Emerald Expo 2019 – Gearing up for the Show

Emerald Expo 2019 will be held at the Virginia Show Centre on Saturday 27th of April. Breeders from all over Ireland are will participate on the day.
Generally, showing is a family affair. We speak to one such family about farming life and showing.

Drumshanny Herd
Trevor and Lynne Williamson & family
Red and White Monaghan based IHFA herd gears up for Emerald Expo

Trevor and Lynne with daughters Rebekah, Sarah and Hannah

My grandfather started a milking herd on the farm in 1950. Growing up I was very interested in cows so it was a natural progression to register the herd soon after taking over from my parents Ian (R.I.P.) and Nan. In 2012 the Drumshanny herd was established with IHFA and we graded up to attain pedigree status. I was pleasantly surprised with the number of pedigrees achieved at the outset. We always appreciated a good, hard-working cow and it seemed a natural fit to progress by officially recording the information.

It’s fair to say I have a flair for the Red & White Holstein cow. Through planned breeding decisions over a sustained period of time, the herd is now almost all Red & White. There seems to be a perception held by some that Red & White Holsteins have inferior milk production however this is certainly not my experience.

Showing is a very enjoyable aspect of the herd. All of the family is involved and takes a lot of work preparing – it doesn’t just happen on the day. Credit must go to Lynne and the girls for the work they put in. They’re very dedicated and run a well-oiled machine at this stage, knowing the jobs that need to be done and the tasks seem to fall into place.

Last year we milked 70 cows with an average milk recorded performance of 8,354kgs milk, 535kgs milk solids. Herd health performance is steady with an average SCC of 47 last year and a calving interval average of 364 days. The herd has a split calving pattern of 65% spring and 35% winter calving.

There are 34 cows scored VG/EX on classification, which is the top two grades of conformation scoring. Classification is a very informative IHFA service and it has been a big benefit since we started, not knowing what was involved or what to expect. It’s a great tool to help give independent benchmarks and it helps inform herd breeding policy. Longevity and an ability for cows to mature and last in the herd is very important.

I was delighted to receive the first Excellent score when a home-bred Emma cow achieved EX92. To my untrained eye she was a cow I really liked and it was very encouraging that her qualities were rewarded with a high score in the classification system.

Specific traits that I look for are udder conformation, functional feet and legs, correct rump structure especially pin setting and a hard-topped spine. Functionality is so important, a cow’s structural base has to be sound in order for her to achieve her potential.

Taking part in shows is an interest all the family enjoys. Our three daughters Rebekah, Sarah and Hannah are all very involved in YMA and enjoy showing calves at each opportunity. They have been very involved from a young age and have come up through the ranks. They have made new friends from all over the country and their involvement showing calves has nurtured an interest in the rest of the herd.

Sarah and Rebekah taking first place in their respective handling classes the the RUAS Winter Fair 2018

We certainly are looking forward to taking part at the Emerald Expo later this month. With the Virginia Showgrounds in Cavan as the venue it is fairly close to home. We will have entries for a variety of the classes including the YMA Showmanship League classes and the girls will be doing their best in these Handling classes. These classes are very important for the Young Members because it is their own skills and talents that are under scrutiny – it’s not the quality of the calf that is being judged. Uniquely, these YMA classes put the emphasis on the Handler, not the calf.

Examples of hard-working cows in the herd includes;
Drumshanny Trill Rita VG89 in her 2nd lactation produced 9,829kgs milk and 625kgs milk solids.
Drumshanny Jericho Taylor Red EX91 2E recorded 9,377kgs milk, 650kgs milk solids, 3.60% protein in her 2nd lactation. Her dam was also scored Excellent (EX) on conformation.

I believe in taking a common-sense, down-to-earth approach to breeding using all the tools available. At times you would wonder if breeding is being made unnecessarily complicated.

The family are members of the Breffni Oriel Friesian Breeders Club and it is a tremendous outlet for like-minded dairy farmers locally. A wide variety and diversity of events are held during the year. Our interest in showing stems from involvement in the club.

All are welcome to Emerald Expo 2019 at the Virginia Show Centre on Saturday 27th of April from 9.00am. Expo Express – a sale of deep pedigreed young stock – will take place on the occasion of the show and will provide breeders with a chance to introduce some new families to their herds. A catalogue will be available HERE
Admission is free and all are welcome.

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