Ballymoney Show: Brexit fears a worry for NI sheep farmers

April Baldock (left) and Joyce McLean with the Supreme Champion of this year's Ballymoney Show, Priestland Shot J Rose
April Baldock (left) and Joyce McLean with the Supreme Champion of this year's Ballymoney Show, Priestland Shot J Rose
Share this article

The dairy ring at this year’s Ballymoney Show saw the McLean family from Bushmills secure a Dairy Inter-Breed Championship, year-on-year double, with their majestic Holstein cow: Priestland 5446 Shot J Rose.

The animal went on to win the Supreme Championship of the show.

Rose calved for the fourth time a fortnight ago and is currently giving 70 litres of milk per day. According to Iain McLean, she may well peak at 80 litres during her current lactation.

The Beef Inter-Breed Championship was won by the Crawford family from Co Fermanagh with their eye catching Limousin bull: Haltcliffe Nijinsky. The two-year-old was also selected as the Limousin champion of the show.

He had previously caught the eye at this year’s Balmoral Show and is widely regarded as a Limousin sire with a tremendous breeding future. Semen from Nijinsky will be available later this year.

Meanwhile, the possible impact of Brexit on the local farming industry was the main talking point amongst exhibitors, judges and visitors attending this year’s show. But it’s not just agriculture in Northern Ireland that is totally consumed by the issue: the same also holds for farmers in Scotland.

Andrew Warnock, from Lanarkshire, judged the sheep inter-breed classes at Ballymoney.

“The sheep industry will be very exposed to a no-deal Brexit,” he said.

“Flock owners throughout the UK are very dependent on lamb exports to Europe for their survival. If tariffs were to be introduced on our lamb exports to countries like France, it could have a devastating impact on farm incomes here.

“Sheep farmers in both Scotland and Northern Ireland would be affected in an equal manner under such circumstances.”

Andrew continued: “Farmers just want certainty and many are deeply concerned about the way the Westminster government has mismanaged the Brexit discussions up to this point.”

Meanwhile, Andrew was having a challenging day in the show rings.

“The quality of the sheep entered for the show is exceptional,” he said.

“The numbers entered are also very high. All of this bodes well for the sheep industry as a whole in Northern Ireland as it looks to the future, irrespective of whatever Brexit deal we finish up with.”

After a long day’s judging Andrew awarded the sheep inter breed title to Bluefaced Leicester breeder William Adams, owner of the Holmview flock.

Clydesdale horses are a traditional feature of Ballymoney Show. And this year was marked by a tremendous turnout of these truly majestic animals.

Graffin Hanna, from north Antrim, has spent a lifetime breeding Clydesdales. His yearling filly, Mac Fin Queen of the Roses, won the reserve championship at Ballymoney.

“Northern Ireland is one of the world’s most important breeding centres for Clydesdales,” he said.

“There is a growing market for bloodstock in other parts of the UK, Ireland and North America.

“The Clydesdale is unique in combining strength, excellent temperament and stunning beauty.”

This year’s Clydesdale championship was won by the three-year-old mare Agivey Sophie. She was exhibited by David Patterson from Garvagh.