Antrim Show: Young bull has right pedigree for success

Larry Crilly with his Limiousin champion Shanhill Jodie at Antrim Show

Larry Crilly with his Limiousin champion Shanhill Jodie at Antrim Show

One of the first major qualifier-based titles of the summer – the NISA: Bank of Ireland Pedigree Junior Bull of the Year championship – was awarded at this year’s Antrim Show.

And the silverware went west following the more than impressive showing of the 10-month old Simmental weanling, Mullyknock Gallant, exhibited by Fermanagh breeder Robert Forde.

Two-year-old Thomas Hamill was the youngest competitor in the Texel young handlers competition at Antrim Show. Assisted by dad Andrew, he was congratulated by DAERA Minister Michelle McIlveen

Two-year-old Thomas Hamill was the youngest competitor in the Texel young handlers competition at Antrim Show. Assisted by dad Andrew, he was congratulated by DAERA Minister Michelle McIlveen

Judge Dougie McBeath, from Stirling, described the animal as an outstanding young bull with tremendous potential.

“It has all the characteristics of a top quality beef breeding sire, including great length and shape,” he added.

Mr Forde confirmed that he intends taking the bull to one of the Stirling sales in 2017.

“Most satisfying for me is the fact that the bull was up against competing animals that were significantly older. He definitely has tremendous scope and we will see how he develops over the coming months.”

Aiofe Griffin, Toomebridge, with her prize winning British Blonde calf. Pictures: Julie Hazelton

Aiofe Griffin, Toomebridge, with her prize winning British Blonde calf. Pictures: Julie Hazelton

Meanwhile, in the dairy show rings, the McLean family, from Bushmills, was having another excellent day out.

They won their fifth inter-breed dairy championship of the summer with the Ayrshire fourth calver, Marleycote Sea Lilly.

The judge, Robert Hunter, from Lanarkshire, described the cow as an excellent example of the Ayrshire breed.

“The fact that she has calved successfully on four occasions, and still looks so well, is testimony to her tremendous dairy strength,” he said.

“Longevity is so important from a dairy breeding perspective. We milk Holstein and Jersey cows at home. So it takes a truly outstanding animal of another breed to catch my eye.”

Dromara flock owner Jim Aiken will also have fond memories of Antrim Show 2016.

He won his second inter-breed sheep championship in successive weeks with the same animal, a truly eye-catching Border Leicester shearling ewe.

Judge Kevin Buckle, from Cumbria, characterised the animal as one having outstanding breed characteristics.

“In addition to her tremendous conformation, she has effortless grace and poise. She stood out from all the other sheep that qualified for the inter-breed class,” he said.

The beef inter-breed championship was won by the Connolly family, from Ballynahinch in Co Down with their outstanding Charolais cow: Wesley Glamorous. She was accompanied in the show ring by her fifth calf, born just a few a weeks ago.

The impact that a Brexit will have on cross-border trade could be extremely significant, according to Alliance Party MLA David Ford.

“Agriculture and food will be the sectors most exposed to these challenges, if a hard border becomes a reality over the coming years,” he added.

Mr Ford made these comments while visiting this year’s Antrim Show. He sits on the new agriculture, environment and rural affairs committee at Stormont.

“The reality is that the Irish border immediately becomes an international frontier between the EU and the United Kingdom post-Brexit. And this will have major implications for the way that we in Northern Ireland go about our business.

“Farming and food already operate on an all-island basis, to a large extent.”

Mr Ford welcomed the merger of both agriculture and environment, within the new ministerial and departmental arrangements at Stormont.

“Both policy areas fully complement each other,” he said.

“Irrespective of the UK coming out of the EU, the fact remains that local farmers will have to attain the highest environmental standards when it comes to producing food.”

• See Saturday’s Farming Life for results