Three-in-a row supreme championships for Suffolk breeder, Mark Priestly, at Armagh Show

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The summer of 2024 just keeps on improving for Co Down Suffolk sheep breeder, Mark Priestly.

He started off this year’s showing season with an emphatic Balmoral inter breed championship victory, showing a truly elite shearling ewe.

And then, just for good measure, he secured the inter-breed sheep championship at last weekend’s Armagh Show with another shearling ewe.

The commitment of the Downpatrick man to breed Suffolk sheep of the highest quality is immense.

The inter-breed sheep champion at Armagh Show 2024 with owner: Mark Priestly and judge: Alison McCrabbeThe inter-breed sheep champion at Armagh Show 2024 with owner: Mark Priestly and judge: Alison McCrabbe
The inter-breed sheep champion at Armagh Show 2024 with owner: Mark Priestly and judge: Alison McCrabbe

This was his third Armagh inter-breed sheep victory on the spin.

Alison Crabbe, from Raphoe in Co Donegal, judged the final sheep class of the day at Armagh Show 2024. She farms a mix of Beltex and Badger sheep in tandem with Hereford cattle.

The judge described her champion as a tremendous example of the Suffolk breed, adding: “She has tremendous length and balance. It’s almost as if she had an extra rib. The shearling has tremendous breeding potential for the future.”

The winning ewe will be put to the ram in September, in preparation for lambing next January.

The supreme dairy champion at Armagh Show 2024 with handler: Andrew Kennedy, owner: Jason Booth and Holstein Championship judge: Andrea RaffertyThe supreme dairy champion at Armagh Show 2024 with handler: Andrew Kennedy, owner: Jason Booth and Holstein Championship judge: Andrea Rafferty
The supreme dairy champion at Armagh Show 2024 with handler: Andrew Kennedy, owner: Jason Booth and Holstein Championship judge: Andrea Rafferty

Meanwhile Armagh Show 2024 boasted, possibly, the largest beet cattle entry of all time.

Judging of the various classes went on well into the afternoon.

The inter-breed beef championship was awarded to Kilkeel Limousin breeder, Trevor Shields with a tremendous 22 month-old heifer: Glenmarshal Theduchess. She looked an absolute picture in the ring.

John Kingham, from Tateetra Farms in Co Louth, judged the beef inter-breed class. He described his champion as an elite heifer.

It was great to have a fun day out at Armagh Show 2024, l to r: Charlie Rice, Portadown; Sophie Cunningham, Waringstown; Caylan Hylands, Donaghacloney and Harry Neill, PortadownIt was great to have a fun day out at Armagh Show 2024, l to r: Charlie Rice, Portadown; Sophie Cunningham, Waringstown; Caylan Hylands, Donaghacloney and Harry Neill, Portadown
It was great to have a fun day out at Armagh Show 2024, l to r: Charlie Rice, Portadown; Sophie Cunningham, Waringstown; Caylan Hylands, Donaghacloney and Harry Neill, Portadown

“She just stood out that little bit on the day,” he said.

“For me she had everything that a elite beef breeding heifer should have: tremendous presence, scope and an all-round quality that only top animals possess.

Kingham added: “I was very impressed with the overall quality of the cattle taking part in the classes that were here throughout the day.

Tateetra Farm is home to the largest herd of sucklers in Ireland. John Kingham again: “We will be calving in excess of 500 cows this year.

Enjoying their day at Armagh Show 2024, l to r: Jim Scott, Killyleagh, Co Down; Roy Wilson, Killyleagh, Co Down; Jack Sneddon, Banbridge, Leslie Beattie, BanbridgeEnjoying their day at Armagh Show 2024, l to r: Jim Scott, Killyleagh, Co Down; Roy Wilson, Killyleagh, Co Down; Jack Sneddon, Banbridge, Leslie Beattie, Banbridge
Enjoying their day at Armagh Show 2024, l to r: Jim Scott, Killyleagh, Co Down; Roy Wilson, Killyleagh, Co Down; Jack Sneddon, Banbridge, Leslie Beattie, Banbridge

The winning beef inter-breed connections were the inaugural recipients of the Charlotte Crowe Perpetual Cup, named after a former patron of Armagh Show, who passed away during December 2023.

The dairy inter-breed championship at Armagh Show 2024 was won by George and Jason Booth, from Stewartstown in Co Tyrone, with their impressive Holstein third calver: Brookroad Satrin 185.

The reserve went to the Fleming family, from Seaforde in Co Down with their Jersey third calver: Potterswalls Impression Lady 6.

The Holstein judge - Andrea Rafferty, from Co Monaghan - described her champion as a tremendous dairy cow, adding: “She is very silky, very dairy and has tremendous feet and legs.

“Her mammary system is excellent. The cow also has tremendous balance.

“Both the winning cow and the reserve could win a lot of classes around the country.”

Frank Foster, from Loughgall, with his 1966 Massey Ferguson 135 tractor at Armagh Show 2024Frank Foster, from Loughgall, with his 1966 Massey Ferguson 135 tractor at Armagh Show 2024
Frank Foster, from Loughgall, with his 1966 Massey Ferguson 135 tractor at Armagh Show 2024

Sathrin is currently giving 55l of milk per day.

“She calved for the third time back in February,” Jason Booth explained.

“She was second in the four-year-old class at this year’s Balmoral Show. Hopefully she is back in calf to the Candain bull: Logic PP.

“We used a sexed straw, so hopefully we can look forward to the arrival of a heifer calf in a few months’ time.”

The Jersey inter-breed reserve is also performing extremely well at the present time.

According to Lindsay Fleming, she is giving 33L of milk at the present at 5.6% butterfat and

3.89% protein.

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