April 2012: Holstein breeders look back at another successful year
Club’s 13th annual general meeting held at Moira
Holstein Northern Ireland held its 13th annual general meeting earlier this week in Moira.
Outgoing chairman Alan Cleland welcomed club members from throughout the Province, and extended a warm welcome to guest speaker Tom Clinton from County Meath, and sponsors Gary Watson and Pat Donnelly from Dairy Herd Management.
Alan Cleland delivered the chairman’s report, outlining many of the club’s successful activities and events during his term in office. His resume highlighted the success of breeders at various shows including Emerald Expo, Balmoral and the RUAS Winter Fair. Another highlight of the year was the club’s annual judging day hosted by the Drumbo herd, which was closely followed by the presentation of awards for the annual Herds Inspection Competition, held in conjunction with farm visits to the Abercorn and Tailormaid herds in County Antrim.
In August Holstein NI hosted the Causeway Classic III which attracted a large number of trade stands and visitors, and saw prices peak at 10,000gns. Mr Cleland also acknowledged the strong demand experienced at Moira for Holstein heifers. The year rounded off with the recent Irish National Holstein Show which saw top honours going to Clandeboye Champion Francesca VG89 from Mark Logan at Clandeboye Estates in Bangor.
Club secretary and treasurer, John Martin, delivered the club’s annual report and accounts.
Crystal Awards for the supreme champions at the Provincial agricultural shows in 2011 were presented to the following members: Philip and Simon Haffey, Glasson Herd, Portadown, (Balmoral and Lurgan); John Patterson and Sons, Ballyginniff Herd, Crumlin, (Ballymena, Armagh and Antrim); Iain McLean, Priestland Herd, Bushmills, (Ballymoney and Londonderry/Limavady); Sam and John McCormick, Hilltara Herd, Bangor, (Saintfield); Jim Morrison and Sons, Inch Herd, Downpatrick, (Newry and Clogher); John Hunter, Carndreen Herd, Castlederg, (Omagh); Stephen Haffey and Sons, Kilvergan Herd, Lurgan, (Enniskillen); and Jim and Charlotte Stevenson, Newry Herd, Kilkeel, (Castlewellan).
Every year Holstein NI presents a special Award, in recognition of outstanding service and commitment to the club. This year’s award was presented to joint recipients Maeve Wilson from Clogher, and outgoing Holstein Young Breeders’ Club co-ordinator, Hilary Wilson from Newtownabbey.
The election of office bearers for the forthcoming year was conducted by Gary Watson, manager, Dairy Herd Management, United Dairy Farmers Ltd.
Office bearers for 2012/13 include: Chairman, Jay Warden, Ballygrainey Herd, Bangor; Vice-chairman, Sam McCormick, Hilltara Herd, Bangor; Secretary and Treasurer, John Martin, Kesh; HYB Co-ordinator, Jonathan Lyons, Skerryview Herd, Coleraine; and PRO, Julie Wallace, Antrim.
Five new committee members were elected to serve a three-year term. They include: Timothy Haffey, Kilvergan Herd, Lurgan; Denis O’Neill, Denholme Herd, Saintfield; Philip Haffey, Glasson Herd, Portadown; David Wilson, Gravelhill Herd, Newtownabbey; and William Crawford, Ardmore Herd, Brookeborough.
Mr Watson congratulated the new office bearers and committee members on their election, and praised the club and its young breeders for their numerous successes over the past year.
“Dairy Herd Management has attracted 90 new milk recording herds over the last two years, and our herd health testing service is rapidly expanding with over 200 herds participating in quarterly bulk tank testing for prevalent diseases such as Johnes, IBR and BVD. We have witnessed a significant increase in the number of website users who can access their milk recording results on-line; and we have also organised a number of IT training courses to help customers to improve their computer skills.
Gary Watson continued: ”In recent months Dairy Herd Management has been actively involved with veterinary and breeding companies in a number of workshops focusing on somatic cell count and udder health. In addition we also offer Herd Genetic Summary’s, and Heatime, an electronic heat detection system based on radio frequency technology.”
Guest speaker for the evening was former Irish Farmers’ Association president Tom Clinton from County Meath. He thanked Holstein NI for its kind invitation, and said that dairy farmers across the country were worrying about the future post the abolition of milk quotas in 2015.
Tom Clinton started farming at the age of 15, milking six cows. Fifty-one-years later he has gained valuable experience of the global dairy industry, and currently farms 300 hectares in southern Ireland where the family produces 2.7 million of litres of milk annually. They also have business interests in New Zealand, managing 2,500 dairy cows on 1,450 hectares of land.
Having travelled extensively Mr Clinton has world-wide experience of the dairy industry. His presentation gave a detailed outline of the world market and how it has changed in recent years.
“Over the last five years the price milk around the world has come together, and virtually everyone is selling their product for a similar price. I predict that production in Northern Ireland will increase by between 10 and 20 percent, and that the extra milk produced in Europe will be exported outside the Common Market to countries such as the Middle East, Far East and South America.
“The south of Ireland is set to increase its production within the next five to seven years, but it is clear that this will not have a significant impact as it only represents two per cent of the world market.
Mr Clinton highlighted that milk production in 2011 continued to increase in Argentina, Australia, Chile and New Zealand. “Since 2000 production has increased by approximately two per cent per annum across the world, while the market demand for milk has increased steadily. We are lucky that countries like China and India have taken a lot of the extra milk.”
Mr Clinton continued: ”Ten years ago whole milk powder was a small product, but it has came into focus and now 63.5 per cent of exported product comes from New Zealand, a country which has increased its production by over ten per cent in the last 15 months. It will continue to increase by a further three or four per cent in 2012/13. Meanwhile California has increased its production per cow, and its plants are dumping milk as they don’t have enough processing capacity.”
Mr Clinton predicted a 10 to 20 per cent drop in milk price (approx 5p/l) in 2012. “At 25p to 27.5p/l milk is profitable across the world, but if the price falls to 22p to 25p/l the production will drop as in 2009. The only cure is to stop extra production. Currently there is still a two per cent growth in consumption, but if that stops we have serious problems.”
He told members of Holstein NI that it was hard to sell into varying markets, especially when fluctuating currencies are involved. “However, Northern Ireland has a lot of positives in that it has a dairy industry which boasts farmers who are good at their business and want to stay in milk production. The country is also politically stable.
“On the downside the farms and the processing sector are fragmented, and in some cases there is a high level of debt on dairy farms. Most of the grain used in Northern Ireland is imported, and the country has a long winter, as well as 14 milk processors all competing for a slice of the cake!”
Summarising Tom Clinton said that milk price was not always going to be as good as it is today, but with family labour, the work ethic of farmers, and the willingness of lenders to accept one or two bad years, Northern Ireland should remain competitive in the marketplace.
“Farm owners in Northern Ireland have a big weakness – they are not good at handing down to the successor. The clock moves on and we should let the young ones at it as they can only learn by their mistakes.”
Concluding Mr Clinton also predicted that there would be a strong demand from the south for dairy stock bred in Northern Ireland, especially if the health status is right. “I bought a lot of my foundation stock from herds in Northern Ireland, but the big negative at present is the price of stock in the north. “
The AGM was drawn to a close by newly elected vice-chairman, Sam McCormick, who thanked Tom Clinton for his interesting insight and thoughts on the future of milk production globally.