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UK Dairy Day preview: Getting to know this year's judges

With over 180 stalls booked for the cattle show and a prize fund of £18,000 up for grabs, Louise Hartley speaks to the three esteemed breeders who will be judging this year.



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Nico Bons will travel from the Netherlands to judge the Holsteins at this year's show.
Nico Bons will travel from the Netherlands to judge the Holsteins at this year's show.

Holstein judge - Nico Bons, Netherlands

 

Netherlands-based Nico Bons took over his family farm at just 21 years of age after his father died and his brother was seriously injured in an accident.

 

From the outset he knew his lifetime in dairy farming would be devoted to developing his pedigree Holstein Bons herd and showing cows. In the last 60 years the family hasnot bought any cows or embryos, but bred purely from the herd’s own bloodlines, creating a herd with deep and impressive pedigrees.

 

When Mr Bons, 39, took over from his father the herd’s average classification was 80.2 – the 60-head milking herd average now stands at 87.3 and includes 29 Excellent (EX) and 31 Very Goods (VG), including heifers. Yield average is 10,540kg per cow per lactation at 4.35 per cent butterfat and 3.5 per cent protein.

 

Managing his farm in Ottoland with his wife Lianne and their three young children, Mr Bons’ goal is to breed, own and show the grand champion at the European Holstein Show.

 

He will be coming over to UK Dairy Day with a wealth of judging experience under his belt, including shows in Belgium, Sweden, France, Finland, Denmark, Ireland and Spain. He is also featured on the official Canadian judges list.

 

“I am really looking forward to judging at this year’s UK Dairy Day. Last year I followed the show on Facebook and thought ‘wow, there are some seriously good cows ‘.

 

“When I got the phone call asking if I would like to judge, I said yes straight away.

 

“As a huge enthusiast for good udders, my grand champion must, at least, have a top quality udder.”


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Ayrshire and Shorthorn judge: John Suffern, County Antrim

Ayrshire and Shorthorn judge: John Suffern, County Antrim

Third generation Ayrshire breeder John Suffern, County Antrim, will be commanding the Ayrshire and Dairy Shorthorn rings.

 

Mr Suffern owns the 110-head pedigree Ayrshire Ravenhill herd which includes 36 EX and 45 VG cows.

 

Operating a grazing system and calving mainly in winter, the herd yields 8,200kg per cow per year at 4.085 per cent butterfat and 3.33 per cent protein.

 

Fresh from judging at the Royal Welsh Show this July, Mr Suffern has also taken centre stage at the Royal Highland, Great Yorkshire, Royal Cornwall, Cheshire Show and Livestock Event, as well as the Swedish Red Breed (SRB) National Show in Sweden last autumn.

 

His passion for the Ayrshire breed has seen the 48-year-old secure 30 Ayrshire champion titles and two inter-breed championships with his own herd.

 

Notable cow families at home include Tulip and Ethel, with one Ethel daughter taking the inter-breed championship at Balmoral Show and another the Ayrshire title for three years running.

 

Currently getting ready for third cut silage after whole-cropping some wheat, Mr Suffern says he is looking forward to presiding over the coloured breeds at the show.

 

“I am looking for a clean shouldered, open ribbed dairy cow, with a level top-line and clean bone. A high and wide rear udder, with plenty of veination will also see cows going higher in the line-up,” adds Mr Suffern.

Jersey and Brown Swiss judge: Mark Logan, County Down

Jersey and Brown Swiss judge: Mark Logan, County Down

Based in County Down, Mark Logan manages one of the most well-known pedigree dairy herds in the UK, Clandeboye Estate.

 

It is home to 65 Holsteins, with a 305-day average of 10,500kg per cow at 4.1 per cent butterfat and 3.2 per cent protein and 25 Jerseys producing 6,300kg per cow at 5.2 per cent butterfat and 3.9 per cent protein.

 

In his 24 years at the 809-hectare (2,000-acre) privately-owned estate, Mr Logan has transformed the non-pedigree Friesian herd into the winning Holstein UK premier pedigree herd in 2007, currently consisting of 28 EX and 40 VG cows.

 

He says: “We graded up the non-pedigree cows, imported four Holsteins and one Jersey from Canada and purchased a few more from local breeders.

 

“Probably 50 per cent of the current herd go back to Templedale Molly Prelude, one of the two-month-old Canadan Holsteins we imported. Its descendants form the Rosina family which are tremendously good herd cows.”

 

The herd’s show winning accolades include securing the supreme championship at the Irish National in 2007, 2008 and 2012 and inter-breed champion at the Royal Ulster Show in 2008 and Royal Ulster Winter Fair in 2012.

 

Having undertaken a host of judging assignments across the UK for Ireland for Holstein, Jerseys and inter-breed classes, a good udder and locomotion will be the two most important criteria when Mr Logan steps into the ring at UK Dairy Day.

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