June 2014: Master Breeder Award for Simlahill Holstein Herd
The Bangor-based Simlahill Herd owned by Jim and Nicholas McCann has received a Master Breeder Award from Holstein UK.
The 180-cow herd founded in 1990 is one of four UK herds to qualify for the prestigious award so far this year.
Holstein NI secretary John Martin said:”The Master Breeder Award is testimony to the quality and longevity of the Simlahill Herd. To qualify for the award herds must classify regularly, as the criteria takes into account all home-bred animals which have completed a 305-day lactation in the previous 12 months.
“Points are awarded for classification, production and longevity, and the whole herd must attain an average of four points. It’s not easy to achieve four points, especially as it’s the older animals that rack up the points to compensate for the younger ones. In many herds the old matrons include purchased animals, which don’t count, as only home-bred animals which have calved at least twice are taken into account.”
In the April edition of the Holstein Journal the Simlahill herd was listed as one of the top classified herds in the UK, and the highest placed in Northern Ireland.
The Simlahill prefix boasts an EX classification of 36%, and has 59 cows bred from six or more generations of VG and EX dams. Some of the well-known families in the mix include Oralie, Roxy, Lola and Dellia.
Over the last five years the majority of heifers at Simlahilll have scored VG, while 37% have scored GP, resulting in an average heifer score of just over 85 points.
The herd’s overall average classification score is almost 88 points, representing an increase of three points since 2000.
The County-Down based Simlahill herd was the winner of Holstein NI’s Ulster Bank-sponsored Herds Inspection Competition in 2012, and runner-up in 2013.
Many herds fail to meet the standard required for Holstein UK’s Master Breeder Award. Last year nine herds met the criteria, with ten securing the award in 2012.
Herds in Northern Ireland account for almost 20% of the Master Breeder Awards presented by Holstein UK – that’s 13 awards out of a total of 66.
Other local herds which have achieved Master Breeder status include: Jim Stevenson’s Newry herd based at Kilkeel (2001 and 2012); Robert Wallace’s Alderview herd, Antrim (2002); Jim Morrison’s Inch herd, Downpatrick (2002); Ronald McLean and Sons’ Relough herd, Donaghmore (2006); William Crawford’s Ardmore herd, Brookeborough (2008); Lady Dufferin’s Clandeboye herd, Bangor (2008); Austin and David Perry’s Killane herd, Ahoghill (2008); Austin Alexander’s Fiddlersgreen herd, Newcastle (2009); Ian and Kenny Watson’s Majestic herd, Coleraine (2010); Willard and Adam Watson’s Derrydorragh herd, Coleraine (2010); and Andrew Magowan’s Bannwater herd, Rathfriland (2012).