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Weather swells crowds at Limavady Show

Farmers praying for rain so grass can recover

By Richard Halleron

A North Antrim dairy farmer has said he is feeding his cows a full winter ration, such is the challenge posed by the continuing drought.

Speaking at the Limavady Agricultural Show on Saturday, Iain McLean revealed the hardships facing the agriculture industry because of the summer heatwave.

"It's the only way that I can ensure the animals get the nutrition they need," he said.

"Grass stopped growing four weeks ago.

"The grazing paddocks on the farm are now used as resting areas for the cows. This is a very expensive way to produce milk in the month of July. I have no alternative.

"We need rain now - and lots of it - otherwise farmers across Northern Ireland will be facing into next winter with critical shortages of grass silages and other forages."

The McLean family had a tremendous day in the competition rings at the show.

They won the dairy inter-breed championship with an eye-catching Ayrshire fifth calver, Garthland Redwing.

Bought in Scotland, this is only her first season on the show circuit here. She calved during April and is currently giving 50 litres of milk per day.

For good measure, the McLean family also brought home the Holstein championship from Limavady.

The beef inter-breed championship was won by the McGuinness family from Eglinton with their nine-year-old British Blue cow Delliah.

The animal has an impressive show record going back many years.

She won the Blue championship at Tullamore in 2012.

Meanwhile, the visitors to Limavady this year were truly spoilt for choice when it came to the sheep classes.

"We had a total of 750 sheep enter plus a number of late registrations on the day," said sheep steward Ian Mark.

The sheep inter-breed championship was won by Roger Strawbridge from Coleraine with his eye-catching Texel ewe.

The reserve went to Allister McNeill from Toomebridge with a North Country Cheviot breeding female.

Judge Drew McMillan described his champion as an excellent example of the Texel breed. He added: "From what I can see, the sheep industry in Northern Ireland can look forward to an exciting future."

Mr Mark confirmed that the continuing good weather had helped attract a large crowd to Limavady.

"But we need rain and it needs to come in the very near future," he said.

"Otherwise the additional costs, impacting on agriculture later in this year, will be immense."

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