This week, I made the trip over to the UK to visit some Hereford herds and attend the 2017 National Hereford Show in Tenbury. It was my first farming trip to England and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. Herefordshire is the ancestral home of the native Hereford breed and the numbers of Hereford cattle still being farmed there are extremely high. During my trip, I got the opportunity to visit the Haven, Free Town, Boycefield and Auckvale pedigree herds – all of whom are heavy hitters on the pedigree circuit across the water. Each herd boasted tremendous quality throughout, with over 100 cows and calves in some of the farms. When dealing with that volume of cattle, it’s easy to let the quality slide but in these cases the standard of stock viewed was truly exceptional. The British hospitality was second to none and the whole trip went off without a hitch.
The visit was rounded off with a stop at the National Hereford Show in Tenbury over the weekend. This show is the premier event on the English showing circuit for horned Herefords and boasted an entry of over 100 entries across 16 different individual classes. The championship went to a young heifer calf from the Free Town Hereford herd with terrific entries competing in every single class. The show was a tremendous spectacle and a wonderful endorsement for the breed. It made a lovely change to be a spectator at a show for a change, although I wasn’t too idle as in addition to my photography work, I was asked to give a ringside interview by master of ceremonies Clive Davies who is the ‘voice’ of the show each year. I’m normally not short of a word or two and luckily the gravity of the occasion didn’t get to me this time either. There were several Irish visitors in the audience and they all very kindly reported back to me that I acquitted myself well, which was nice to hear!
Upon returning home to Ireland, it was all systems go on the home farm as we had to prep and organise a total entry of twelve cattle across three different breeds for Nenagh Show that took place on Bank Holiday Monday. Twelve entries are about the most we can comfortably handle on an individual day; it’s a huge amount of work but it’s fantastic to bring out such numbers on our home turf. We meet a huge amount of farmers each year at Nenagh, many of whom have purchased bulls and heifers from us in the past. It’s so vital to keep the name and herd out in the public eye and keep the Kilsunny flag flying as much as possible.
The Kilsunny show team excelled themselves bringing home three 1st prizes, seven 2nd prizes and a third prize from our twelve entries as well as the reserve Hereford heifer calf championship, the overall male championship in the dairy ring and two perpetual trophies for specific class wins. Our Hereford heifer, Kilsunny Lass Matilda won the biggest class of the show, taking 1st prize in a very strong class of eleven senior heifers. She will be next competing at the National Hereford Show in Tuallmore on Sunday and this latest big win is the ideal preparation for another good run there. It’s so important to get the cattle to peak at the right times over the summer and we seem to be on the right track with her.
Our dairy bull calf, Kilsunny Patrol 2, exceeded all expectations, claiming the overall male championship in the dairy section on his very first day out. He is sired by the UK bred Skyhigh Patrol and is out of a VG young cow from our Trump family. His dam is doing 3.75% protein and he’ll be a candidate for the big dairy breeding sales next Spring. Off-farm private sales in the yard have been very strong over the last few seasons, which makes bringing bulls to public auction difficult. This year, we have most of the Autumn born pedigree dairy bull calves haltered already and the plan is to exhibit a lot more of them at sales in 2018.
This week, our entire focus will be on the upcoming National Hereford Show at Tullamore. It’s the premier show for Irish Herefords with multiple national titles and championship up for grabs so it’s the most important event of our entire summer season. Kilsunny Herefords will be exhibiting ten cattle at this year’s show and we’re so looking forward to competing amongst the biggest and best herds in the country. Not a single win at Tullamore will come easy so stay tuned to see how team Kilsunny fares at the biggest show of the year!