The 2017 Dale Farm Milk Quality Improvement Awards, sponsored by Ulster Bank, were presented at Balmoral Show on Thursday 11th May.
The awards recognised the significant steps taken by Dale Farm dairy farmers to enhance the quality of their milk, with the overall award and top prize going to Norman Houston of Strabane, Co Tyrone.
In assessing milk quality improvement, the judging panel considered a range of factors including milk cleanliness (bactocount), udder health and mastitis level (Somatic Cell Count).
Results were then ranked against members’ previous year’s figures to determine the level of annual improvement.
Divided across four geographical areas, the following awards were presented:
Area 1: Raymond and Stuart Gillespie, Ahoghill, Co Antrim (winner) and Andrew Abraham, Muckamore, Co Antrim (runner up)
Area 2: Alan and Thomas Boyle, Ards, Co Down (winner) and John and Kenneth Johnston, Ballinderry (runner up)
Area 3: George and Nigel Graham, Kinawley, Co Fermanagh (winner) and Robert Scott, Tynan, Co Armagh (runner up)
Area 4: Norman Houston, Strabane, Co Tyrone (area winner and overall winner) and John Kyle, Upperlands, Maghera, Co Londonderry (runner up)
Speaking at the award presentation, Chairman of Dale Farm Cooperative John Dunlop, said: “Each year Balmoral Show presents us with an ideal opportunity to highlight the many positive steps our members take to run successful farming businesses – and for us, nothing is more important than the quality of the milk they supply.
“I would like to congratulate all the winners and runners up in this year’s awards and pay particular credit to Norman Houston, whose attention to detail has led to sustained quality and success at his 80-cow farm in Strabane over the past 12 months.”
Nick Whelan, Group Chief Executive of Dale Farm added: “Dale Farm’s top quality dairy products start with top quality milk, and through these awards we are celebrating the tremendous work that takes place daily across dairy farms in Northern Ireland. I commend all winners, runners up, and indeed our entire network of farmer members, for their ongoing commitment to excellence.”
Ulster Bank’s Director of Corporate Banking Stephen Hughes, added: “Ulster Bank is proud to once again be associated with these annual awards. Our support for the dairy industry is unwavering and we are particularly impressed by the professionalism and dedication shown by Dale Farm farmers year on year.”