The Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) has confirmed an attendance of 6,000 people at this year’s Winter Dairy Fair.
“The event continues to grow in popularity,” said RUAS chief executive Colin McDonald.
“In many ways this is due to the investment made by our commercial exhibitors in having such a professional presence at the fair. We also had a tremendous turnout of livestock exhibitors from both sides of the border this year.”
This year’s event saw Dale Farm Dale Farm announce a 1p/L increase in milk price, effective from November 1st. This follows increases in July, August, September and October. When the increase is applied, this will take the total price paid to farmers to over 27p/L for milk of average constituents.
Commenting on the decision, Dale Farm Group Chairman, John Dunlop, said: “This is the fifth consecutive month that Dale Farm has increased its milk price, resulting in an uplift of almost 10p/L since a further positive move for our farmer owners. This equates to almost £80m extra over 12 months. On top of this we also paid a 4p/l bonus on extra milk produced. The initiative was hugely successful and resulted in an additional 0.274p/L in November across the milk pool. This is an increase that will make a significant difference to our contributing members.
“We continue to work with our customers to secure much needed market returns. This involves remaining focused on driving dairy consumption and value for consumers through new innovations including Dale Farm Vitamin D Milk, Dale Farm Pots of Goodness yogurts, Dale Farm Protein Milk, and existing hero brands Dromona, Spelga and Fivemiletown.
“The launch of Dale Farm’s ‘Farmers Milk’ in ASDA last month was another welcome boost to our dairy farmers, especially during winter months when they have additional costs. Research shows that knowing where food comes from, and who will benefit from its purchase, influences how people fill their shopping basket. Consumers seem willing to pay more if they know it goes directly to the farmers that produce it.”
Dale Farm CEO Nick Whelan said that the outlook for milk prices remains reasonably positive, certainly for the next couple of months.
“I am not in a position to look beyond that at the present time. There are just too many factors coming into play.”
Whelan confirmed that oil prices do have an influence on international dairy markets.
“But it’s far too early to say if the recent oil price rise, which has been relatively small, will have a longer term impact on dairy markets.”
Desmond Dundee Embrace, owned jointly by the Jones family from Co Wexford and Donegal man Roy Cromie, is this year’s Royal Ulster Winter Fair Inter-Breed Champion. Imported as an embryo from Canada by Limerick Holstein breeder Martin O’Sullivan, Embrace is no stranger to success at the Balmoral venue: she was awarded the comparable title at the Winter Fair back of 2014. Now a fifth calver, the cow was also selected as the Holstein breed champion at this year’s event.
Judge Paul Trapp, from Wisconsin, described his champion as an elite cow: “She has an enormous production record. But what impressed me most of all was the quality of her udder,” he said.
Cromie confirmed a strong demand for progeny from Embrace: “A daughter, sired by Doorman, sold for 5,500gns at a Carlisle sale back in February of this year,” he said. “We have also flushed her on a number of occasions.”
The inter-breed reserve – and reserve Holstein champion – is Evergreen Duplex Ebony, owned and bred by Liam Murphy, from Co Carlow. She had previously won the inter breed title at the 2015 Winter Fair.
“The cow calved for the fifth time back in June and is currently giving 38L per day,” confirmed Murphy. “The cow is back in calf to Evergreen Aladdin.”
Trapp selected the Ayrshire champion – Sandyford Honest Blizzard – as his honourable mention. She is owned by Co Antrim breeders John Hunter and his son Michael. The cow notched up the 12th breed title secured by the family at the Winter Fair, stretching back to 1988. The Hunters have been milking Ayrshire cows since 1965. Blizzard calved down for the third time a few days ago. Bred by the Tomlinson family from Loughborough in Leicestershire, she was bought by John and Michael for 3,600gns at a dispersal sale on September 20th last.
John Hunter said he was delighted with his latest acquisition: “She produced a heifer calf and is currently giving 47L/day. So we have no complaints at all. Blizzard is a very eye catching cow. Hopefully, she will do well for us.”
The Hunters also exhibited the Ayrshire reserve – Ardmore Janet 110. A homebred 2nd calver, this was the first time that she had ever graced a show ring.
Clandeboye Estates won the Jersey breed title with the home bred second calver Clandeboye Allstar 1 Evita. She had calved down for a second time a fortnight before the event. The cow had previously won the Jersey heifer in milk class at Balmoral Show 2016.
