Bryan strikes Gold at British Farming Awards for innovation

Bryan Wilson (Centre) pictured at the British Farming Awards with Emma Penny, Briefing Media Agriculture and Richard Phelps, ABP Food Group.
Bryan Wilson (Centre) pictured at the British Farming Awards with Emma Penny, Briefing Media Agriculture and Richard Phelps, ABP Food Group.

Glenarm beef farmer Bryan Wilson is celebrating striking ‘Gold’ at the prestigious British Farming Awards 2017.

Bryan, of Glenarm Castle Estate, won Gold in the ‘Beef Innovator of the Year’ category, sponsored by ABP Food Group, in which Charlotte Shipley, of Field and Forage, East Yorkshire, took silver.

The local man is, however, is no stranger to top accolades.

He recently won NI Beef Farmer of the Year at the Farming Life Awards.

He picked up his latest title and trophy at the National Conference Centre, Birmingham, recently where the winners of the 2017 British Farming Awards were revealed at a glittering awards ceremony.

More than 700 farmers and industry professionals attended the event, which showcased the innovation and achievements of farmers across the agricultural industry.

Organised by Briefing Media, parent company of Farmers Guardian, Dairy Farmer and Arable Farming, the awards welcomed a record number of entries from across farming’s core sectors.

The judges said Brian 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’.

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.

Demand for Glenarm beef quickly outstripped supply so a producer group for finishers was 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.