land throughout the year, which is great for grass growth so I only have to buy 1.5 tonnes of chemical nitrogen per year.”

When asked if he would consider a switch to dairy farming Philip says he is happy to stay with his current format.

“The farm is too fragmented to go into dairy farming anyway so it wouldn’t work. I’m happy to try and maximise my potential on my current farm.”