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Balmoral Show 2015: All the fun of the farm, and much more

Balmoral Show, which starts tomorrow, is bigger than ever before. Helen Carson meets some of the many exhibitors

Published 12/05/2015

People watch the show jumping with an old watch tower from the Maze Prison in the background.
People watch the show jumping with an old watch tower from the Maze Prison in the background.
Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Blackface Perty sheep being judged.
A woman prepares her cattle before showing in the ring.
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Beef farmer and Ulster Rugby star Rory Best signs autographs in The Redmills stand.
Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn.
Rys Balckwell(5) with his twin brother Ryan from Ballyclare with Meanie Man.
Second day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park.
Jayne Price judging.
Pictured are Brian and Ryan Rainey from Limavady
Northern Ireland 15th May Second day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park.
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Eimear Conway(2) with her big sister Maria(4) from Maghera with an Old Masey Ferguson tractor.
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers.
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Grace Reid(3) from Ballynahinch with her Burrenvale Charolais cattle.
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Blackface Perty Type sheep being judged.
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Alex Calhoun(10) with his Jacob Sheep of the Kingarrow flock Omagh
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers.
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Kelly O'Kane from Carnlough with her Blue Leicester Ewe.
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Balmoral Show Open Wool Handling Championships.
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Grace Reid(3) from Ballynahinch with her Burrenvale Charolais cattle.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage meeting Karen McKee and baby Lila (8 months) from Scarva along with with UKIP NI Henry Reilly at the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers.
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. People queue to get into the show.
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Alex Calhoun(10) with his Jacob Sheep of the Kingarrow flock Omagh
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Balmoral Show Open Wool Handling Championships.
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Blackface Perty Type sheep being judged.
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Kelly O'Kane from Carnlough with her Blue Leicester Ewe.
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Alex Calhoun(10) with his Jacob Sheep of the Kingarrow flock Omagh
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Scott Ewing(5&left) with his cousin Emma Cromie(6) and twin brother James(5) with their freshly planted tomato plant.
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Finn Campbell(10) with his sister Thalia(7) from Seafrode.
Northern Ireland- 15th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Ulster Bank Balmoral Show second day at the Maze site outside Lisburn. The annual agricultural show attracts local retailers as was as farmers showing raw breeds, horse jumping and big retailers. Eimear Conway(2) with her big sister Maria(4) from Maghera with an Old Masey Ferguson tractor.
15th May 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has visited the exhibition stand of Dungannon-headquartered company, Dunbia during a tour of the 2014 Balmoral Show. Dundia, a leading supplier of beef, lamb and pork products, recently announced a skills development programme which involves establishing a Butchery Academy as well as leadership and management training. Discussing how support from Invest Northern Ireland is helping Dunbia up-skill its 1,000 strong workforce across Dungannon, are Arlene Foster, Jack and Jim Dobbin.
NO FEE Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th May Second day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured are Mr Patrick Murdock on Kate McCann in the private driving section. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
NO FEE Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th May Second day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured are Chloe Irwin,Nichola Waters,Katie McNeill and Shannon Killen from Dungannon Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
NO FEE Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th May Second day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Rydale Clothing International Spectacular . LLaura Robinson GBR riding Jonte Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
NO FEE Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th May Second day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured are St Patricks college in Banbridge Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
NO FEE Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th May Second day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Rydale Clothing International Spectacular . Cpt Brian Curran Cournane IRL riding Starboard Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
NO FEE Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th May Second day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Young Event Horse Jumping Sponsored by Stonebridge Premium feeds. Rachel Thompson on Mr Guy Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
NO FEE Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 15th May Second day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Rydale Clothing International Spectacular . Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage (centre) with Henry Reilly (left) and Cecil Beatty from Dungannon exhibiting his Pedigree Herefords at the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured with the Ulster Bank Henri Hippo are St Mary School in Newtownbutler .
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 14th May 2014 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Debbie Berrie (left) from Dundee and Kim Perry from Strabane enjoying the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured is Paul OConnell from Derry
First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured with the Ulster Bank Henri Hippo are Liam and Dillon Conlon from Markethill.
First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured with the Ulster Bank Henri Hippo are the Wilson and George family from Portadown .
First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured with the Ulster Bank Henri Hippo are Lilly Callaghan from Coleraine .
