DALE Farm brought back its Balmoral Show farmer awards this year following a pandemic-enforced br-eak from the calendar.
The Dale Farm Milk Quality Improvement Awards, sponsored by Ulster Bank, were presented at the Dale Farm Marquee at Balmoral, recognising six farmers across three categories for their impressive results in enhancing milk quality.
The overall winner was named as Steven Houston of Glarryford, County Antrim. The three categories in the awards were New Entrant, ‘Under one million litres’ and ‘Over one million litres’.
Winner of the New Entrant category was Cathal Nugent, Donaghmore. Cathal commenced milk production in February 2020, having converted the beef and sheep unit to accommodate 80 Fleckveih cows milked through a 12 point parlour. He attributes the improvement in milk quality to genetics and having a nutritionist fine tune his diets and feed rates.
Runner-up in the New Entrant category was John Morton, Armagh. Milk quality has steadily improved at John’s farm, which he attributes to attention to detail regarding nutrition.
Marshall Patton, Ballymoney, topped the ‘Under one million litres’ category. Marshall made the decision in 2007 to move to robotic milking with cows having access to grazing day and night all summer. Marshall has introduced Jersey genetics to help with components and crosses the half-bred cows back to Holstein to maintain production.
Milk quality has steadily risen in recent years to average 4.49 per cent butterfat and 3.40 per cent protein.
Runner-up in the ‘Under one million litres’ category was Bill
Mehaffy, Strabane. Bill’s improve-ment in quality is attributed to silage quality, longer chop length and incorporating Monte-belliarde, Brown Swiss and
As well as scooping the overall award, Steven Houston, Glarryford, was named winner of the ‘Over one million litres’ category. Steven milks 170 cows and operates an autumn/winter calving system.
A true family farm, Steven took over the running of the business six years ago. He has since introduced a three-way cross with Friesian, Norwegian Red and Danish/New Zealand Jersey genetics all playing a part. In the past three years he has increased butterfat by 0.39 per cent and protein by 0.07 per cent.
Runner-up in the ‘Over one million litres’ category was Robin McAdoo, Cookstown. Robin att-
ributes his improvements to
working closely with his nutritionist, breeding robust cows and keeping the herd young.
Speaking at the awards, Dale Farm Chair Fred Allen said: “Dale Farm has always held its Farmer Awards at Balmoral Show and we are delighted to see them return to the schedule this year. It is an ideal opportunity to highlight the many positive things our members are doing on farm.
“Dale Farm has won over 100 international awards in recognition of the quality of our cheese, butter and wider dairy portfolio. Maintaining that standard is thanks to having a sustainable supply of high quality milk from our farmer members. This year we chose to recognise milk quality at our awards, as it is so central to the success of our cooperative.
“The winners and runners-up
each demonstrate a commit-ment to improvement, an eye
for technical detail and a determination to achieve the best milk from their herd.
“Congratulations to all – with a special mention to our overall winner Steven Houston of Glarry-ford, who has demonstrated his clear vision for the herd and, despite challenges, has seen milk components improve significantly in the last three years.”
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