This year’s Royal Ulster Winter Fair Supreme Champion was already a star when she won the show’s coveted top prize on Thursday (December 12).
Affectionately dubbed ‘Meg’ for short, Lisnalty Megasire Rituel may have won the top prize at the fair but she had already won the Irish public’s hearts back in April when she made her TV debut.
“Meg delivered naturally on live television on [RTÉ’s] Big Week on the Farm and she delivered Lisnalty Big Week on the Farm Baby Boy – a lovely big, bouncing baby boy,” Eileen Hannan from Lisnalty Holsteins said.
“With the cows it’s nice to have the fun element to it too. We are a family and the kids are very much involved in what we do on the farm. It’s all about the team for us.”
Large crowds filled the Eikon Exhibition Centre for Northern Ireland’s premier annual dairy event as cattle competed in the ring for the championship titles.
Born in March 2016, and bred by Paul Hannan from Crecora, Limerick, the exhibitor-bred second-calver was sired by Butz-Hill Megasire ET and out of Copsewood Fev Rituel ET.
Meg’s showing track record includes National Dairy Show Champion six weeks ago, Intermediate Champion Millstreet in 2018 and Intermediate Heifer in Milk at last year’s Winter Fair.
“I won quite a lot [in the show ring] when I was younger but I gave it up when I got married and had children and gave it all up second-calver but now we’re back into it because of the children – they’re just so mad for it,” Paul Hannan told AgriLand.
Hannan explained the herd has been yielding 12,000L/cow/year for the last 13 years. Meg also boasts her own impressive figures – 11,600L in her first lactation at 4.27% butterfat and 3.35% protein.
For her second lactation, she is forecast to hit 13,700L, currently producing an impressive 55L a day.
But even at the very pinnacle of dairy breeding, you can’t always be at the top of the class.
“We brought up two – but the other came last in her class,” Paul laughed.
“We really brought the second one up to keep her company – they were in the same house together were in the trailer together. It took the two of them to be here to achieve this.”
Aussie judge Robert Anderson’s Reserve Champion might be much smaller in stature but is no less impressive.
Clandeboye Tequila Cookie, owned by Clandeboye Estate in Co. Down, had already notched up Champion Jersey and Interbreed Honourable Mention at the Winter Fair two years ago.
The homebred fourth-calver missed the show last year because the herd was closed. But she made up for it this year, winning her class (Jersey Senior Cow in Milk), Best Udder in Class, the breed championship and Overall Reserve Champion.
Daughter Clandeboye Miles Cookie also made an appearance, managing a respectable third in her class, Junior Cow in Milk.
Explaining Cookie’s success, breeder Mark Logan said: “She’s a Tequila from a Sultan and her mother was a really good cow and she’s a special one – she’s the best Jersey I’ve ever had.”
Tubbertoby Holsteins returned home to Drogheda with the Honourable Mention for Tubbertoby Armsni Fleur.
Rodney Brown, head of agri-business at Danske Bank, the event’s sole sponsor, said: “2019 has been another successful year for the Winter Fair.
There was a fantastic atmosphere throughout the day and whilst there is an underlying air of political and economic uncertainty, it seemed to have been left at the door as visitors enjoyed the excellent show of dairy cattle and took the opportunity to visit the superb variety of trade stands.
Alan Crowe, RUAS chief executive, added: “There was a great atmosphere throughout the day and the ever-growing crowd enjoyed the fierce competition of top-quality livestock, as well as the array of quality trade, stands on show.
“It was a wonderful day and we look forward to returning in 2020 to do it all again.”