The completely new team at the helm of Co Antrim Agricultural Association will have very fond memories of Ballymena Show 2014.
Chairman Robert Dick, his vice chairman Ian Crawford and secretary Jane Hume can look back on an event which put the spotlight on all that is good about farming and food in the mid-Antrim area.
“We have had a tremendous two days,” Mr Dick told the News Letter.
“The sun shone throughout and the support shown by the people from the Ballymena and surrounding area for this year’s event was nothing short of fantastic.
“But, perhaps most pleasing of all, was the increased entry of livestock across all our show classes. The parade of champions, which is the true highlight of the Saturday afternoon, was as good a turnout of animals as I have ever seen at Ballymena.”
Leading that cavalcade was a 14-month-old Belgian Blue cross heifer, owned by Robert Miller from Moneymore. Appropriately named –‘She’s a Diamond’ – Beef Inter-Breed judge James Playfair–Hannay, from Kelso in Scotland, described her as the perfect beef animal.
“She has tremendous length and beef in all the right places,” Mr Playfair-Hannay said.
“I couldn’t fault her.”
Meanwhile, the Texel breed was flying the flag for the sheep industry at Ballymena. Well-known breeder Alastair Gault won both the breed championship and the supreme inter-breed title with an excellent yearling ewe.
This is a very important year for local Texel enthusiasts as it marks the 40th anniversary of the breed’s introduction to the island of Ireland.
Over the past four decades the breed has proven itself at both commercial and pedigree level. The success of Texels has been attributed to the sheep’s unique ability to convert grazed grass into high quality meat. And at a time of tremendous resurgence for the sheep industry as a whole in Northern Ireland, the Texel breed looks set to enjoy another 40-plus years in the limelight.
The Inter Breed Dairy champion at Ballymena was a truly elite Holstein cow, owned and bred by Iain McLean, from Bushmills in Co Antrim. Born in January 2010, Priestland 4951 Shot Bedazzle calved for the second time back in February of this year. A daughter of the renowned dairy sire Picston Shottle, she is an excellent example of her breed.
As it turned out, Ballymena Show 2014 will live long in the memory of the entire McLean family as they managed to win the Holstein, Ayrshire and Coloured Breeds’ championships at the event.
“Bedazzle is a very special cow,” Iain explained.
“We have had a lot of interest from breeding companies in Great Britain to have her contract mated. A bull calf produced in this way would, potentially, be a very valuable sire of the future.”
He added: “We have had a very successful start to the show season. Our plan is to attend most of the events planned for the summer months.”