The Balmoral Show 2024 Inter-Breed Dairy Championship was won by Mostragee Holsteins, owned by Tom and Mark Henry, yesterday (Friday, May 17).

Their farm is located close to the village of Stranocum in north Co. Antrim.

The winning cow – Mostragee Bomber Louise – calved for the fourth time in January of this year. She is currently giving 64L of milk per day. The winning cow was sired by the Henrys’ stock bull Mostragee Bomber.

In her last lactation, she gave over 12,000L of milk.

Louise is no stranger to success at Balmoral Park. Back in 2022, she was selected as the Honourable Mention at the Royal Ulster Winter Fair.

The prestige associated with the Mostragee inter-breed victory at Balmoral is reflected in the fact that Louise overcame the challenge of Hallow Octain Twizzle, exhibited by the Jones family, from Co Wexford, to win the Holstein breed Championship earlier in the day.

Twizzle was the 2023 All-Ireland three-year-old in milk at the 2023 Emerald Expo event.

Duncan Hunter, a dairy breeding consultant from Hertfordshire in England, judged the dairy inter-breed class at Balmoral 2024.

He described his champion as a cow with excellent balance, saying: “She has tremendous dairy character and would perform well in any production environment.

“And the same principle holds for all the breed champions that have been selected at Balmoral this year.”

Hunter went on to say that improving sustainability is the key challenge now facing the milk sector.

“The industry must meet the climate change targets that have been set by government,” he said.

Hunter said this is achievable if farmers push to improve efficiency levels. And the issues of breeding, feeding and herd management all come to the fore in this context.

“There is no need for the industry, in my opinion, to rely on the development of technologies that can specifically reduce methane and other greenhouse gas emission levels.”

But Balmoral 2024 wasn’t all about on-the day dairy success. A highlight of this year’s event was the presentation of a Master Breeder Award by Holstein UK president, Andrew Jones, to the McCann family from Bangor in Co. Down.

Their Simlahill herd comprises 170 top pedigree black and white cows.

The Master Breeder programme rewards Holstein Society members whose herds achieve a high standard in both classification and production.

McCann family members, from Bangor in Co Down, receive their Holstein UK Master Breeder Award. L to r: Jill McCann with sons Ferris, and Finn; Holstein UK president Andrew Jones; and Nicholas McCann with daughters Acacia and Sienna

To be eligible for inclusion in the calculation, animals must be a minimum 87.5% Holstein; have a recorded calving date in the last two years; and be officially recorded as having produced at least one lactation of 250 days or more.