The original Crawford brothers, William and Herbie Crawford decided to create the firm in 1971, showing Pedigree Shorthorn and British Friesian, winning a number of championships at the RDS , RUAS and local shows, including Baileys (All Ireland cow championship). A number of later years, they decided to go their own way. William took over the dairy herd and Herbie took over the beef and pig enterprise. Herbie was a champion breeder of Shorthorn cattle and large white and white landrace pigs, while William was an enthusicated Diary man.
Herbie's sons, Raymond and Stephen, the new generation of Crawford Brothers, were next to take over the firm.
Based in Country Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, Crawford Brothers is one of the world’s leading breeders and producers of Limousin Cattle. Their Rathkeeland herd was founded in 1980 with the importation of two Limousin females"Pelisse" and "Ombrage" from the Pompadour herd in France.
Going back to 2005, things started to take a different turn from the conventional farming routine. Crawford Brothers’ Rathkeeland and Newlittlemount herds started exporting the first consignment of Limousin and Belgian blue embryos into the Republic of Ireland from their base in Maguiresbridge, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
The Crawford’s took the order for 150 Limousin and 50 Belgian Blue embryo’s, from 3 breeders in the south, in the early summer of 2005. At that time it was thought to be the biggest order of embryos from any one herd in the UK and Ireland and it was facilitated by Genus Breeding's Embryo Transfer Service.
The Belgian Blue embryos were from the only cow in the Rathkeeland herd, the much admired Wilodge Ofleur. Wilodge Ulex, a son of Wilodge Ofleur, who was Champion Belgian Blue at many shows in 2005, including the Royal Welsh.
The dams of the Limousin embryos include Nicose, dam of the first prize winning young bull at the Royal Highland Show and Oie, the dam of Newlittlemount Ulsterman, first prize winner at the Royal Highland and Welsh Shows. Dams also boast world famous Jersey bloodlines, present in only 12 females in the UK, 5 of which were part of the Crawford Brothers herd. At that time Jersey sired the world record priced bull Grahams Samson which sold for 55,000 gns at Carlisle in February 2003.
One of the sires of the Limousin embryos is the Rathkeeland stock bull Omis B, winning over purchasers of the embryos with some impressive progeny at the calf show in September.
The embryo order was a great seal of approval for the herd on the back of their successes at the Royal Ulster, Royal Highland and Royal Welsh shows that year. The herd won the award for ‘Best large herd’ at the Northern Ireland Limousin Club 2005 Herd Competition in September, along with ‘Best stock bull’ and ‘Best junior bull’.
The Crawford’s also received an order for embryos to export to Canada that was sealed on a trip last in 2005. This took place in 2006 when they flushed the show winning cow Millbrook Senhorita. Stephen Crawford commented: “We wanted to calf her naturally first, and we are also at the present time in discussions with breeders in America and Sweden. Raymond Crawford added: “This is a major boost for Northern Ireland’s pedigree breeders.”
Crawford Brothers livestock are globally recognized Pedigree Limousin Breeders. Having achieved prolific show success, they have achieved what no other breeders have before and that success can't ever be achieved again considering The Royal Show and Dublin Show are no longer in existence. Crawford Brothers are the only Limousin Breeders who have won Limousin Championships at all of the Royal Shows: The Royal Welsh, The Royal Ulster Agricultural Show, The Royal Highland Show, The Great Yorkshire, The Royal Show, and The Royal Dublin Show.
However the most Prolific Championship they have achieved is their ultimate success with Sauvignon. Crawford Brothers celebrated on Monday 6th March 2007 when their five-year old bull Sauvignon took the Male Championship title at the SIMA/SIMAGENA Show held in Paris. As well as winning his class and standing Male Champion, Sauvignon also took the Champion Carcase Bull award and was European Progeny Champion. British Limousins were truly centre stage as the judging honours were undertaken by Mr Colin Soutter, Herd Manager of Whinfell Park Limousins, Clifton Moor, Penrith, Cumbria.
In partnership with Cogent Breeding, Northern Ireland Limousin breeders Raymond and Stephen Crawford have had sexed semen collected from their two Limousin bulls, Sauvignon and Vigot, both winners at the Great Yorkshire Show.
The Fermanagh-based family business has transformed itself from a traditional farming enterprise to an exporting company selling livestock and genetics to 14 countries worldwide. An event to recognise its contribution and to mark 30 years of breeding pedigree Limousin cattle was held in Stormont Wednesday 24 March 2010, where the province’s political leaders praised the brothers’ commitment, innovation and success. The Duke of Westminster, owner and founder of UK breeding company, Cogent, added words of commendation for the family business and praised one bull in particular, “Sauvignon” which attracted attention as the first beef sire to have sexed male semen sold in the UK.