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April 2015: Hostein NI hosts 16th AGM at Moira

County Londonderry dairy farmer Stuart Smith was elected chairman of Holstein Northern Ireland at its 16th annual general meeting, held at Moira.

“It is a privilege to be elected chairman,” said Stuart who hails from the noted Prehen herd which is synonymous throughout the UK and further afield for its high ranking genomic PLI Froukje family.

The newly elected vice chairman is John Berry from Armagh, who runs the noted Skybrook herd and is Northern Ireland area manager for Semex.

The election of office bearers was conducted by Gary Watson from Dairy Herd Management sponsor of the AGM.

Members elected to serve on the committee for a three-year term include: Jason Booth, Beechview Herd, Stewartstown; Malcolm McLean, Relough Herd, Donaghmore; Adam Watson, Derrydorragh Herd, Coleraine; Geoffrey Patton, Carrowcroft Herd, Carrowdore; and Sam Wadsworth, Glenwood Herd, Lisburn.

John Martin was re-elected as secretary/treasurer, and Andrew Kennedy was re-elected as Holstein Young Breeders’ Club co-ordinator.

Gary Watson congratulated Holstein NI on another successful year, and highlighted the ongoing success of the NI Holstein Young Breeders’ Club.

During his presentation Gary Watson gave an overview of the Dairy Herd Management business, citing some of the current growth areas. “There are a wealth of options now available through milk recording, particularly in terms of herd health testing.

“Johnes disease is prevalent, and in recent years we have experienced an increase in the number of dairy farmers joining the whole herd testing programme. It gives clients a handle on their current Johnes situation, and with the help of their vet, allows them to implement an action plan for disease control.”

Gary also outlined recent fertility trends within milk recorded herds, and explained the importance of the recording service and PD information.

“PregCheck is the new pregnancy diagnosis service available from Dairy Herd Management. The milk recording sample can be used to accurately identify a pregnancy 36 days after service. Farmers can opt to automate the system, or simply give the milk recorder a list of cows to be tested.”

Gary Watson concluded by telling members about the electronic heat detection system, Heatime. He explained how Heatime has evolved in recent years to an aerial-based system, and includes innovative new options such as rumination.

“The demand for rumination information has been driven by an ability to not only detect sick cows earlier, but also by its ability to detect cows that are in calving distress. The system can send notification to a mobile phone to alert farmers when a cow is calving.

Club secretary and treasurer John Martin delivered a healthy financial report, while outgoing chairman Gaston Wallace gave a resume of the club’s activities throughout the past twelve months.

Highlights of 2014/15 included the club’s annual judging day hosted by the 300-cow Bellemont herd owned by Norman McCollum and family, Coleraine; Balmoral Show which was won by David and Kenny Boyd’s 4th calver Glaslough Miss Petra; the annual herds inspection competition sponsored by Ulster Bank; the farm walk and BBQ hosted by the Perry family’s Killane herd at Ahoghill; the HYB calf show held at Moira; the 16th annual dinner; the two-day trip to the inaugural UK Dairy Day at Telford which included visits to the Woodmarsh, Wyndford and Hawksmoor herds; and the Irish National Holstein Show at Moira, which was won for the second successive year by Glaslough Miss Petra.

Gaston Wallace added: “Congratulations to the Holstein Young Breeders’ Club on another successful year. They continue to fly the flag at national and international level. The Northern Ireland A team won the field to foto competition for the fourth year in succession at the National Weekend Rally, and several members picked up individual awards.

“For the first time in ten years the NI HYB took a team of calves to the All-Britain Calf Show at Malvern in Worcestershire. The NI team was placed second overall.

He continued: “John McLean from Bushmills was one of seven HYB members selected to represent the UK at the European Young Breeders’ School in Belgium.  At international level Mark Henry from Stranocum was the overall winner of the senior section at Cremona Show in Italy, having won first places in both the clipping and showmanship competitions. Andrew Patterson, Crumlin, and Scott McLean, Coleraine, were named as finalists in the Cogent Futures Programme. William Bolton from Maghera was the highest placed senior competitor at the IHFA Open Day in County Leitrim.

