Balmoral Show 2016: Lady from Springhill strikes gold yet again
Springhill Golden Lady, a five-year-old British Blue cow, won her third breed title in succession on the first day of this year's Balmoral Show.
Home-bred and owned by the Martin family from Newtownards, she immediately caught the eye of judges and public alike with her three-month-old calf at foot.
"We are truly delighted with today's result," confirmed a jubilant Sam Martin.
"There was a tremendous turnout of Blue cattle at this year's show. Yes, she is a former champion, but we were taking nothing for granted. Last year, Golden Lady won the breed championship with her embryo transfer daughter taking the reserve title.
"This year she was accompanied by her first naturally conceived calf, Springhill Leo. Both animals will now take their chances in next month's Highland Show.
"Thankfully, Leo was born with a minimum of fuss. A high proportion of pedigree Blue calves require a Caesarean section at birth."
The Springhill herd comprises 20 cows. It is a name linked to success, both here in Northern Ireland and in Britain.
"We also make 150 dairy cows," Sam added. "A Balmoral title is a tremendous accolade to receive. It both rubber-stamps the quality of the cattle in the herd and underpins the prices that can be achieved for stock coming under the auctioneer's hammer.
"We have invested heavily in the herd over recent years, striving at all times to introduce the best bloodlines that are available internationally."
The Co Down breeder confirmed that demand for quality British Blue livestock remained very high. "We sell to both commercial dairy and suckler farmers in Northern Ireland," he said.
"But the real demand lies across the water. In a normal year, approximately three-quarters of our stock would be sold to breeders in GB."
Sam said that British Blue cattle were renowned for their beefing qualities and their tremendous temperament.
"Calves are very easily reared and have a real will to live," he explained.
"They also have an inherently high value, with the result that British Blue bulls can be used to great effect within dairy herds as a way of improving margins.
"As we know from first-hand experience at home, the milk sector is under tremendous pressure at the present time.
"Producing quality beef from the dairy herd is one way of reversing this trend."