It was a great honour to have been invited to judge the Winter Fair in Reid, Austria.
The fair consisted of seven classes of cows and heifers, with eight animals in each class.
Johanna Schachinger was a great help during the judging assisting me with translation.
I was very impressed by the extremely high level of animals on show during the fair.
It is so different from our Winter Fair. The commentator was a news reader from Austrian TV who would brighten any farmer’s day. The Agriculture Minister was also in attendance and handed out the rosettes to the prize winners. Farmers are held in very high esteem in Austria and are central to the rural community. During the interval there was a display of Irish dancing and music by Scottish Pipers in our honour.
Now about the judging
It is now 10 years since I first visited Austria and it is very noticeable that the udder quality of the Fleckvieh has progressed. Heifers with super udders mainly by Wille or Wadbrand dominated the first three classes. As I moved through the classes seeing second, third, fourth and fifth lactation cows it was very interesting to see how well the Fleckvieh cows matured.
The cow which stood out for me in the show was the winner of the fifth lactation class called Arona by Austrian bull Leon. The size and power of this cow was breathtaking, however more important was her production figures. Her five lactation average was 11,447 litres and in her third lactation she gave 12,282 litres at 4.77% butter fat and 3.72% protein, with a total of a 1043 kgs of fat and protein.
Slatequarry Fleckvieh are holding their annual sale on Friday 20th February in Dungannon Farmers Mart, consisting of 20 milking heifers, 20 heifer calves and 12 high genomic tested Austrian bulls.
Ten years ago Slatequarry Farm milked 100 Holstein cows averaging 7500 litres, at 3.81% Fat and 3.18% Protein. Over the last 10 years the herd has grown to consist of 200 Fleckvieh cows and 100 Fleckvieh heifers average 8600 litres at 4.25% Fat and 3.52% Protein, with a 370 day calving index. Fleckvieh benefits include bull calves selling at home for £250, a 3 pence per litre quality bonus and a valuable cull cow to sell. All of these points will be a great help in seeing us through the current drop in milk prices.