Pacemaker Press 14/5/2014 Horses at the opening day of the Balmoral Show at the old Maze prison side near Lisburn with Tens of thousands of people due to attend the agricultural and food show over the next three days. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 14/5/2014 Crowds at the opening day of the Balmoral Show at the old Maze prison side near Lisburn with Tens of thousands of people due to attend the agricultural and food show over the next three days. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 14/5/2014 Horses at the opening day of the Balmoral Show at the old Maze prison side near Lisburn with Tens of thousands of people due to attend the agricultural and food show over the next three days. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 14/5/2014 Horses at the opening day of the Balmoral Show at the old Maze prison side near Lisburn with Tens of thousands of people due to attend the agricultural and food show over the next three days. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 14/5/2014 Sheep Shearing at the opening day of the Balmoral Show at the old Maze prison side near Lisburn with Tens of thousands of people due to attend the agricultural and food show over the next three days. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 14/5/2014 Sheep Shearing at the opening day of the Balmoral Show at the old Maze prison side near Lisburn with Tens of thousands of people due to attend the agricultural and food show over the next three days. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 14/5/2014 Annabel Manson aged 3 from Ballymena at the opening day of the Balmoral Show at the old Maze prison side near Lisburn with Tens of thousands of people due to attend the agricultural and food show over the next three days. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 14/5/2014 Horses at the opening day of the Balmoral Show at the old Maze prison side near Lisburn with Tens of thousands of people due to attend the agricultural and food show over the next three days. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Molly Robinson from Ballygowan a Results Steward at the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Rchel McAlister from Randalstown exhibiting Limousin cattle at the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured with the Ulster Bank Henri Hippo are Nikki and Kim Milligan from Fermanagh .
First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured with the Ulster Bank Henri Hippo are Shannon Connor,Kate Lyness,Loren Strain and Avine Walsh from Newcastle
Members of the Bolddog Lings motorcycle display team pictured at the Balmoral show. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Pacemaker Press 14/5/2014 UKIP Leader Nigel Farage at the opening day of the Balmoral Show at the old Maze prison side near Lisburn with Tens of thousands of people due to attend the agricultural and food show over the next three days. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Charles Mark from Limavady Horse Ring Steward at the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
James (9) and Oliver (6) Shaw from Saintfield looking a t Varta Tractors at the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Caroline Nethery (left) and Leeann Sheerin From Omagh enjoying the colour of the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured are Michael,Eoin and Dillon McNamee from Crossmaglen. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Madison Clarke , aged 3, from Dungannon in the Loading Shovel of a 19 Tonne CAT 966K at the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured are Edward Little on Galway bay Hammer. Pic Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye
First Minister Peter Robinson pictured with Lisburn Councillor Alan Ewart and Julian Stevenson from Sports Dock at the Balmoral Show. Pic William Cherry/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 14th May 2014 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Ulster Bank Competition winners Alice and Louise Boden with Ulster Banks's Conor McNeill (Agri-Business Devlopment Manager) Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
HRH The Princess Royal today attended the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society venue at Balmoral Park, Maze, Lisburn. This is the second year the show has been held at the prestigious Balmoral Park which showcases a true centre of rural excellence for Northern Ireland. Photo by Simon Graham/Harrisons
HRH The Princess Royal today attended the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society venue at Balmoral Park, Maze, Lisburn. This is the second year the show has been held at the prestigious Balmoral Park which showcases a true centre of rural excellence for Northern Ireland. Photo by Simon Graham/Harrisons
HRH The Princess Royal today attended the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society venue at Balmoral Park, Maze, Lisburn. This is the second year the show has been held at the prestigious Balmoral Park which showcases a true centre of rural excellence for Northern Ireland. Photo by Simon Graham/Harrisons
HRH The Princess Royal today attended the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society venue at Balmoral Park, Maze, Lisburn. This is the second year the show has been held at the prestigious Balmoral Park which showcases a true centre of rural excellence for Northern Ireland. Photo by Simon Graham/Harrisons
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 14th May 2014 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/PresseyE Alpacas at the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 14th May 2014 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye John McKerow from Scotland judging the Texel sheep at the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 14th May 2014 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Joy Johnston from Maghaberry with her display of Plastic Flowers at the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 14th May 2014 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye (L-R) John Bamber (RUAS Vice Patron), Colin McDonald Chief Executive) and William Robson (Deputy President RUAS) at the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Pictured are Mr Maurice Wafer winner of the Colt foal class. First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pic Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye
First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pic Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye Pictured is Cyril Crommie from Ballynahinch showing his Zwartbles sheep.
Pictured are Mr Maurice Wafer winner of the Colt foal class. First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pic Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye
First day of the Balmoral Show: The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, visited the marquee of Balmoral Show principal sponsor, Ulster Bank. The Princess Royal is pictured with Ellvena Graham, Ulster Banks Head of Northern Ireland, and Ian Jordan, Director, Corporate Banking Division.
First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured is John McKerrow judging the aged tram Texels Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured are Freddie Davidson with his Aberdeen Angus. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Early queues on the First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured is Bailey OCoonor from Seaforde Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured is Paul OConnell from Derry Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Princess Royal is welcomed to Balmoral Park by RUAS Chief Executive Colin McDonald during the first day of the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
First day of the Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank at Balmoral Park. Pictured are Mr Maurice Wafer winner of the Colt foal class. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Caroline Nethery (left) and Leeann Sheerin From Omagh enjoying the colour of the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Young Farmers expert grade competing in the Sheep Shearing competition at the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 14th May 2014 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Princess Royal talking to Sheep Farmer Robbie Mulligan from Banbridge during a visit to the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 14th May 2014 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Princess Royal is welcolmed to Balmoral Park by RUAS Chief Executive Colin McDonald during the first day of the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 14th May 2014 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Young Farmers expert grade competiting in the Sheep Shearing competition at the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 14th May 2014 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye First Minister Peter Robinson sharing a joke while waiting for the Princess Royal at the Balmoral Show at the Maze/Longkesh Picture by Brian Little/Presseye

