GEORGE Hammond, late of the Ballymaguire Holstein herd, passed away on November 5, 2019.
George was born on the June 20, 1931, and was one of a family of eight, with brothers James, Jonny, Samuel, Stewart and Bobby, and sisters Eileen and Joan. His father Thomas purchased the Ballymaguire farm c. 1943, moving from Luney in Magherafelt.
George had an interest in breeding dairy cattle and in late 1963 he purchased the pure-bred Friesian bull Salwick Bahrain, bred by Frank Loftus from Essex. Being proud of his purchase George had great success with this bull on the Northern Ireland show circuit during 1965, 1966 and 1967.
Exhibited eleven times in Ulster, Salwick Bahrain was awarded the supreme championship on all occasions, and crowned male champion at Balmoral Show in 1967.
On record today there are 642 progeny registered from Salwick Bahrain, and three of probably the best-known daughters were
Ballymaguire Ruby 6 and Bally-maguire Ruby 7, believed to be the first twins classified excellent under the society scheme, and Ravenhill Bahn Leone, Royal Dublin Society female champion in 1971.
It is recounted that at a particular show where Ravenhill Bann Leone had lifted top honours a group of spectators were looking at her and one turned to George and asked, “Do you know the sire of that cow?” “Yes,” came the reply, “I fed him this morning!”
George, being recognised as a keen breeder, was elected to the committee of the NI Friesian Breeders’ Club where he attended and contributed conscientiously to develop the breed in Northern Ireland. It was during these years that the first club trip to Canada was organised to visit the Winter Fair in 1972, with numerous high-profile farm visits included. George Hammond was one of 30
farmers who attended.
He returned home having purchased a bull sired by Bond Haven R A Tyson out of the dam Bond Haven Telstar May. This was one of the early imports of Holstein bloodlines to the Province, and the bull was named Ballymaguire Telstar on his entry to the UK herd book. Over 140 progeny have been registered to this bull across many herds, but within the Ballymaguire herd it was the beginning of a new era.
Combining his love for dairy cattle with sheep, George in the early 80s was a committee member of the NI Suffolk Sheep Society, and in 1986 was a founding member of the NI Charollais Sheep Breeders’ Club.
In 1979 George married Doreen, becoming a step-father to Norman and David. Doreen passed away in January 1998 and was sadly missed. Norman inherited the Ballymaguire Herd in 2017, following the death of George’s brother and business partner Jonny Hammond.
George was a friend and mentor to many, myself included, and leaves many fond memories with all those who knew him.
John Martin, Holstein UK