Silage winners take centre stage in Larne Group

UFU Larne Group - Round Bale Winner 2018-19 Jonathan Crawford
UFU Larne Group - Round Bale Winner 2018-19 Jonathan Crawford

As the mornings and nights start to get a bit brighter, our series of winter group meetings and events draws to a close and we now look back at some of the events of note within the Larne Group.

In September, around 30 group members visited two distinctly different farms in Stranraer offering stark contrast between the hustle and bustle of Gary Mitchell’s busy dairy farm compared to the easy care system of Robert Parker’s Black Baldy’s beef herd. We are indebted to both farmers for their hospitality and time out to host the group.

As part of a wider fundraising effort in the Ulster Farmers’ Union centenary year, the group lent their support by running a breakfast morning at St John’s Masonic Centre in the town early in November.

With additional support from the Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Councillor Lindsay Millar, the event was well attended and thanks go to not only the Masonic Centre for hosting, but also to Marty McToal catering for keeping everyone well fed and watered. Between the Larne and Ballyclare groups we raised a total of £2,600 for the NI Air Ambulance.

In January, the group braved the cold to make the now annual trip to the Kingspan Stadium to watch Ulster. This time the Ulster men were in action against Benetton Treviso. Despite a try in the opening minute, it was a frustrating game of rugby for the home supporters that eventually led to a 17-17 draw.

The United Feeds Silage Competition got underway in January. This is run by the Ulster Farmers’ Union and we are indebted to Alan Boyd at United Feeds for carrying out our local group judging. We are proud to announce that for the four categories the Larne group now boasts four fantastic new trophies for our local winners which were presented at our February meeting by Chloe Kyle, Area Manager at YARA.

Thanks go to YARA UK for supporting the local group by providing the trophies, which we hope will be eagerly contested for years to come.

We are also proud to announce that Jonathan Crawford has qualified as one of the top six entrants to the round bale section in the regional judging of the United Feeds Competition and we wish him luck for that final round.

In addition, we had presentations during the year from a variety of speakers, some travelling quite a distance to attend and on behalf of the local group we are very thankful for all their input.

Finally, after just completing our AGM this month we would like to thank John Watt as our outgoing chairman for all the work he has put in to the group over the two years of his tenure. We in turn welcome Ryan McDowell as the new chairman with Alan Brennan as vice chairman and we look forward to what the future holds as the group plans ahead for the 2019/20 programme and beyond.

Many thanks to everyone who has supported the events throughout the year and to our local commodity representatives who add a local input to the various committees within the UFU structure.