The Castledale herd of pedigree British Friesians has just been announced overall winner of the UK British Friesian herds competition.
Based near Strangford the 200 strong herd belongs to the Stockdale family.
This is the second time in eight years they have brought this prestigious award back to Northern Ireland.
Not only did the Stockdales win this bi-annual event but they also managed to win the double, being awarded the Raby Herd Cup for the best overall cow having produced 50 tons or more of milk. The cow in question, Castledale Excelsior Empress 39, was a worthy winner being classified EX96, the highest scored cow in the breed today and having produced over 90 tons of milk in eleven lactations. Now due her twelfth calf she still calves on the same month every year.
The herd is managed on a simple system focusing on grazed grass, kale and grass silage. The grazing season is approximately ten months with an average of one ton of meal fed through the parlour. No diet feeder or out of parlour feeders are used. The herd average for 2017 was 7690 litres at 4.34% Butterfat and 3.42% Protein. All calves are retained and taken through to beef as steers finished off grass at 24 months.
Co-herd owner Gavin Stockdale commented: “We are extremely proud to bring these awards to Northern Ireland. The British Friesian is a long established breed and we feel very privileged to have won. We have always tried over the years to breed a balanced animal that is healthy and productive, producing quality milk from forage and a high value cull cow and beef calf. The British Friesian still fits modern dairy farming perfectly.”
Anybody interested in British Friesians can find out more by looking up the British Friesian Breeders Club website.