The camaraderie within our livestock farming industry is truly infectious. A perfect example of this arose on Saturday past at Ballymena Show. At the end of a long day’s judging the Cattle Supreme Championship came down to a head-to-head between an elite Holstein cow, owned and bred by Iain McLean from Bushmills in Co. Antrim and a cross bred commercial heifer, owned by beef farmer Robert Miller, who hails from Moneymore, Co. Derry.
As it turned out the judge – Alastair Houston, from Dumfriesshire – gave the nod to the 14-month-old heifer. Everyone gathered to view the spectacle cheered the victor while, inside the ring, the first person to offer his congratulations was Iain McLean. Personally, I have no idea as to the background on the beef heifer. But having read the show catalogue I do know that McLean’s second calver has a pedigree that is pretty unique within the world of Holstein breeding. In fact, I learned afterwards that the cow in question has been widely sought after by a number of AI companies for inclusion in their respective contract mating programmes.
Ballymena Show is one of those events where they do include a supreme championship cattle class. And every now and then a surprise result comes to the fore. As far as I am aware last Saturday was the first occasion when a commercial animal led the parade of champions at Ballymena. And it may never happen again. Hats off to Robert Miller: his success was far from a fluke. His heifer had to come through quite a number of classes throughout the day, before even getting to the Supreme Championship decider. But the most striking dimension to last Saturday’s events at Ballymena was the fact that all of the top pedigree breeders in attendance were delighted that the Moneymore team had carried the field. It’s an awful pity that other sections of society at large could not learn from such a magnanimous gesture.