The reserve Jersey breed championship went to Co Cavan breeder Seamus Shannon with his 3rd calver Thurlstone May Fay.
“She was bred by John and Susan Dickinson, owners of the Thurlstone herd,” said Shannon.
“I bought her in early 2015, when she was in mid lactation. It is only now that I am seeing her in full milk. And she has grown into a tremendous cow. She is one of eight Jerseys in the herd. We also milk 55 Holsteins.”
Meanwhile two different branches of the Booth family, from South Co Tyrone, took home the main Dairy Shorthorn prizes at the Winter Fair. Father and son team George and Jason won the breed championship with their heifer in milk Beechview Empire Tiny. The same animal had previously won the Winter Fair Shorthorn junior championship as a 7-month old calf. The Shorthorn reserve went to Noel and Ralph Booth with their second calver Kilsally Jill 17.
So much for the champions: one to watch out for down the line, according to Paul Trapp, is the Holstein junior heifer in milk class winner Hilltara Impression Echo. She is owned and bred by Co Down breeder Sam McCormick. Trapp selected her as his honourable mention in the Holstein championship, referring to the heifer as an animal with a tremendous future in the show ring
RUAS Winter Fair Results:
Inter-breed champion: Jones & Cromie
Inter-breed reserve: L Murphy
Inter-breed honourable mention: J & M Hunter
Champion: Jones & Cromie
Reserve: L Murphy
Best Exhibitor-bred animal: L Murphy
Premier Exhibitor in Section Award: S & J McCormick
Junior Champion: J J Gunn
Junior Reserve Champion: P Greenan
Heifer Champion: S & J McCormick
Reserve Heifer Champion: O’Neill & Boyd
Heifer born after June 1st 2015: 1st JJ Gunn; 2nd G Hurley
Heifer born after June 1st 2014 and before May 31st 2015: 1st P Greenan: 2nd C McAufield
Junior heifer in milk: 1st S & J McCormick; 2nd P Flanagan
Intermediate heifer in milk: 1st Lumville Holsteins; 2nd S & J McCormick
Senior heifer in milk: 1st O’Neill & Boyd; 2nd G Hurley
Cow in milk class – 2nd calver: 1st Hallow Holsteins; 2nd G & J Booth
Cow in milk – third calver: 1st S McCormick; 2nd J Pollock
Cow – four calvings and more: 1st L Murphy; 2nd P Cotton
Production class: 1st Jones & Cromie
Champion: J Hunter
Reserve: J Hunter
Heifer Champion: J Hunter
Heifer Champion – reserve: J Hunter
Junior Champion: J Hunter
Junior Champion – reserve: S & N Baxter
Premier Exhibitor: J Hunter
Best Exhibitor bred Ayrshire: J Hunter
Maiden heifer class: 1st J Hunter; 2nd S & N Baxter
Dry cow class: 1st S & N Baxter; 2nd R & C McConnell
Cow in milk class – 2nd lactation: 1st J Hunter; 2nd S & N Baxter
Cow in milk – 3 plus lactations: 1st J Hunter; 2nd J Hunter
Champion: Clandeboye Estates
Reserve: S Shannon
Junior Champion: P Flanagan
Heifer Champion: Clandeboye Estate
Premier Exhibitor: Clandeboye Estate
Novice Exhibitor: SShannon
Heifer in milk class: 1st Clandeboye Estate; 2nd Clandeboye Estate
Junior Cow Class: 1st Clandeboye Estate; 2nd Clandeboye Estate
Senior Cow class: 1st S Shannon; 2nd Clandeboye Estate
Dairy Shorthorn Classes
Champion: G & J Booth
Reserve: N & R Booth
Heifer Champion: G & J Booth
Heifer Champion – reserve: A Irwin
Junior Champion: N & R Booth
Junior Champion – reserve: N & R Booth
Best Exhibitor-bred Shorthorn: G & J Booth
Premier Exhibitor Award: N & R Booth
Maiden heifer class: 1st N & R Booth; 2nd N & R Booth
Heifer in milk class: 1st G & J Booth; 2nd A Irwin
Junior Cow class: 1st N & R Booth; 2nd N & R Booth
Senior cow class: 1st N & R Booth; 2nd A Irwi