The 147th Balmoral Show will begin tomorrow when the country invades Belfast to showcase everything from the latest in 21st farming technology to coiffed pedigree cattle. There will also be lots of entertainment and fun with equestrian events, world class arena stunts and the very best home-grown food.

The three-day annual event, which runs at Balmoral Park until Friday, will feature a live demonstration of a robotic milking machine.

>>Click here for full Balmoral Show results<<

Other attractions will include world-class arena stunts, food and craft villages and a funfair which will run alongside more traditional rural exhibitions such as sheep-shearing competitions, parades of prize-winning animals and displays of vintage machinery.

With music from Downtown's show stage, there will be plenty for everyone at Northern Ireland's number one agricultural event.

We speak to three exhibitors taking part in this year's Balmoral Show to find out what they're bringing to the event.

‘We fudged the issue and turned it into our family business’

Sisters Dorothy Bittles, Catherine Johnston and Jennifer Lowry have turned a family obssession with sweet treats and a hand-me-down recipe into an artisan business, Blackthorn Foods, which sells its award-winning hand-made fudge brand, Melting Pot, to an export market, including the United Arab Emirates. Dorothy says:

My dad Patrick Lee started making fudge when he retired from his job as a quantity surveyor. Our family has always suffered from a terrible affliction - a sweet tooth, and he decided to start making fudge for us girls when he stopped working. The recipe has been in our family for generations.

Dad also supplied some of the handmade fudge to the local Post Office and a few other shops. Ten years ago my sisters and I were looking for a business and realised that dad had a small, loyal fan base for the handmade fudge, so we took a pitch at St George's Market in Belfast where we experimented with different flavours to see if people liked it.

The business grew steadily from there and now we mostly distribute the product through large UK wholesalers and further afield with export markets in the United Arab Emirates, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands.

We do different flavours such as cranberry and white chocolate, Irish cream liqueur, honeycomb and dark chocolate and Christmas pudding, but the most popular variety is the traditional butter fudge like my dad used to make, with salted caramel offering a modern twist on this.

We started making the fudge in my sister's bungalow then moved to premises in Ballyhackamore which we outgrew and sold three years ago. Now, we have a factory just off the Newtownards Road in east Belfast and a staff of nine people, including my sisters and me who are all acting partners of the business.

The fudge is hand-made in open pots which is a traditional technique, then we produce small batches of the product which is hand-beaten and hand-cut. Up until a year ago, the fudge was hand-wrapped but our overseas markets grew so much that process had to become fully automated. We only use the finest ingredients with no artificial additives, preservatives or trans fats and all our fudge is gluten-free - it is a truly artisan product.

Customers say they like our fudge because it is so soft and creamy, not grainy like some other varieties.

This is our first time at the Balmoral Show as we were invited by Ulster Bank - we had thought about it before. It's a fantastic opportunity to showcase the fudge, meet local people and let them taste it and find out where to buy it."

