Willofarm herd hosts Holstein NI stockjudging competition

Linear team qualifiers Brian Weatherup and Tom McKnight (junior); David McAllister and Matthew McLean (intermediate); and William Bolton and Lindsey Fleming (senior), were congratulated by sponsor Noel McGrath, Ecosyl; Holstein NI chairman Stuart Smith; and HYB co-ordinator Andrew Kennedy. Picture: Julie Hazelton
Linear team qualifiers Brian Weatherup and Tom McKnight (junior); David McAllister and Matthew McLean (intermediate); and William Bolton and Lindsey Fleming (senior), were congratulated by sponsor Noel McGrath, Ecosyl; Holstein NI chairman Stuart Smith; and HYB co-ordinator Andrew Kennedy. Picture: Julie Hazelton

A good turnout of Holstein NI members put their skills to the test at the club’s recent stockjudging competition, hosted this year by the Throne family’s Willofarm Herd, writes Julie Hazelton.

The Willofarm prefix dates back to the early 1970s when the existing herd was graded-up. Foundation females were also purchased from several of the country’s leading herds including Smiddiehill, Barbican, Hyland and Ballybeeny.

The herd currently comprises of 130 cows with an average yield of 11,266kgs at 3.76% butterfat and 3.12% protein. They are milked three times daily from December to the end of July, with David and Gary switching to twice-a-day milking for the remainder of the year.

The herd’s main cow families include Roxy from Hanoverhill, Kitty from Newroddige, Iris from Hyland, Royalty from Hayleys, Roza from Ijsselvliedt in Holland, and the highly acclaimed Ambrosia family.

Master judge David Boyd from the noted Glaslough Herd in County Monaghan, thanked Holstein NI for its invitation, and said it was a pleasure to visit such a high calibre herd. “The four classes presented a challenge for the young and experienced judges taking part in the competition.

“I am delighted to see a large turnout of members, especially from the Holstein Young Breeders’ Club. They were very competitive, and their structured reasoning skills were excellent.”

The event, generously sponsored by forage inoculant giant Ecosyl, is organised annually to give HYB members an opportunity to qualify to represent Northern Ireland at the parent society’s National Competitions Day.

HYB co-ordinator Andrew Kennedy said: “A big thank you to the Damm, Hilltara and Beechview Herds, who hosted stockjudging practices ahead of the final. Each competitor’s highest score from the practice session is added to today’s score, and the top-placed individuals in each category will go forward to the national finals.

“Thanks also to our coaches and mentors Ashley Fleming and Mark Logan for their dedication and assistance during the practice nights.”

HYB co-ordinator Andrew Kennedy announced the winners in each hotly contested category:

HYB Junior class – 1, Brian Weatherup, Carrickfergus; 2, Tom McKnight, Lisburn; 3, John Hamilton, Bangor.

HYB Intermediate class – 1, David McAllister, Dervock; 2, Matthew McLean, Bushmills; 3, Mark Henry, Stranocum.

HYB Senior class – 1, William Bolton, Maghera; 2, Lindsay Fleming, Seaforde; 3, Andrew Patton, Newtownards.

Open Senior class – 1, John Patterson, Crumlin; 2, Stuart Smith, Londonderry; 3, William Hunter, Castlederg.

The 2015 National Competitions Day takes place on Saturday 13th June at the Overseal Herd, property of Messrs JE and EM Marshall, Woodside Farm, Linton, Swadlincote Derbyshire.

The HYB stockjudging team representing Northern Ireland includes: Junior – Brian Weatherup, Carrickfergus, and Tom McKnight, Lisburn; Intermediate –David McAllister, Dervock, and Mark Henry, Stranocum; Senior – Lindsay Fleming, Seaforde, and Andrew Patton Newtownards.

Northern Ireland’s linear judging team qualifiers are: Junior – Brian Weatherup, Carrickfergus, and reserve Tom McKnight, Lisburn; Intermediate – David McAllister, Dervock, and reserve Matthew McLean, Bushmills; Senior – William Bolton, Maghera, and reserve Lindsay Fleming, Seaforde.

Holstein NI chairman Stuart Smith thanked the Throne family for their hospitality, and David Boyd for giving up his time to act as master judge.

“We’ve had a very enjoyable day, and thanks again to our sponsors Derek Nelson and Noel McGrath from Ecosyl, and to everyone who contributed the successful running of this year’s competition.

“A special word of thanks to Thompsons and Holden Agriculture who sponsored the lunch and refreshments. Visitors gave voluntary donations which amounted to £320 in aid of the Foyle Search and Rescue charity.”

Stuart Smith concluded: “Finally, congratulations to all of the prize winners, and good luck to the HYB members who are destined for the national finals in Derbyshire in mid June.”