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Balmoral Show robotic milking exhibition to pull in the crowds

By Rebecca Black

It's dairy farming, but not as we know it. A live show of robotic milking is set to be one of the new attractions at the Balmoral Show later this week, with organisers claiming it will be the biggest yet.

Last year, tens of thousands of people converged on Balmoral Park at the site of the former Maze Prison outside Lisburn, and this year the event has increased in size by an estimated 10%.

Among some of the new features are the Sustainable Village, showcasing new products and ideas for energy efficiency and recycling, the SPAR Arena, which will include circus workshops and falconry, and Northern Ireland's first display of live robotic milking.

This agricultural spectacle is expected to draw a curious crowd as electronic firm Lely and Draynes Farm teams up with the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) to bring 40 cows to the show, which line up of their own accord to be milked by a Lely Astronaut A4 robotic milking system.

There will also be the regular attractions such as the Jason Smyth Stunt Show, the NI Food Pavilion, garden village, the rare breeds, Young Farmers' tug of war and plenty of animals from horses to cattle, sheep, pigs, birds and rabbits.

RUAS chief executive Colin McDonald said they were encouraged by the increase in activity last year and are determined to build further.

"The 2015 show will be bigger again, with more livestock competition, more stands and displays and most importantly, more to see, do and enjoy," he said.

Meanwhile, the Orange Order has announced it will return to the show this year after a five-year absence.

Grand Master Edward Stevenson said the Order was delighted to be returning to Balmoral.

"Our presence will promote our long-standing community outreach programme, as well as our impending transformational interpretative centres in Belfast and Loughgall, which are due to open this summer," he said.

The Balmoral Show will run at Balmoral Park, Lisburn, from tomorrow to Friday, opening times 9.30am-8.30pm.

Admission charges range from £2 to £18, with early-bird rates available on the RUAS website. Children under five are free when accompanied by an adult.

How to get there

Visitors are encouraged to use public transport to get to the Balmoral Show. A courtesy shuttle service will run from Lisburn Train Station to Balmoral Park from 8.30am to 9pm daily.

Parking at the show grounds at Balmoral Park will cost £5 per day for cars, and £10 per day for coaches. It is advised to leave plenty of time to travel to the show.

The show runs from tomorrow to Friday, open from 9.30am daily.

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