Dairy farming excellence celebrated at Balmoral

1. Pictured is Chris Hamilton from Carrowdore receiving the New Entrant award
1. Pictured is Chris Hamilton from Carrowdore receiving the New Entrant award

The excellence of the Northern Ireland dairy industry was celebrated at Balmoral Show this week, with the 2019 Dale Farm Dairy Herd Fertility Awards, sponsored by Ulster Bank, being presented on Thursday, May 16.

These awards recognise the innovative steps taken by Dale Farm farmer members to improve herd fertility.

Pictured are Alan and Lorraine Johnston and family from Newtownhamilton, receiving runner up in the up to 7,000 litres category

Pictured are Alan and Lorraine Johnston and family from Newtownhamilton, receiving runner up in the up to 7,000 litres category

The overall award and top prize went to Kenny, Matthew and James Alcorn of Omagh, Co Tyrone.

The judging panel screened all members using Dale Farm’s Dairy Herd Management system and selected those with a calving index under 380 days, showing year on year improvement and a replacement rate of 25% or less. Those farms were then cross-checked with their milk quality results.

Farm visits were undertaken by Dale Farm to view production systems and determine the key management factors and development steps implemented over the past three years to result in improved herd fertility.

Seven finalists received awards in total. These were:

Pictured are Hugh and Thompson Harbison from Aghadowey receiving the 7,000 - 8,000 litre award

Pictured are Hugh and Thompson Harbison from Aghadowey receiving the 7,000 - 8,000 litre award

New entrant winner – Chris Hamilton (Carrowdore)

Up to 7,000 litres/cow runner up – Alan Johnston (Newtownhamilton)

Up to 7,000 litres/cow winner – John, Philip and Barry Meeke (Dromara)

7,000 - 8,000 litres/cow runner up – Mark Robinson (Dungiven)

Pictured are Philip, Aaron, Sarah and Barry Meeke from Dromara receiving the up to 7,000 litres award on behalf of the Meeke family

Pictured are Philip, Aaron, Sarah and Barry Meeke from Dromara receiving the up to 7,000 litres award on behalf of the Meeke family

7,000 – 8,000 litres/cow winner – Hugh Harbison (Aghadowey)

Over 8,000 litres/cow runner up – John Millar (Dunadry)

Over 8,000 litres/cow winner and overall winner- Kenny, Matthew and James Alcorn (Omagh)

Speaking at the awards presentation, chairman of Dale Farm Group John Dunlop, said: “Once again, Balmoral Show has provided Dale Farm with the ideal opportunity to recognise and reward the world-class quality of dairy farming amongst our members. Their continual innovation and commitment to quality drives the success of our cooperative.

Pictured are Pamela and Jack Robinson from Dungiven, receiving runner up in the 7,000 - 8,000 litres category on behalf of Mark Robinson.

Pictured are Pamela and Jack Robinson from Dungiven, receiving runner up in the 7,000 - 8,000 litres category on behalf of Mark Robinson.

“I would like to congratulate all winners in this year’s awards and pay particular tribute to the Alcorn family, whose focus on enhancing fertility has resulted in a productive and sustainable herd.”

Ulster Bank’s director of corporate banking Stephen Hughes added: “Ulster Bank is proud to once again sponsor the Dale Farm Dairy Herd Fertility Awards at Balmoral Show – a true testament to the quality of dairy farming here in Northern Ireland.”

Pictured is John Millar and family from Dunadry, receiving runner up in the over 8,000 litres category

Pictured is John Millar and family from Dunadry, receiving runner up in the over 8,000 litres category

Pictured is Matthew Alcorn and family from Omagh, receiving the awards for overall winner and the over 8,000 litres category on behalf of Matthew, Kenny and James Alcorn

Pictured is Matthew Alcorn and family from Omagh, receiving the awards for overall winner and the over 8,000 litres category on behalf of Matthew, Kenny and James Alcorn