There was a festive joy for the farmers as the 35th Royal Ulster Winter Fair, in association with Danske Bank, was held at the Eikon Center, Balmoral Park last Thursday, making a welcome return since 2019 due to restrictions from Covid l ‘last year.
While the title of Supreme Crossbreed Champion was won by Clandeboy Tequilla Cookie, exhibited by Clandeboye Estate, Bangor, local exhibitors were honored.
Stewart and Nyree Baxter have won multiple awards in the Ayrshire classes, placing first and second in the Cow in Milk class, as well as the Exhibitor Bred award and the Best Udder in Class award. The partnership also took third place in the Milk Heifer class.
In Holstein classes, Matthew Breen, Tempo, took his young heifer to the event and, in a large entry class, came home with an eighth place finish. The dam of this calf won a Junior Champion rosette in 2019.
Seamus Gunn of Derrylin continued to support the event by winning class prizes in the Milking Heifer and Milking Cow with Two Calvings class.
However, Seamus’ high-yielding cow, Ernevale Destry Triuna, won the class for milking cow or calf, having produced a minimum of 50,000 kg in her lifetime. He also won the Exhibitor Breed and Best Udder in Class awards.
Seamus also won the Reserve Award for Best Dairy Stall.
The popular Winter Fair in the run up to Christmas brought farmers, dairy enthusiasts and industry specialists a chance to network and do business.
It also provided a timely opportunity for farmers, their families and exhibitors to meet before the holiday season.
Danske Bank was once again the sole sponsor of the event, as it has been for the past 35 years.
Speaking on the ongoing partnership, Rodney Brown, Head of Agribusiness at Danske, said: “It was fantastic to be back at the Winter Fair in 2021, after a year away due to the restrictions. from 2020.
“There was a wonderful atmosphere throughout, and while the future of the industry looks exciting with many opportunities, the many challenges seem to have been forgotten that day as visitors enjoyed the excellent dairy cattle show, took the opportunity to visit the superb variety of shopping stalls and enjoyed the social aspect in the beautiful surroundings of the Eikon Center and Logan Hall.
Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots visited the show, welcoming the return of the event and added: “Our agri-food sector is crucial both for the farming community and for everyone in Northern Ireland.
“In 2021, the total gross output of our agricultural sector was £ 2.23bn with dairy being the main contributor with a production value of £ 667m – 30% – [producing] 2.4 billion liters of milk.
“Dairy farmers have had to face extremely difficult years with fluctuating milk prices and rising production costs.
“While it is encouraging to see farm milk prices rise, we must continue to work with the industry to support their businesses and develop greater confidence in a sustainable future for this generation and future generations.
“I hope to publish a consultation soon on our future agricultural policy proposals for Northern Ireland to help us develop better future support measures for the agricultural sector. ”
There was a lot of interest among the many trade stalls as farmers looked forward to 2022. The agricultural machinery sector was well represented, along with other agricultural services.
With a focus on grass, David Linton, NI regional manager for Barenbrug, said sales of grass seed in the past season increased by 30% as farmers took advantage of good weather conditions to renew their lawns.
The AFBI booth showcased some of the plants used in multi-species mixtures.
Agronomist David Patterson explained how they undertook trials with multispecies lawns to see how they performed under conditions in Northern Ireland.