Holstein NI hosts its 22nd annual meeting
The club’s newly elected vice-chairman is Jonny Lyons from Coleraine; while David Perry from Ahoghill was elected as president.
Outgoing chairman Iain McLean welcomed members to the AGM, and a minute’s silence was observed in respect of members who had passed away, or families who have been bereaved, since last year’s virtual AGM.
The meeting was sponsored by Dairy Herd Management, represented by Brian Jamieson; and the guest speaker was Andrew Neilson from the noted Overside Herd based at Strathaven in Lanarkshire.
Apologies for absence were recorded, and secretary/treasurer John Martin gave a resume of the club’s financial position over the last twelve months. Worthy of note were the club ‘s charitable donations during 2021, which included £28,500 raised at the charity auction and BBQ in Dungannon. The money was divided equally between Friends of the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital, and Teen Challenge in Belfast. A further £1,560 was raised at the club’s annual dinner in November, and donated to the Boom Foundation.
Outgoing chairman Iain McLean gave a detailed overview of Holstein NI and Holstein Young Breeders’ Club activities.
Mr McLean said 2021 wasn’t a ‘normal year’, but he commended the HYB and host farmers for organising several well-supported stockjudging practices. The annual herds inspection competition, sponsored by Cookstown Dairy Services and Trioliet, was well supported, attracting 68 herds. Thanks to the competitors, judges, stewards, and sponsors, without whom the competition would not be possible.
Iain McLean also congratulated NI premier herd winners, Jim and Nicholas McCann from Bangor, whose Simlahill Herd won the honourable mention award in Holstein UK’s national competition.
Balmoral Show saw the Priestland, Glasson and Millars herds in the championship line-up; with the plaudits in the junior section going to the Annaghmore and Glasson herds.
Congratulations were also conveyed to HYB members Ava Montgomery and Simon Gregg who won the junior showmanship class at the RUAS Winter Fair December. The NI HYB also featured strongly at the All Breeds All Britain Calf Show in Peterborough.
The Summer Sizzler Sale was another well organised and hugely successful initiative which saw calves sell to a top of 14,000gns. Five local herds have been named as recipients of Holstein UK’s prestigious Master Breed Awards – Bannwater, Lisnacloon, Matfield, Trasnafarm and Newry.
The club is hugely indebted to its valued sponsors for their long-standing commitment to Holstein NI. Members were also encouraged to support the monthly female sales hosted by Taaffe Auctions at Dungannon; and the bull sales hosted by HA McIlrath and Sons Ltd at Kilrea.
Iain McLean concluded by thanking Holstein UK trustee Wallace Gregg for looking after the club’s interests a board level; president James Walker, John Martin and Julie Wallace for their assistance during his term in office.
Heather Martin was named as the recipient of the Club Award.
The election of office bearers was conducted by Brian Jamieson, who said Dairy Herd Management was proud of its long association with Holstein NI.
Holstein NI’s newly elected officers include: Chairman, Alex Walker (Caddy); Vice-chairman, Jonny Lyons (Skerryview); Secretary/treasurer, John Martin; HYB co-ordinators, Jessica Hall and Andrew Patton (Ards); President: David Perry (Killane).
The following members were elected to the committee for a three-year term: Kenny Watson (Majestic); Andrew Kennedy (Maineview); John McLean (Priestland); David McNaugher (Mullaugher); and Gaston Wallace (Printshop).
Alex Walker was invited to take the chair, and said it was an honour to be elected chairman of Holstein Northern Ireland. Alex thanked Iain McLean and his family for their dedication to the club throughout what he described as ‘another unprecedented year’.
Holstein Young Breeders’ Club co-ordinator Andrew Patton gave a detailed resume of activities throughout the year; while treasurer Jessica Hall reported on the HYB’s financial position.
Brian Jamieson also conducted the HYB’s election. The following office bearers were elected: Co-ordinator, Andrew Patton (Ards); joint co-ordinator/treasurer Jessica Hall; secretary, John McLean (Priestland); and stockjudging secretary, Heather Martin (Saltwater).
The following members were elected to the HYB committee: Josh Ebron (Annaghmore); Robert Stewart, (Quintin); and Mark Henry (Mostragee). Parent representatives on the HYB committee include: Wallace Gregg (Frocess); Geoffrey Patton (Carrowcroft); and Joyce McLean (Priestland).
The AGM formalities were concluded, and guest speaker Andrew Neilson gave members a detailed presentation about his family’s 350-cow Overside Herd.
Having left school at sixteen, Andrew embarked on an agricultural engineering course at college, followed by an apprenticeship at a tractor dealership, before taking up a position at the well-known Coopon Carse Farm near Newtownstewart for six months. He travelled to the USA and completed the AltaU intensive farm management course, before returning home to join the family partnership.
The Overside Herd comprises of 350 cows and 420 followers. The Neilson family have a liquid milk contract, and the herd average is over 12,000kgs at 4.1% butterfat and 3.45% protein. Heifers average 23.3 months of age at first calving; while the herd has an average PLI of £360, and a calving interval of 382 days.
The Neilson’s are focused on breeding long-lasting and functional cows, and have invested heavily is world-leading and prolific cow families. Andrew told the audience that his dad is passionate about cows, and prominent families in the herd include Della, Amanda, Apple, Ambrosia, Rae/Roxy, Crimson, Flo, Barbie, Ruby, Atlee, Zandra, Fleur, Regenia, Mae, Jessica, Elegance, Ashlyn and Emerald.
Cows currently milking in the herd are daughters of bulls such as Ryder Red, Mecca P, Elevated Red, Vader, Arena, Dreambig and Applejack. Heifers calving into the herd are bred from bulls including Lambda, Renegade, Parfect, Newman and Ferraro.
Heifers are contract-reared, and recent investments on the farm include a new calf shed. In the future the Neilson family are aiming to improve herd fertility, continue to improve efficiencies, maximise milk output per cubicle, further develop and improve the herd, and become more environmentally friendly.
Vice-chairman Jonny Lyons thanked Andrew Neilson for his interesting and informative presentation. Alex Walker presented Andrew with a token of Holstein NI’s appreciation.