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May 2015: Willofarm herd hosts Holstein NI stockjudging competition

A good turnout of Holstein NI members put their skills to the test at the club’s recent stockjudging competition, hosted this year by the Throne family’s Willofarm Herd.

The Willofarm prefix dates back to the early 1970s when the existing herd was graded-up. Foundation females were also purchased from several of the country’s leading herds including Smiddiehill, Barbican, Hyland and Ballybeeny. 

The herd currently comprises of 130 cows with an average yield of 11,266kgs at 3.76% butterfat and 3.12% protein. They are milked three times daily from December to the end of July, with David and Gary switching to twice-a-day milking for the remainder of the year.

The herd’s main cow families include Roxy from Hanoverhill, Kitty from Newroddige, Iris from Hyland, Royalty from Hayleys, Roza from Ijsselvliedt in Holland, and the highly acclaimed Ambrosia family.

Master judge David Boyd from the noted Glaslough Herd in County Monaghan, thanked Holstein NI for its invitation, and said it was a pleasure to visit such a high calibre herd. “The four classes presented a challenge for the young and experienced judges taking part in the competition.

“I am delighted to see a large turnout of members, especially from the Holstein Young Breeders’ Club. They were very competitive, and their structured reasoning skills were excellent.”

The event, generously sponsored by forage inoculant giant Ecosyl, is organised annually to give HYB members an opportunity to qualify to represent Northern Ireland at the parent society’s National Competitions Day.

HYB co-ordinator Andrew Kennedy said:”A big thank you to the Damm, Hilltara and Beechview Herds, who hosted stockjudging practices ahead of the final. Each competitor’s highest score from the practice session is added to today’s score, and the top-placed individuals in each category will go forward to the national finals.”

“Thanks also to our coaches and mentors Ashley Fleming and Mark Logan for their dedication and assistance during the practice nights.”

HYB co-ordinator Andrew Kennedy announced the winners in each hotly contested category:

HYB Junior class – 1, Brian Weatherup, Carrickfergus; 2, Tom McKnight, Lisburn; 3, John Hamilton, Bangor.

HYB Intermediate class – 1, David McAllister, Dervock; 2, Matthew McLean, Bushmills; 3, Mark Henry, Stranocum.

HYB Senior class – 1, William Bolton, Maghera; 2, Lindsay Fleming, Seaforde; 3, Andrew Patton, Newtownards.

Open Senior class – 1, John Patterson, Crumlin; 2, Stuart Smith, Londonderry; 3, William Hunter, Castlederg.

The 2015 National Competitions Day takes place on Saturday 13th June at the Overseal Herd, property of Messrs JE and EM Marshall, Woodside Farm, Linton, Swadlincote Derbyshire.

The HYB stockjudging team representing Northern Ireland includes: Junior – Brian Weatherup, Carrickfergus, and Tom McKnight, Lisburn; Intermediate –David McAllister, Dervock, and Mark Henry, Stranocum; Senior – Lindsay Fleming, Seaforde, and Andrew Patton Newtownards.

Northern Ireland’s linear judging team qualifiers are: Junior – Brian Weatherup, Carrickfergus, and reserve Tom McKnight, Lisburn; Intermediate – David McAllister, Dervock, and reserve Matthew McLean, Bushmills; Senior – William Bolton, Maghera, and reserve Lindsay Fleming, Seaforde.

Holstein NI chairman Stuart Smith thanked the Throne family for their hospitality, and David Boyd for giving up his time to act as master judge.

“We’ve had a very enjoyable day, and thanks again to our sponsors Derek Nelson and Noel McGrath from Ecosyl, and to everyone who contributed the successful running of this year’s competition.”

“A special word of thanks to Thompsons and Holden Agriculture who sponsored the lunch and refreshments. Visitors gave voluntary donations which amounted to £320 in aid of the Foyle Search and Rescue charity.”

Stuart Smith concluded:”Finally, congratulations to all of the prize winners, and good luck to the HYB members who are destined for the national finals in Derbyshire in mid June.”

April 2015: Willowfarm venue for Holstein judging competition on 4th May

All roads will lead to Strabane on Monday 4th May for Holstein NI’s annual stock judging competition, generously sponsored by Ecosyl Products from Volac International Ltd.

This year’s event takes place at the Willofarm Herd, property of David and Gary Throne, 7 Willow Road, Bready, Strabane, County Tyrone, BT82 0DJ, from 11.00am.

The Willofarm prefix dates back to the early 1970s when the existing herd was graded-up. Foundation females were also purchased from several of the country’s leading herds including Smiddiehill, Barbican, Hyland and Ballybeeny. 

The herd currently comprises of 130 cows with an average yield of 11,266kgs at 3.76% butterfat and 3.12% protein. They are milked three times daily from December to the end of July, with David and Gary switching to twice-a-day milking for the remainder of the year.

The herd’s main cow families include Roxy from Hanoverhill, Kitty from Newroddige, Iris from Hyland, Royalty from Hayleys, Roza from Ijsselvliedt in Holland, and the highly acclaimed Ambrosia family.

Gary is a university graduate and has been farming full-time for several years. Cow numbers have increased in recent years, and strong emphasis is placed on breeding deep bodied functional cows with the ability to produce milk from forage.
The milking portion of the herd features daughters of proven AI bulls such as Allen, Talent, Shottle, Baxter, Titanic, Windbrook, Lauthority, Iota and Windhammer.