“Northern Ireland is hosting the Weekend Rally in 2017, and to date the HYB have hosted two embryo auctions as part of their fund raising campaign. Thanks to everyone who donated and purchased embryos.”

“Also worthy of a special mention are club members Jim and Nicholas McCann, Simlahill Herd, Bangor, who received a Master Breed Award from Holstein UK; and Sam McCormick from the Hillltara Herd, Bangor, who was the recipient of the prestigious Dennison Award.”

Gaston Wallace concluded:”A special word of thanks to our sponsors for their continued financial support.”

Crystal awards were presented to members who had exhibited breed champions at provincial shows in 2014. They include: Balmoral Show, David and Kenny Boyd, Glaslough; Ballymena, Ballymoney, Omagh and Enniskillen Shows, Iain and Joyce McLean, Bushmills; Lurgan Show, Philip and Simon Haffey, Portadown; Armagh and Clogher Shows, George and Jason Booth, Stewartstown; Newry Show, Steven Robinson, Crossgar; Castlewellan Show, the late Aubrey Patterson, Bangor; Saintfield Show, Tom McKnight, Lisburn; and Limavady/Londonderry Show, Cyril and Martin Millar, Coleraine.

Public relations officer and events co-ordinator Julie Wallace received the Club Award.

Guest speaker for the evening was Richard Pilkington from the 250-cow Aintree Herd based at Shordley Hall, Wrexham, North Wales.

Richard, and wife Ruth, farm a total of 850 acres, and other enterprises on the farm include a flock of 650 ewes, 15 Red Devon suckler cows, and a 15-stable horse livery business.

Formerly the herd was one of a limited number of UK dairy farms receiving a premium for producing A2 milk. The herd had to undergo DNA testing to identify the cows producing natural A2 beta-casein protein. A2 protein is proven to be gentle on the stomach, and eliminates digestive upsets which many people associate with milk intolerance.

Producing over 2.5 million litres, the Aintree Herd was milked three times daily from October 2012 to December 2014. “With falling milk prices we decided to challenge everything, and as a result we switched back to milking twice a day, and have reduced feed costs. We have also culled older cows and are keeping more heifers, resulting in a more youthful herd.

Innovation on the farm includes the use of solar panels, fans to circulate fresh air in the sheds, rumination collars on youngstock and milking herd, ADF automatic cluster flush, automatic calf feeder, and the use of a state-of-the-art calving sensor. Zero grazing has recently been introduced.

Newly elected vice chairman John Berry proposed the vote of thanks:”Thank you for the detailed insight into the daily management of the Aintree herd. With falling milk prices we all need to adapt and reduce overheads, and its impressive see the number of changes you have made to keep the business profitable.”
•Members of Holstein NI will have an opportunity to visit the Aintree herd later this year. It is one of three herds which will be included in the club’s two-day trip to UK Dairy Day in September. Contact John Martin on mobile 07711 041128 for further details.

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Guest speaker Richard Pilkington, and his wife Ruth, from Wrexham, receive a token of appreciation from newly elected Holstein NI chairman Stuart Smith; and Gary Watson, Dairy Herd Management, sponsor of the AGM.

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Office bearers pictured at Holstein NI's AGM, Moira, are from left: John Martin, Kesh, secretary/treasurer; Stuart Smith, Londonderry, chairman; and John Berry, Armagh, vice chairman.

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Outgoing chairman Gaston Wallace presents the Holstein NI Club Award to Julie Wallace, Antrim.

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Gary Watson, Dairy Herd Management, second right, is pictured at Holstein NI's AGM with newly elected committee members Malcolm McLean, Donaghmore; Jason Booth, Stewartstown; and Sam Wadsworth, Lisburn. Missing from the picture are Adam Watson, Coleraine; and Geoffrey Patton, Carrowdore.

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Championship winners at provincial shows in 2014 included, front row, from left: Jason Booth, Stewartstown; John McLean, Bushmills; and Tom McKnight, Lisburn. Back row, from left: Steven Robinson, Crossgar; Martin Millar, Coleraine; and Philip Haffey, Portadown.

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