Balmoral Show: Golden girl brings home beef for British Blue breeder

Raymond McFarland and Rayderjem Legend during Thursday's competitions
Raymond McFarland and Rayderjem Legend during Thursday's competitions

It has taken a quarter of a century for a British Blue breeder to secure the highest beef accolade that the Balmoral Show can offer.

However, that all changed on day two of this year’s event when the Martin family from Newtownards won the Beef Inter Breed championship with their five- year-old cow Springhill Golden Lady.

They say that God loves a trier, and in the case of the Martin family, this is undoubtedly the case.

The cow in question had been selected as the Blue champion for the past three years at Balmoral. But she was always the bridesmaid when it came to the handing out of the main silverware. So what made the difference in 2016?

“She arrived at this year’s show with her first natural-born calf at foot,” said James Martin.

“The bull was born three months ago. Thankfully, he was delivered with a minimum of fuss. A high proportion of pedigree Blue calves require a caesarean section at birth.

“So Golden Lady arrived at Balmoral looking her absolute best.

“We are truly delighted with this year’s result. There was a tremendous turnout of cattle at Balmoral 2016.

“Yes, Golden Lady is a former breed champion, but we were taking nothing for granted.”

Both Golden Lady and her calf – christened Leo – will now take their chances in next month’s Highland Show.

The Springhill herd comprises 20 cows. And it is a name linked to success, both here in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

“We also make 150 dairy cows,” James continued.

“A Balmoral title is a tremendous accolade to receive. It both rubber stamps the quality of the cattle in the herd and underpins the prices that can be achieved for stock coming under the auctioneer’s hammer.

“We have invested heavily in the herd over recent years, striving at all times to introduce the best blood lines that are available internationally.”

The Co Down breeder confirmed that demand for quality British Blue livestock remains high.

“We sell to both commercial dairy and suckler farmers in Northern Ireland. But the real demand lies across the water. In a normal year, approximately three-quarters of our stock would be sold to breeders in GB.”

Sam confirmed that British Blue cattle are renowned for their beefing qualities and their tremendous temperament.

“Calves are very easily reared and have a real will to live,” he explained.

BALMORAL RESULTS, DAY TWO

BEEF CATTLE

Inter Breed Beef Champion: Martin family, Newtownards

Charolais Champion: Millar family, Coleraine

Charolais Reserve: D Bothwell, Enniskillen

Simmental Champion: K Mullarkey, Sligo

Simmental Reserve: Weatherup family, Ballyclare

Blonde Champion: D G Greene, Lisburn

Blonde Reserve: J & P Rainey, Kilrea

Salers Champion: Stewart family, Newtownstewart

Salers Reserve: R Millar, Larne

Commercial Champion: J C B Commercials, Newtownards

Commercial Reserve: Mark family, Castlerea

Beef Shorthorn Champion: Caramba Shorthorns, Kinvara, Co Galway

Beef Shorthorn Reserve: N & L Dowds, Creggs

Dexter Champion: H Briggs, Ballymena

Dexter Reserve: W Montgomery, Newtownards

Irish Moiled Champion: Baxter family, Omagh

Irish Moiled Reserve: N Edwards, Eglinton

SHEEP RESULTS

Border Leicester Champion: J Aiken, Dromore, Co Down

Border Leicester Reserve: D Mawhinney, Newtownards

Suffolk Champion: G C Beacom, Fivemiletown

Suffolk Reserve: D Taylor, Coleraine

Champion Mule: M Wright, Ballymena

Reserve Mule: J Adams, Ballymena

Champion Bluefaced Leicester: B Blaney, Cushendall

Reserve: Bluefaced Leicester: B Blaney, Cushendall

Champion Ile de France: E Adamson, Carrickfergus

Reserve Ile de France: R Milligan, Maghera

Champion: Perth Blackface: J Adams, Ballymena

Reserve Blackface: Carson family, Ballymena

Champion Greyface: J Adams, Ballymena

Reserve: R Crawford, Ballymena