A few top cows are flushed annually, with David and Gary also keen to purchase embryos from high-ranking cow families around the world.

Sires featuring in the breeding programme include Iota, Numero Uno, Cash Money, Aikman, Sammy, and sexed semen from Flame.

To date the Willofarm prefix has produced numerous 100 tonne cows. The herd classification currently includes 9 EX, 53VG and 51GP, with 15 heifers still to be classified. Last year 13 heifers received VG 2yr status.

Cows are kept in one batch, and the high milk yields are achieved without the use of a diet feeder. Cows are grazed during the spring and summer months, with a combination of grass and maize silages forming the winter ration. Concentrates are fed in the parlour, with the cows also having access to out of parlour feeders. “This system works well, and allows us to sustain high yields of milk while managing the cows on an individual basis,” explained David.

Cows calve from mid September to the end of May, and all bull calves born before mid January are retained and reared on the farm.  Every year approximately 15 bulls are sold privately for breeding, with the remainder finished off the farm as bull beef.

David and Gary also sell surplus heifers, mainly privately to repeat customers, or at Holstein NI sales. They achieved 1,880gns for a potential 5th generation VG/EX heifer at the club’s March show and sale at Moira.

Holstein NI chairman Stuart Smith said:”I I would like to extend a warm welcome to all club members and Holstein breed enthusiasts, to come along and visit the Willofarm Herd, and put their stock judging skills to the test. The event is organised annually to select a team of Holstein Young Breeders’ Club members to represent Northern Ireland at Holstein UK’s National Competitions Day.

“Four classes of cattle will be put forward for the competition – senior heifers, senior cows, junior heifers and junior cows.

“We also have an open class, with an award for the best competitor on the day. It promises to be a great day out for all members of the family. Everyone is welcome!”

Master judge for the event is David Boyd from the noted Glaslough herd in County Monaghan.

For further information contact Holstein NI secretary John Martin on mobile 07711 041128.

•The farm is situated just off the main A5 between Strabane and Londonderry.

Cheque presentation

Avril Throne presents a cheque for £320 to Gareth Watson, Foyle Search and Rescue. The money was raised at Holstein NI's recent stockjudging event hosted by the Throne family from Strabane.

Judging 1

Ashley and Lindsay Fleming, Seaforde, were among the competitors at Holstein NI's annual stockjudging event, Strabane.

Judging 2

Roy Cromie, Donegal, marks his card at Holstein NI's annual judging day.

Judging 3

Master judge David Boyd from Glaslough, County Monaghan.

Judging 4

HYB co-ordinator Andrew Kennedy announces the results at Holstein NI's annual stockjudging competition, hosted by the Willofarm Herd, Strabane

Judging 5

Host farmer Gary Thorne, Willofarm Herd, Strabane, chats to Robbie Smith from the Prehen Herd, Londonderry.

Judging 6

Holstein Young Breeder John Hamilton from Bangor.

Judging 7

Young Holstein enthusiasts David Hamilton, Bangor, and Tom McKnight, Lisburn, were among the competitors at Holstein NI's judging day.

Judging 8

Robert and Samuel Hunter, Castlederg, test their stockjudging skills at the Willofarm Herd, Strabane.

Judging 9

Brian Weatherup, Carrickfergus, completes his judging card at Holstein NI's annual stockjudging event

Judging 10

HYB member Mark Henry deep in thought at Holstein NI's annual judging day.

Judging 11

Pictured at Holstein NI's annual stockjudging event are sponsor Noel McGrath, left, Ecosyl from Volac, sponsor; club chairman Stuart Smith, second right, and host farmers David and Gary Throne, Willofarm Herd, Strabane.

Judging 12

Hosts David and Gary Throne, Willofarm Herd, Strabane, are pictured at Holstein NI's stockjudging event with Stephen Holden, Holden Agriculture; and David Morgan, Crystalyx.

Judging 13

Pictured at Holstein NI's annual stockjudging event are Stephen Holden, Holden Agriculture; Robert and Samuel Hunter, Castlederg, Ashley Rankin, Bready; James Mulholland, De Laval; and host farmer Gary Throne

Judging 14

Host farmer David Throne chats to Gaston Wallace, Antrim, and master judge David Boyd, Glaslough, at Holstein NI's stockjudging event in Strabane.

Judging 15

Senior stockjudging competitors Stuart Smith, Londonderry, was placed second; while William Hunter, Castlederg, won third prize. Missing from the picture is the winner John Patterson, Crumlin

Judging 16

HYB co-ordinator Andrew Kennedy congratulates NI stockjudging team qualifiers, Andrew Patton and Lindsey Fleming (senior;l Mark Henry and David McAllsiter (intermediate); and Brian Weatherup and Tom McKnight (junior).

Judging 17

Linear team qualifiers Brian Weatherup and Tom McKnight (junior); David McAllister and Matthew McLean (intermediate); and William Bolton and Lindsey Fleming (senior), were congratulated by sponsor Noel McGrath, Ecosyl; Holstein NI chairman Stuart Smith; and HYB co-ordinator Andrew Kennedy.

 

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