John and David Hunter of Hunters farm became the big winners in the inaugural LacPatrick Milk Quality awards held in Cookstown.
The Hunters farm in Newtownstewart picked up the Farm Development Award presented by rugby star Stephen Ferris at the awards ceremony attended by 200 LacPatrick suppliers.
The judges paid tribute to John and David, commending them for the rapid development of their farm from a beef/sheep unit to a grass-based dairy system in recent years.
The LacPatrick Milk Quality Awards saw dairy suppliers from across the LacPatrick milk pool being recognised for their top milk quality, quality assurance accreditation and farm development enterprises.
The awards consisted of seven categories ranging from milk hygiene through to farm development.
The in-depth judging process included detailed assessments against strict criteria as well as on-site farm inspections for the farm development award. Judges for the farm development award included Donal Patton (Teagasc), Martin Mulholland (CAFRE) and Robert McCullough (Danske Bank).
The judges confirmed the exceptionally high standard of the Development Award finalists stating that the judging process was extremely difficult for the Farm Development award due to the high calibre of finalists put forward.
Martin Mulholland commented: “Seeing first-hand the incredibly hard work undertaken each day by the suppliers and their families was a real eye-opener.
“All of the finalists demonstrated a remarkable drive to supply quality milk day after day and they should be very proud of the work they do.
“The decision was incredibly difficult but as a recent entrant to dairy farming David Hunter, with support from his father John, has already developed a very productive and progressive dairy farm making maximum use of the resources available to him.”
The awards ceremony kicked off with a drinks reception followed by a three-course dinner and award presentations. The evening was rounded off with a guest appearance from renowned retired British and Irish Lion, Stephen Ferris who recounted standout moments from his remarkable career.
Andrew McConkey, LacPatrick Chairman commented: “The inaugural LacPatrick Co-op milk quality awards serve to acknowledge and encourage the excellence of milk quality of our suppliers across the region.
“A milk pool of the highest quality and standard is the cornerstone in which every other aspect of the business is built and relies.
“It is fitting that we hold these awards to celebrate the commitment and endeavour of our suppliers.
“Congratulations to John and David Hunter and indeed to all of the winners and finalists for the extremely high standards that they have attained.”
The overall winners included:
Lowest somatic cell count (SCC) – Billy Dawson, Monaghan
Lowest total bacteria count (TBC) – John and Samuel McCaughan, Co Londonderry
Milk solids improvement ROI – Neville Reid, Monaghan
Milk solids improvement NI – David Armstrong, Co Tyrone
Quality assurance award ROI- David McCoy, Monaghan
Quality assurance award NI - Sean McNaughton, Co Antrim
Farm development award – John and David Hunter, Co Tyrone
With a roster of more than 1050 farmers and employing 300 people, LacPatrick delivers 600 million litres of milk annually. Combining rich heritage and innovative production facilities, LacPatrick products are exported and enjoyed across the world.