  • Melting Pot fudge is for sale at speciality food shops and online, visit http://www.blackthornfoods.co.uk/

‘How the robots help get the milking done’

Tomas Cooney works for Lely, the company behind a revolutionary robotic milking machine, which will make its debut at the Balmoral Show. He says:

We have set up a mini-diary at the Balmoral Show as it is a great opportunity to show the local farming community how the system works - it's the first live demonstration we have done at a show in Northern Ireland, and this can be seen every day of the three-day event.

We will have 40 cows from Draynes Farm in Lisburn at the show every day and will demonstrate in a live environment how the system works. Using the robotic milking machine actually offers a more natural routine for cows, as the animal can come and go when they need milking, rather than being herded in at a set time - as a result milk production goes up by 13%.

The system enables cows to be milked 24/7, therefore freeing the farmer from spending up to three hours, twice a day milking cattle. Farmers who invest in the system will also be supported by us with help on the design of an existing or new building to house the new technology as well as 24/7 back up from Lely Centre Eglish, Co Tyrone, which handles all local start-ups.

The demonstration with cattle has been in the planning stage for the last eight months and the Lely team has been busy over the past few weeks getting the site set up.

With quotas gone and farmers now having more opportunities to expand, efficiencies in working practices and farm management become even more critical.

Lely first introduced its robotic milking machine in 1992 and now has more than 21,000 working worldwide milking more than 1.2 million cows daily."

The breeder with Blond ambition

Willie McElroy (31) is a cattle farmer from Dromara who specialises in the pedigree breed British blonds. He says: 

I inherited our 40-acre family farm from my grandad, and it is run by myself and my parents, Ian and Ruth McElroy.

We have been exhibiting British Blond cattle for almost 20 years, having bought our first animal in 1996.

This breed is appealing for many reasons including easy calving and their temperament.

They are light boned so they produce more meat which is very lean - and this converts well in commercial terms as there is a big demand for healthier, leaner cuts of meat among consumers.

We will be exhibiting the cattle at this year's Balmoral Show and presentation is everything to us.

It is important to present the right image to promote the breed and raise its profile which in turn creates a greater demand for it - this is particularly important for us as breeders and indeed other breeders."

What to do and see

Jason Smyth Adrenaline Tour

Adrenaline junkies will be captivated by the main arena attraction as Jason Smyth Stunt Show performs daredevil moves throughout the three days

Sheep Shearing

Come and see the various competitions each day in the Shearing Pavilion. It is fast, exciting, competitive and a great spectator sport. It is said that to become a top shearer, you need the eyes and skill of a marksman, the stamina of a marathon runner and the ability to out-sprint the rivals. Good clean shearing without damage to sheep or wool remains the overriding priority. Fitness and the ability to concentrate and perform under pressure will be uppermost in the teams' minds as they battle it out

Spar Arena

The new Spar Arena is a dedicated area for fun family entertainment. The packed timetable will ensure bustling crowds as visitors are educated and entertained with a variety of acts including everything from circus workshops to falconry

Livestock

There is a wide variety of the best livestock on show each day. You will see beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits, poultry, horses, ponies, ducks and pigeons all hoping to get a big red 1st place rosette

Garden Village

The Garden Village will feature a show garden, trade stands and demonstration clinic with daily demos on lots of useful topics

Activity Zone

Beyond the Garden Village you will find the Activity Zone. There will be lots to keep kids entertained such as the climbing wall, ferris wheel and Hunter West shooting range

Pony Club Games

Held on the Thursday evening in the main arena, the Pony Club games are a firm favourite with our visitors. It's extremely fast with a flurry of hooves and feet as the riders make their way around a series of obstacles as fast and accurately as possible. The teams are acompeting for the coveted Wilkinson Sword trophy

Stilt Walking Samba Band

This eight-person stilt-walking samba band performs on stilts while playing a variety of samba instruments, incorporating all the sounds of South America. They will be performing around the showgrounds on Wednesday and Friday

Three action-packed days

RUAS Balmoral Show at Balmoral Park from tomorrow until Friday

Competitive events include equestrian demonstrations while exhibitors will treat visitors to the best beef and dairy cattle parades, as well as best of breed sheep, horse and pony, pigs, goats, poultry and rabbits

Contests for Beef & Dairy/Sheep/Pig and Clydesdale Young Handlers

Opening times: Wednesday, May 13, 9.30am-8.30pm

Thursday, May 14 May, 9.30am-8.30pm

Friday, May 15, 9.30am-8pm.

Admission: Adult, £18, senior (Over 65), £14, youth (12-18), £12, child (five-11), £3, under five years free with adult

Belfast Telegraph

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