Pedigree dairy breeders from Fermanagh and Tyrone turned on the style at the Royal Ulster Winter Fair in partnership with Danske Bank held in a new Balmoral Pavilion in the showgrounds last Thursday.
Local breeders enjoyed success in the Holstein, Ayrshire, Jersey and Dairy Shorthorn classes. The overall interbreed championship went to Clandeboye Estates.
Seamus Gunn from Derrylin enjoyed the greatest success of local exhibitors with his Jersey and Holstein cattle. In the Jersey section, he took a second prize with Ernevale Ontime Laurels for a heifer in milk and went on to win the reserve heifer championship.
In the Holstein section, Seamus took a second place in the class for a cow in milk, with Ernevale S Storm Holiday VG87. He was also placed in the Heifer in milk class with Ernevale Jas Rosina.
In the Dairy Shorthorn section, Alan Irwin of Clogher, lifted the Reserve heifer championship after a runners-up prize with Denamona Knowe Mist In the Ayrshire section, Stewart Baxter from Ballinamallard, took a runner-up spot for the cow in calf class, with his Erne Calimero Joy ET VG87.
Over the Border in neighbouring Co. Monaghan, D and K. Boyd of Glaslough, won several awards with his Holsteins.
The new 5,000 square feet Balmoral Pavilion was a big draw this year, as it accommodated the showring and small grandstand along with over 150 trade stands representing most spheres of the agricultural industry, not just confined to dairying.
Parking was in the showgrounds, with many vehicles parked on what had formerly been the main showjumping arena which has now been axed, along with the Royal Grandstand and many other buildings.
Some livestock exhibitors were disappointed at the layout of the cattle lines where one said did not attract as many people to see the cattle in their stalls.
However the showring was designed to its usual splendour of green sawdust and festive decorations.
The judge this year was Patrice Simard from Quebec, Canada.
The one-day event is popular with farmers and trade exhibitor with many Fermanagh farmers making the journey to the city for the day. There was plenty of support from local firms too with some of them taking good sized trade space to display their goods and invite farmers for discussion.
Teemore Engineering took the opportunity to launch their new range of calf hutches which was displayed on their stand, along with livestock housing and feeding specialists.
Other local trade exhibitors included Autoline Insurance, Ballylurgan Hardware, Brady Insurance, Dovea Genetics, Fane Valley Stores, Farmcare Products, Glanbia Cheese, Gretta Mullan Natural Health, Jones McGirr and Co., Lakeland Dairies, PSNI Crime Prevention, Teemore Engineering, Ulster Farmers' Union, United Dairy Farmers and Western Farm Enterprises.
An innovation this year was the seminar suite which had nine different presentations throughout the day. These included Chris Osborne of the UFU on the dairy market outlook and CAP Reform, John Henning of Danske Bank on financing the dairy farm business; Sergeant Scott Fallis from the PSNI in Irvinestown on the innovative Farmwatch rural crime scheme, Marie Gulebenzu of AFBI on BVD in herds, David Graham of Animal Health and Welfare NI on the BVD eradication programme; Malcolm Downey, of HSENI on safety with slurry; David Mark of the Countryside Agri Rural Partnership on support and funding for farm businesses in the NI Rural Development Programme, Alan Hopps of DARD speaking about the debate of whether to graze or house stock during the summer and Dr. Conrad Ferris of AFBI on breeding strategies for the NI dairy sector.