The McLean family’s noted Relough Herd at Dungannon has been ranked at the top of the Holstein Northern Ireland Premiership.
The 300-cow herd was crowned ‘cream of the crop’ in Holstein NI’s 2018 Herds Inspection Competition, sponsored by Ulster Bank.
The awards were presented this week, at the club’s stockjudging event hosted by the Priestland Herd at Bushmills.
Founded by Ronald McLean more than 60 years ago, the Relough Herd is managed by sons Malcolm and Barry, with increasing influence from the third generation, Andrew and Jordan.
Twice recipient of Holstein UK’s Master Breeder Award (2006 and 2017), the herd is currently averaging 11,500kgs at 4.1% butterfat and 3.2% protein on three times a day milking.
Sires such as Picston Shottle, the NI-bred Prehen Omen, and more recently Cogent Supershot, have had a positive impact on the Relough herd, which comprises of 93EX, 142VG and 28GP 2yr females.
The breeding policy at Relough focuses on producing bulls, and bull dams, that will attract interest from international AI studs. There are a number of Relough bulls at stud throughout the UK and Europe, and semen has been sold as far afield as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and more recently Chile.
Relough bulls currently available through AI are bred from ten different cow families, with many coming from the highly successful home-bred Danna family. Other successful cow families include Amy, Crimson, Lila, Frances, Raven and Roxie.
Relough’s list of competition awards included best bull progeny group, runner-up in best senior cow category, and runner-up in best cow family group.
The competition’s premier herd judge Andrew Hull from in Lancashire said: “The Relough Herd is exceptional. It is a very uniform herd of cows, and when I judged the competition in June they had been averaging 40 litres per day over a three-month period.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Holstein NI for its invitation. It was a pleasure to judge such a great competition, and the hospitality during my visit was excellent. The standard of entries was unbelievable, and I enjoyed seeing some great herds and superb individual animals. The large herd section really stood out, and I had a difficult task trying to split the top four herds - they were very close.”
Holstein NI’s herds inspection competition has been sponsored by Ulster Bank for more than 20 years, and continues to attract an unprecedented number of entries annually. Club secretary John Martin confirmed that almost 70 herds participated in this year’s competition.
The junior section of the competition was judged by Jim Stevenson from the noted Newry Herd based at Kilkeel. He said: ”The standard was amazing from start to finish, and the placings in each category are incredibly close. There were a number of new entrants this year which really enhanced the calibre of the competition.”
The award for the best overall herd in the junior section went to Norman and David McNaugher’s Mullaugher prefix based at Aghadowey. They also won the awards for the best heifer, and best senior cow.
Cyril Gibson’s Glenure Herd at Beragh, County Tyrone, was named best new entrant in the junior section, and also claimed the award for the best bull progeny group.
David Wallace from the Antrim-based Abercorn Herd was tasked with judging the senior section of the 2018 competition. “It was an honour to have the opportunity to judge this year’s senior herd section. I spent an enjoyable four-days travelling around the country visiting numerous great herds with super individual animals.”