Irish Farmers Journal Heifer & Hogget Competition U14 Winner

Owen McGinley, Creeselough Donegal, is a successful contestant of the Irish Farmers Journal Heifer and Hoggot Competition which took place at the Tullamore Show in August of 2013. He was the luckywinner of the Aubrac Crossbred heifer sponsored by the Society and bred by Mr Francis Donohoe of Johnstown Aubracs, Collinstown, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

The Breed Societies of Ireland and the Farmers Journal run this competition to raise awareness of Ireland’s upcoming farmers, by granting them the opportunity to start their own herd, by winning a heifer or winning a hogget to start their own flock.


Owen is the second young farmer to win an Aubrac Heifer , with Catherina Cunnane winning the first sponsored heifer in 2011 and Eoin Cooper becoming the latest winner of the Aubrac Heifer in this competition in 2014.

Introducing the Aubrac Breed to the Hills Of Donegal.

My name Owen McGinley, age 14 from a small village in the north of Donegal, called Creeslough. In 2013 myself & my mum read an article in the Farmers Journal about the Heifer & Hogget competition for young Irish Farmers. My mum suggested I should enter but I was reluctant as I didn’t think I stood a chance! Eventually I plucked up the courage to write an article as entry for the competition. It included description of our farm, our breeding programme etc. We had both forgot completely about it until one day we got a call saying I was picked as a finalist! To say I was shocked was an understatement! We were invited along to the Tullamore Show, Co. Offaly, where I was told I would be interviewed individually by a panel of expert judges! I was ridiculously nervous & even more so when I heard that other boys that were also finalists had huge farms,numbers! I on the other hand had a small modest farm, worked by myself & my mum!

After I had been interviewed by several judges, we had an opportunity to go & enjoy the show.


Owen impressing one of the Judges- Ernest Mackey with his knowledge!



I went straight to the Heifers & Hoggets that were penned as the prizes for the winners. Straight of, the Aubrac caught my eye, even though I wasn’t familiar with the breed, she was a beautiful animal & everything I look for in a heifer!

Maisey, at the Tullamore Show

Maisey, at the Tullamore Show.

At 2 pm we were called back to the stage. The judges had made their decision. Again I thought I didn’t stand a chance, then the U 14 winner was announced & it was ME!!! If that wasn’t a big enough shock I drew the Aubrac heifer as my prize! That was definitely the cherry on top! The rest of that day was a blur!


Owen( middle) pictured with Nathan Tuffy (Journalist, Irish Farmers Journal) and Ernest Mackey( Irish Aubrac Society)

Since the day we took Maisey up to the hills of Donegal, we have never looked back! She fitted into our herd perfectly like she was there from a calf! We had hoped to get Maisey ai’d to an Aubrac but unfortunately things didn’t go to plan on that score, but all was not lost as we got her in calf to our Pedigree charolais stockbull & she is due to calf in the coming weeks!


Maisey happily settling in The Hills!


She maintained herself extremely well over the harsh Donegal winter & is in tip top condition now & even showing a nice udder. At the feeder she loves nothing more than a nice pet & scratch! I am so excited & cannot wait for her to calf! I am hopeful all will go well & she’ll be a great mammy!
Hopefully next year I’ll get Maisey in calf to an Aubrac. They are not a very common breed up here, but what I’ve seen of the breed so far I definitely hope to continue breeding Aubracs!
I am currently in 3rd year at St. Eunans College & about to sit my Junior Cert this summer. Last summer I attended DCU to study Veterinary Science as this would be my dream job. In my senior cycle at school I have already chosen my subjects to study Veterinary. Fingers crossed!

Update- Maisey has since calved down with a super heifer calf!