Armagh Show: Milk crisis sours day of success for cow breeder
The big winners at the Armagh Show have said the deepening crisis facing Northern Ireland’s dairy industry has left milk producers facing an uncertain future.
The Booth family, from Stewartstown in Co Tyrone, had a tremendous day in the show ring, but the falling milk price - and the implications this is having for their business - somewhat spoiled the occasion.
“Most dairy farming operations in Northern Ireland are incurring heavy losses at the present time,” said Jason Booth.
“Milk prices have been falling for the past number of months. And it looks like this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. I know that we now operate in an international market, but something will have to be done to support the local milk sector.
“Brussels has done nothing to alleviate the problems facing dairy farmers in this part of the world. Europe’s agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan keeps telling us there is no crisis. But these comments could not be any further from the truth. Milk producers here need help now.”
Meanwhile in the show ring, the Booths carried the day, winning the dairy inter-breed championship with their excellent cow Clandeboye Shottle Willow.
Bred at Clandeboye Estate in Co Down, this was her second Armagh inter-breed title in succession.
She calved for the fourth time earlier this year and will reappear next at the finals of McLarnon’s Dairy Cow Championship, scheduled for Antrim Show next month.
The inter-breed beef championship at Armagh was won by George McCall, from Markethill, with his 10-year-old Salers cow Babette.
“I imported her from France as a calf,” he said. “She has won a number of show championships over the years. But this is her first inter-breed title.”
Mr McCall runs a herd of 30 pure bred Salers cows. He was attracted to the breed because of the animals’ quiet nature, calving ease and their ability to thrive on rougher land, which would not be suited to other imported cattle breeds.
Babette gave birth to a heifer calf four weeks ago, sired by the French bull Valiant.
One of the most popular attractions at this year’s Armagh Show was the tremendous turnout of native breed pigs. The overall championship was won by Ernest Gregg from Ahoghill in Co Antrim, who combines pig and British Blue cattle breeding.