Friday crowds enjoy the Balmoral show, where beef and dairy take center stage


The beef and milk championship classes took center stage on Day 3 of this year’s Balmoral Show with a number of new herd names and faces.

Dexter beef is a fast growing dish in restaurants across the UK, with ranchers from Northern Ireland at the forefront of the meat supply.

Although the cattle can be small in size, it is really efficient when it comes to getting premium prices in the market.

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Large numbers of spectators attended the fourth day of the Balmoral Show outside Lisburn, County Down. The show is Northern Ireland’s largest agricultural show and will take place later this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic after being canceled in 2020. Photo by Jonathan Porter / PressEye

Pat McAreavey operates a farm on the outskirts of Upper Ballinderry in County Antrim.

He has 11 fully registered cows in his fast growing herd. Yesterday at Balmoral he won the Dexter Breed Championship.

“I farm part-time,” he says. “My wife decided to buy two breeding females from me: we ended up buying four. Dexter cattle are very easy to work. Due to their size, they can be kept on the grass for most of the year. They also transform grazed grass into beef very efficiently.

The average carcass weight of a Dexter carcass is around 170 kilograms: that’s about half the size a more traditional beef animal would kill.

Large numbers of spectators attended the fourth day of the Balmoral Show outside Lisburn, County Down. The show is Northern Ireland’s largest agricultural show and will take place later this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic after being canceled in 2020. Photo by Jonathan Porter / PressEye

Linden Foods currently operates a registered Dexter beef program with the meat available at M&S ​​stores across the UK. Farmers providing the program receive £ 4.85 per pound of dead weight.

This represents a premium of almost £ 1 per kilogram over the price offered for commercial cattle.

Meanwhile, in the dairy arenas, a new name was emerging: Annaghmore Holsteins. Established just four years ago by the father-son team, Clive and Joel Richardson, the Co Armagh herd has captured the attention of dairy enthusiasts across Ireland and the UK.

Yesterday at Balmoral they won the Holstein Junior Championship with a really eye-catching first calving heifer: Annaghmore Fitz Alec.

From the elite bull Toc Farm Fitz, the young cow calved three months ago.

“She is currently giving 43L per day,” commented Annaghmore Farm Manager Josh Ebron. “She is raised at home, calved easily for the first time, and we believe can look forward to a great breeding future.”

Annaghmore Holsteins is a prime example of what can be achieved by combining an investment in the right bloodlines with the implementation of the highest possible management standards.

The excellent prices paid recently for Annaghmore breeding females reflect the strong demand that now exists for elite genetics which is at the heart of an ongoing herd development program.

Josh Ebron again: “The herd has a total of 85 cows, 68 of which are currently milked. There are two robots on the farm, which will allow us to accumulate numbers in the coming period.

Significantly, the herd reinforces its status as a single pedigree with an enormous ability to put large volumes of high quality milk into the bulk tank.

The current running average for cows is 10,867 L at 4.23% fat and 3.48% protein.

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