This year’s final of the McLarnon Feeds/NISA Dairy Cow Championship, held at Antrim Show, proved to be a bigger and better occasion than ever before.
Large numbers of spectators packed a busy ringside to view the 14 cows present on the day, eagerly awaiting the judge’s final decision.
These cows represented the top dairy cows in Northern Ireland, from the province’s leading breeders. Having already qualified as winners at the local shows they were now battling it out for the ‘Dairy Cow of the Year 2015’ title.
With the quality of stock on display getting better every year, the decision as to who should be awarded this prestigious title does not get any easier. This year’s champion was selected by renowned Ayrshire breeder Mr Duncan Hunter, owner of the famous Haresfoot Herd based in Hertfordshire.
Duncan congratulated each of the exhibitors on qualifying for the final and gave an excellent commentary on each animal before selecting his final six. Duncan was suitably impressed with the quality of stock in the ring, remarking that this was one of the best line ups of dairy cows and finest display of udders he has ever had the privilege of judging.
After much deliberation, the championship was awarded to Matthew McLean from Bushmills, Co Antrim, with his Dairy Shorthorn, Marleycote Princess Jill 31st EX93. The judge described this cow as having “perfect balance, tremendous bone quality and depth of rib, and a superb mammary – the finest example of a Dairy Shorthorn I have ever seen”.
No stranger to show success, Jill was Dairy Shorthorn Champion at Balmoral in 2014 and is the reigning UK Dairy Expo Shorthorn Champion. She also has excellent production figures, currently yielding 40 kg/day at 5.17% BF and 3.78% Protein, and projected at 11,700kg for her 3rd lactation.
Narrowly beaten into second place, the Reserve Champion and Exhibitor-bred Champion awards were picked up by Clandeboye Estates, Bangor, with Clandeboye Jazzy Bambi EX92. The judge described this cow as having “tremendous length, perfect skin texture, and superb veination of an excellent udder”.
This year’s RUAS Reserve Champion Jersey is now in her 3rd lactation, having topped 7,600kg in her 2nd lactation at 5.2% Butterfat and 3.9% Protein.
The prize for Second Reserve Champion went to the McLean family, Bushmills, with their Holstein, Priestland 5235 PS James Rose VG89 2nd calver.
This second calver is yielding 40 kg/day at 4.58% BF and 3.47% Protein, and is projected to reach 10,800kg for the lactation. The judge was drawn by Rose’s “silky skin, excellent bone quality, and fantastic udder”.
Fourth prize went again to the McLean family, Bushmills, for Priestland 4951 Shot Bedazzle EX93. This third calver is currently yielding 56 kg/day at 4.5% BF and 3.16% Protein.
Philip and Simon Haffey, Lurgan, were placed fifth in the final line up with Glasson Shottle JG Gail EX93 (GPTI 2250).
This highly productive cow is projected to yield 11,500 kg for the lactation.
Sixth place, and the prize for Best Udder, were awarded to George and Jason Booth, Stewartstown, for their Holstein cow Clandeboye Shottle Willow EX93. Willow is currently giving 45 kg/day in her 4th lactation and is due to calve down again in February 2016.
On reflection, this year’s championship proved to be one of the most successful ever held.
Spectators had the privilege of viewing one of the best line ups of dairy animals seen on these shores.
David Mawhinney, McLarnon Feeds, thanked all the exhibitors for their time, effort and excellent stockmanship shown throughout this year’s Dairy Cow Championship.
Additional pictures, final line up results and a brochure are all available to view at www.mclarnonfeeds.com and on the Facebook page.