‘On cloud 9’: Surprise at Balmoral as Shorthorn clinches dairy interbreed

Tongues were wagging in the dairy lines about the surprise winner of this year’s Balmoral Show dairy interbreed championship.

It’s the first time the competition has been won by a Dairy Shorthorn. For her breeder, Monaghan dairy farmer James Lambe, it was also his first time at the show.

The champion cow, Ballytrain Bloom 30, is a homebred fourth-calver sired by Brieryside Golden Sand. On the day, she was fitted by Brendan Greenan and showed by Georgine Kerr.

In her last lactation, she produced 9,300kg and she is projected to top 10,000kg mark on her fourth lactation. Her latest figures show her butterfat sits at 3.89% and protein at 3.57%.

She was classified Excellent 91 during her third lactation.

Lambe runs a spring and autumn calving herd on his family farm in Castleblayney. He focuses on breeding a hardy cow with good legs and feet and high fertility.

His wife Joanne and sons Shane (21), Padraig (12) and Thomas (10) and daughter, Amie (17) help him with the 100-cow Dairy Shorthorn herd.

He had been running the farm with his father; but officially took over the helm of the business in 2002.

“We calve most of them in the spring but, if she is still milking well, we will keep her and let her calve that bit later,” he said.

We keep milking through the winter mainly because of cash flow. It’s not as profitable but then the bills keep coming all year round – there are a lot of businesses which fall apart because of cashflow.

“I’m on cloud nine. I’m delighted to see her win this. It’s been a great show – it’s actually my first time here – but I will have to come back again next year now. I decided to come because I knew she was a quality cow – she deserved it.”

Reserve interbreed champion, Quintrell Kyros Indigo, is owned by the Fleming family from Downpatrick, Co. Down.

The year of the Shorthorn?

Reserve Shorthorn champion was Winter Fair Shorthorn junior champion Kilsally Jill 17 – owned by the Booth brothers from Stewartstown, Co. Tyrone.

The third-calver has a strong track record, managing breed champion at the Winter Fair, and reserve in December 2016 as well as at Balmoral in 2016.

Ruth and Stephen Booth

The family got into the breed by buying animals from a few dispersal herds in England – eight to 10 at a time – and building from there. Today, the family has 210 cows; three-quarters of which are Dairy Shorthorn.

Stephen Booth said the Dairy Shorthorns had better butterfat and protein with better feet and fertility compared to the other breeds his family had worked with.

Jill sits at nearly 5% butterfat and almost 4% protein, managing 10,000L on her third lactation.