The countdown is on ahead of the 2017 Holstein Celebration and AGM which takes place later this month in Northern Ireland.
The two-day event on 28th and 29th June will showcase top-class genetics and award-winning grassland management.
Delegates from throughout the UK and Ireland will also have an opportunity to visit several of the Province’s most popular tourist attractions and feast on its culinary delights.
Holstein NI chairman Tommy Henry said: “Plans are well underway for the big event. We are privileged to host the Holstein Celebration and AGM, which coincides with David Perry’s election as Holstein UK President.
“It’s a great honour for Holstein NI, as David Perry from Ahoghill is only the third local breeder, in over 100 years of society history, to hold this highly esteemed position. He follows in the footsteps of Wilbert Rankin from Templepatrick, and the late Sam Wilson.”
Tommy Henry added: “We are looking forward to welcoming Holstein enthusiasts from across Great Britain and Ireland, and have organised an action-packed itinerary. We are also inviting local club members and commercial herd owners to participate in the farm visits.”
Two award-winning family farms will open their gates to visitors on Wednesday 28th June.
Kicking off the Holstein Celebration from 10am to noon will be a visit to the Wallace family’s Abercorn Herd in Antrim. Ashdale Farm comprises of 300 acres and is synonymous with award-winning silage and grassland management.
Alan Wallace was the 2016 Ulster Grassland Farmer of the Year, and 2015 and 2016 alternative forages winner of the UFU/Ecosyl national silage competition.
More than 75% of the herd is classified VG or EX, and annual milk sales are 9,211 litres per cow at 4.04% butterfat and 3.24% protein with a calving interval of 398 days.
The herd started grading up in 1963, and its breeding policy focuses on longevity, udders, legs and feet, with AI sires selected for positive components and fertility traits. The aim is to breed farmer-friendly and productive cows that can eat large volumes of grass and produce milk economically. The farm is currently producing 3,640 litres of milk from forage.
The visit to the McCann family’s noted 180-cow Simlahill Herd in Bangor is scheduled to take place from 1pm to 4pm.
Founded in 1990, the Simlahill Herd is one of the top classified herds in the UK, and was awarded Master Breeder status in 2014.
Cows are managed in one group and summer grazed day and night from April to mid-October weather permitting.
Holstein NI secretary John Martin added: “We are looking forward to showcasing two high-ranking farms. Northern Ireland is renowned for its lush green grass, and we have selected two well-managed dairy units which maximise the potential of their natural resources.
“During the Simlahill visit we will present the awards for the annual herds inspection competition sponsored by Ulster Bank. Judges have been busy visiting more than 60 herds and selecting the top-placed competitors in the junior, senior and premier categories of the competition.”
John Martin added: “We extend a warm welcome to everyone to join Northern Ireland’s Holstein Celebration. Tickets for our Gala Dinner on the final evening are almost sold out, but there are a limited number of tickets still available for the Irish-themed evening at Galgorm on Wednesday 28th June.”
Holstein NI is indebted to the various local businesses who have advertised in the respective herd brochures. “There will be several trade stands, and free refreshments and lunch will be provided throughout the day.
“Special thanks to Cookstown Dairy Services and Trioliet for their generous financial support. We are also grateful to Lakeland Dairies and Clandeboye Estate who are providing ice-cream and yoghurt for the event.”
Farmers in the west of the Province can avail of a coach trip which has been organised in association with Borderline Coaches. Departing Irvinestown at 7.45am, the coach costs £15 per person and will pick up at Enniskillen, Maguiresbridge, Fivemiletown, Ballygawley and Dungannon Farmers’ Mart.
All enquiries about the forthcoming Holstein Celebration should be directed to Holstein NI tel: 028 8772 7728, or John Martin on mobile 07711 041128.
The farms will be signposted from all main approach roads in the surrounding areas. Ashdale Farm is situated at 9 Carmavy Lane, Antrim, BT41 4QX; while the McCann family’s Ballysallagh House is situated at 51 Ballysallagh Road, Bangor, BT19 1UT.