All roads will lead to Cloughmills on Saturday 22nd April for Holstein NI’s 2nd annual open day and stockjudging competition.
The one-day event runs from 11am to 4pm, and is hosted by the Smyth family, Mervyn, May, Gareth and Judith, who run the 150-cow Ballyweaney Herd at Hillcrest Farm, 10 Ballyportery Road, Cloughmills, BT44 9BN.
Generously supported by principal sponsors Lacpatrick and Ecosyl from Volac, the open day promises to be a fun-filled day for all members of the family.
Holstein NI chairman Tommy Henry said: “Everyone is welcome. The event will incorporate the club’s annual stockjudging competition, and we’ve organised an action-packed itinerary for visitors.”
Proceeds will be donated to the Perinatal Trust Fund at the Royal Victoria Hospital’s Neonatal Unit.
Gareth and Judith Smyth are the proud parents of twin sons Wallace and Austin. Born almost 16 weeks premature, the boys celebrated their first birthday on New Year’s Day.
Judith explained: “The RVH Neonatal Unit cares for premature and sick babies from all over Northern Ireland. It’s a charity very close to our hearts. Austin and Wallace weighed just 1lb 10ozs and 1lb 8ozs at birth.
“The twins spent the first few months of their lives in incubators in Intensive Care. It was a stressful and difficult time for the whole family, but thanks to the excellent facilities and specialist care provided by the medical professionals, they are miracle babies.”
Gareth added: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to host the open day and raise funds for the Perinatal Trust Fund. The Neonatal Unit is a specialist facility and we have great admiration for the vital services they provide on a daily basis.
“The money raised will help fund life-saving equipment and provide support and facilities for the parents of premature and sick babies.”
The Smyth family founded their dairy herd in 1992, purchasing 32 cows from the Grovehill Herd owned by David Kennedy and Son in County Down. In 2009 the herd was lost with BR.
The Ballyweany herd was re-established with the purchase of Fordwich Blackstar Agnes at the Holstein Causeway Classic at Balmoral. She is still breeding in the herd today. Numerous females were purchased from the Patterson family’s Bangor-based Ballycrochan Herd.
The 150-cow herd is averaging 8,755kgs at 4.02% butterfat and 3.2% protein.
Mervyn and Gareth are working towards compact autumn calving. Their breeding policy focuses on breeding for functional type, longevity and profitability.
Herd classifications include 21 EX, 67 VG and 10 VG 2yr.
Cow families at Ballyweaney include Kimo, Budjon, Ally, Pledge, Blackrose, Agnes, Chanel, Eliza, Zwartina, Roxie, Broker, Mandy, and the newest member Marla Red.
Visitors to the open day will have an opportunity to view a batch of first lactation heifers, and test their stockjudging skills by placing three classes of Holsteins – senior cows, junior cows and in-milk heifers.
Members of the NI Holstein Young Breeders’ Club will be competing for a place on the team taking part at the parent society’s National Competitions Day in Cheshire on 1st July.
Gareth Smyth said: “We have been overwhelmed by the support pledged from an array of businesses throughout the Province. More than 40 trade stands and craft stalls have confirmed their attendance. The schedule includes activities to suit all ages, with face painting, pony rides, bouncy castles, assault course and a quad bike train for the kids. Other attractions include a nail bar, cookery, flower arranging and jiving demonstrations.”
Items for the charity auction include two pedigree Holstein heifer calves, a signed Ulster rugby jersey, numerous straws of semen from internationally acclaimed AI sires, a three-point front linkage tractor weight, garden furniture, dairy chemicals, animal feeds and a host of other items.
The Smyth family has donated the March-born heifer Ballyweaney Supersire Kim. A potential ninth generation VG/EX by Seagull Bay Supersire, she is the sixth calf bred from the 4,000gns Derrydorragh Shottle Kimo EX94.
Neighbouring herd owner Conor Casey has donated the three-month-old heifer calf Carnhill Solaris Lepha PLI £373. Sired by Seagull Bay MJ Solaris ET, she is backed by seven generations of VG and EX dams, and is bred from Carnhill Planet Lepha EX90 whose son Carnhill Lofty, and grandson Carnhill Lord Leslie, were sold to Genus ABS.
Rathfriland pedigree breeder Andrew Magowan has donated an embryo from Bannwater Igniter Babs Nancy 23 EX91. It comes from a mixed flush using Braedale Goldwyn and Toc Farm Goldsun.
The farm will be signposted off the main A26 Frocess Road.