Seven Ulster farmers to feature in ‘Rare Breed - A Farming Year’

Scott Lilburn and his brothers are washing and packing potatoes, Craigavon
Scott Lilburn and his brothers are washing and packing potatoes, Craigavon

Seven Ulster farmers will feature in the latest series of ‘Rare Breed – A Farming Year’ which returns to our screens next Tuesday, 10th January, 2017 at 7.30pm on UTV.

This 12 part series shows the highs and lows of farming life in Northern Ireland throughout the agricultural year. In the first episode we meet George Bingham who runs his family’s dairy farm with more than 600 milking cows in Templepatrick, Co. Antrim. To prepare for the New Year George is organising his large dairy herd for their TB tests. He shares his thoughts about farming life: “For the hours you need to put in for this job, you couldn’t do it and not love it...farming is in our blood.”

Michael Robson, Ballyclare.

Michael Robson, Ballyclare.

Meanwhile close by in Ballyclare and breeding bulls since 1970 is the Robson Farm. For brothers Michael and Norman Robson January is a critical month preparing their prize Simmental bulls for next month’s annual sales in Scotland, which Michael describes as “the Olympics of bull sales”. He explains: “You can see some great animals completing from all over, we spend 20 months getting our bulls ready to give them every chance.”

27 year old, Scott Lilburn is on the family farm in Craigavon, Armagh packing and sorting potatoes with his brothers, father and grandfather. Scott is passionate about farming, choosing to return to the family business after studying finance and marketing. He say: “I just love being out there in the fields on a good spring day and working to meet the demand for orders.”

We also meet Chris Johnston who runs a beef herd near Fivemiletown in Tyrone. While caring for his own stock, in 2013 he diversified his business by travelling to farms to scan pregnant cattle, sheep and goats. Chris explains: “It can be busy but I love keeping my own ground and cattle...plus my father and brother are always floating about to help me.”

Michael Wilson, Managing Director, UTV said: “Rare Breed – A Farming Year has become a firm favourite amongst UTV viewers who look forward to the return of the agricultural series each year in our New Year schedule. The last series attracted an average audience of 205,000 viewers per episode which was a great success.

Michael and Norman Robson, Ballyclare Antrim

Michael and Norman Robson, Ballyclare Antrim

“Rare Breed is unique in that it gives viewers an access-all-areas pass to the people behind one of Northern Ireland’s biggest industries – on farms both big and small. In this series we meet seven farming families from Ulster with some familiar and new faces.”

The series is produced for UTV by local independent production company Crawford-McCann Television. Kelda Crawford-McCann, Managing Director of the company said: “We are delighted with the continued popularity of Rare Breed. It’s been another fascinating 12 months with our farmers, following the highs and lows they face as they run their businesses and produce food for tables throughout Northern Ireland and further afield.

“It is great to launch another series of Rare Breed on UTV, the series will run for 12 weeks with each episode representing a different month of the year. We have a real variety – everything from vegetables, arable, dairy, flowers and foliage, fruit, sheep and pigs, along with new farms and families.”

UTV’s Mark McFadden will narrate the series. Sponsored by Dale Farm, Rare Breed – A Farming Year starts on Tuesday 10th January 2017 at 7.30pm on UTV.

George Bingham, dairy herd in Templepatrick, Antrim

George Bingham, dairy herd in Templepatrick, Antrim

Chris Johnston runs a beef herd near Fivemiletown in Tyrone

Chris Johnston runs a beef herd near Fivemiletown in Tyrone