Clandeboye Estate to host Jersey cattle open day

An 18th century estate with an award-winning dairy herd is set to welcome Jersey enthusiasts from throughout the UK later this month.

The Northern Ireland Jersey Breeders’ Day will take place on Wednesday, February 27 from 11:00am to 3:00pm.

Clandeboye’s herd manager and breed society director Mark Logan said: “The event coincides with a Jersey Society board meeting, and we are looking forward to welcoming visitors. It has been more than 10 years since we last hosted a Jersey Society event.

“I would like to take this opportunity to extend a warm invitation to all Jersey breeders and those with an interest in the breed. The itinerary includes a line-up of industry representatives, and promises to be an interesting and informative day.”

Topics such as breeding and feeding Jersey cattle will be outlined by keynote speakers Ashley Fleming, Cogent, and Dr. Keith Agnew from sponsor United Feeds.

Gary Watson from Dairy Herd Management will focus on reducing antibiotic usage in dairy herds; while Lizzie Bonsall from Holstein UK will discuss how Approved Registered Cattle provides traceability of pedigree animals using an integral DNA tissue bank.

The 2,000ac Clandeboye Estate, which is owned by the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, is home to a pedigree dairy herd comprising of 70 Holstein and 30 Jersey cows. The estate also owns a small herd of 10 rare-breed Irish Moiled suckler cows.

The Clandeboye Jersey prefix was founded in the year 2000, with aim of breeding high type, high production cows with longevity.

Its most prominent families are the Marble/Mabel line which hails from the gold star brood cow Early Renaissance Marbel VG86, imported from Canada; and the Evitas descended from Raughton Lester Evita EX91-2 purchased in England.

Mark Logan said: “The initial plan was to keep five Jersey cows, but this quickly doubled to 10, and has continued to expand, with the current 30-cow herd averaging 6,570kgs at 5.36% butterfat and 4.03% protein in 305 days. The herd comprises of 13 Excellent, 10 VG [Very Good] and four GP [Good Plus] cows. “

Clandeboye has won numerous Ulster Jersey Cattle Club accolades over the years, and has enjoyed much success in the show ring.

The herd is strip grazed in paddocks during the summer months, with buffer feeding during milking times. Both dairy breeds are managed together at grass, and are housed separately in cubicles during the winter months.

Home-grown maize silage makes up 50% of the TMR ration, with the remainder coming from equal quantities of grass silage and wholecrop wheat. A purchased blend completes the mix.

The TMR ration is formulated to provide maintenance plus 32L for the Holstein herd, and 25L of the Jersey herd. Concentrates are feed in the parlour accordingly to individual requirements.

Visitors to the NI Jersey Breeders’ Day will also have an opportunity to learn more about the County Down estate’s diversification projects – the premium brand Clandeboye artisan yoghurt, and a 250Kw anaerobic digester.

Diversification with yoghurt and electric

“In 2007 we started looking at ways to add value to the milk produced on the farm,” explained Mark. “The Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt brand was launched in 2008.

“We started out with a natural Greek-style product using 300L of milk every week, and today, we are processing more than 8,000L weekly to meet the demand for the 15-strong product range.”

Clandeboye Yoghurt is available in all major supermarkets, as well as small local outlets across Northern Ireland, and a farm shop on the estate.

“Clandeboye has recently launched its greek and vanilla range in southern Ireland, and supplies its Greek-style yoghurt to the Costa Coffee chain throughout Ireland.

Yoghurt production is based in an industrial unit located five miles from the farm. The company employs five full-time staff, and is currently planning to relocate to a purpose-built factory which will facilitate its ongoing expansion.

The 250kW anaerobic digester was installed over two years. It is fed on a mixture of grass, maize and wholecrop wheat silages to produce methane which is converted into electricity.

Mark added: ”We are currently providing electricity for the many properties on the estate, with surplus sold to the national grid.

“The system also produces an abundant supply of hot water which is delivered via a district heating system to heat the properties on the estate.

The water travels up to 1km between the digester and the mansion house and courtyard, and has allowed the estate to become almost energy self-sufficient.”

Admission to the NI Jersey Breeders’ Day is free. However, to facilitate catering arrangements for lunch please register in advance by contacting Emma at the Jersey Cattle Society, on: [email protected]; or alternatively, email Mark Logan on: [email protected].