2017 winner Bryan Wilson


Bryan Wilson

Glenarm Castle Estate, Co. Antrim

As farm manager at Glenarm Estate Bryan has been instrumental in turning the beef enterprise around.

This involved switching from intensive farming to a lower input organic model, introducing a finishing enterprise and adding value by the development of a high quality brand.

Beef Shorthorn was the breed of choice as Bryan found them to be both maternal for herd replacement and but also can be economically finished to produce marbled meat of the highest quality and taste.

Beef Shorthorn genetics were introduced and the continental cows upgraded enabling a closed herd to be maintained.

The remote location of the estate meant opening a farm shop was not an option nor were there any in-house butchery or meat processing skills so a marketing partnership was formed with Hannan Meats, based in Northern Ireland.

The Glenarm brand was established and beef is now supplied to leading chefs and restaurants.

Producer group

Demand for Glenarm beef quickly outstripped supply so a producer group for finishers has been set up, enabling others within the province to benefit by having a premium outlet for their product.

In 2016, 70 members produced 1,000 cattle with growth approximately 100 cattle year on year.

All the producers have to meet a strict criteria and cattle are assessed pre-slaughter by the scheme’s co-ordinator to ensure the animal is of sufficient quality to command the premium. Once finished the beef is dry aged for a minimum of 28 days.

The new lower input system has bought huge benefits to Glenarm Estate.

Using a native breed has enabled them to reduce costs, improve performance and add value.

With an expanding market for a niche product and by dealing directly with the customer Bryan believes the scheme can be grown much further and attract more farmers giving them some security in uncertain times.

On winning the award, Bryan said: I’m delighted to have received this award. It’s great to be recognised within the industry. I’m so passionate about what I do and it’s s hell of an atmosphere tonight.

The judges said about Bryan: Judges said he had developed strong partnerships with other farmers and processors. With careful execution of quality control, there is room for expansion of this already well-established beef business, which has provided new opportunities for other farmers in the region.