Dairy farm efficiency rewarded at Balmoral

Dairy Farmer Matthew Alcorn of Loughmuck, Omagh, receives first prize at the 2015 United Dairy Farmers Farm Efficiency Awards sponsored by Ulster Bank at Balmoral Show. He receives his award from John Dunlop, Chairman, United Dairy Farmers (left) and Kenton Hilman, Ulster Bank. Pictured with Matthew Alcorn are James Alcorn, Rhona Alcorn and Bethany Alcorn.
Dairy Farmer Matthew Alcorn of Loughmuck, Omagh, receives first prize at the 2015 United Dairy Farmers Farm Efficiency Awards sponsored by Ulster Bank at Balmoral Show. He receives his award from John Dunlop, Chairman, United Dairy Farmers (left) and Kenton Hilman, Ulster Bank. Pictured with Matthew Alcorn are James Alcorn, Rhona Alcorn and Bethany Alcorn.

The Dale Farm 2015 Farm Efficiency Awards, sponsored by Ulster Bank, were presented at this week’s Balmoral Show.

An annual feature at Balmoral, the awards recognise the achievements of the members of United Dairy Farmers in the management of their farms.

This year, with a focus on farm efficiency, the top prize of £1,000 went to Matthew Alcorn of Loughmuck, County Tyrone.

In assessing farm efficiency the judging panel took account of a range of factors including milk yields and quality, milk from forage, feed rate per litre, herd replacement efficiency, and business improvement strategy.

On Thursday 14th May John Dunlop, the Chairman of United Dairy Farmers, and Kenton Hilman, the Ulster Bank’s Head of Corporate & Institutional Banking, presented the following awards:

· Winner – Matthew Alcorn, Loughmuck, Omagh, County Tyrone.

· Runner up – David and Andrew Murray, Banbridge, County Down.

· Third Place – Gordon Mitchell, Banbridge, County Down.

· Highly Commended – John Shanks, Ballynahinch, County Down;

- Stephen Crawford, Kinawaley, County Fermanagh; and

- James Brown, Ballywalter, Newtownards, County Down.

Matthew Alcorn, who helps run a 130-cow herd in Loughmuck alongside his brother James and parents Kenneth and Lorna, impressed the judges with the farm’s overall commitment to efficiency. The dairy herd has an excellent yield of approaching 9000 litres per cow, which is achieved through quality forage production and efficient concentrate use. The judges were also impressed with the Alcorn’s herd breeding strategy and performance and by the superb attention to detail on the farm, where all work, including silage making and machinery maintenance, is carried out by the family.

Speaking at the award presentation, United Dairy Farmers Chairman John Dunlop, said: “Each year, United Dairy Farmers hosts a competition at Balmoral Show through which we highlight the many positive things our members do at farm level.

“Against a difficult industry backdrop this year, greater emphasis than ever is being placed on the importance of production efficiency and the role it has to play in keeping our dairy farms sustainable and viable. For that reason, we chose this year to recognise the great efforts our members have made to minimise cost and maximise output.

“On behalf of all at United Dairy Farmers, I would like to extend particular congratulations to Matthew Alcorn and the Alcorn family, as well as David and Andrew Murray, Gordon Mitchell and all Highly Commended recipients, each of whom demonstrated a forward thinking, innovative approach to maintaining farm efficiency,” said John Dunlop.

Ulster Bank’s Senior Agricultural Manager NI, Cormac McKervey, added, “Ulster Bank is delighted to be associated with these awards and to join with United Dairy Farmers in showing our support for the dairy industry and in particular for the excellent work that goes into the efficient production of top quality milk on local farms.

“There was an exceptionally strong list of entrants and the judges had a difficult task in selecting the overall winner.

“I was most impressed by steps taken by each of the winners to measure and benchmark their farm performance, and by their commitment to the success of their businesses.

“In the current difficult economic climate for the dairy sector, this is a positive sign for the future health of the industry.”