High-flying herd aiming for rare treble

A herd based near Dublin Airport has sights set on third major championship of the year, reports Martin Ryan

Run of success: Cyril and John Dowling with Baldonnel FM Sunshine EX90, crowned Supreme Champion, and the Glanbia Exhibitor Bred Champion, at Emerald Expo 2019, with Peter Kenneally (IHFA), Peter Ging (IHFA), Helen Herd (judge) and Charles Gallagher (IHFA)
Run of success: Cyril and John Dowling with Baldonnel FM Sunshine EX90, crowned Supreme Champion, and the Glanbia Exhibitor Bred Champion, at Emerald Expo 2019, with Peter Kenneally (IHFA), Peter Ging (IHFA), Helen Herd (judge) and Charles Gallagher (IHFA)

Martin Ryan

An elite herd based beside Dublin Airport is bidding for a rare hat-trick of dairy titles.

Overall Championship success at the National Dairy Show at the Arena, Millstreet, Co Cork on Saturday will set the 'Baldonnel' Holstein herd apart with a three-in-a-row at the major dairy shows in the same year.

The National Show attracts the crème de la crème for the last major dairy event of year, with intense competition among the champions of the shows throughout the year for the overall Supreme Championship of Show.

Up to 5,000 people are expected to attend.

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Cyril and John Dowling, of Kingswood Farm, Baldonnell, Co Dublin, have enjoyed a remarkable run of success with their Baldonnel herd.

This year the herd claimed the overall Supreme Championship at Emerald Expo, for five-year-old Baldonnel FM Sunshine EX90, adding the Glanbia Exhibitor Bred Championship, and the Diageo Baileys Irish Champion Dairy Cow title - a seventh triumph for the herd - for Baldonnel Flashmatic Draw.

At least one of these champion cows is a certainty to be in the final line-up of contenders for the Supreme title at Millstreet.

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That title would set the herd apart as winner of the three major dairy championships in the same year, with different cows.

Likely challengers include Ballytigue Goldchip Shower, owned by Aidan Frawley from Bruree, Co Limerick, which was Reserve Champion at Virginia in August; and Noel Murphy's champion cow at Iverk Show from his Co Cork herd.

Last year's champion Milliedale Dusk Rhapsody EX94, owned by Donal and Kathleen Neville, of Croagh, Co Limerick, is not expected to defend the title.

Other breeders in with a shout include previous winners, Rickey and John Barrett, of Ballinhassig, Co Cork who showed the Overall Reserve Champion last year; and Aidan Foody and Rory Timlin, with their Tullamore National Livestock Show 2019 Senior Holstein-Friesian Champion, Des Grands Trix Harmonica.

The judge is Erhard Junker, from a small village in Switzerland; he helps run the family cattle trade company, which handles 8,000 to 10,000 cows a year.

He spends at least four days each week driving through Switzerland and buying the animals directly on the farms.

Many Swiss exhibition winners were bought by Erhard as young cows and then sold to other show herds.

In addition to cattle trading, Erhard and Marc run a farm with 60 hectares of land and about 80 cows and heifers.

The farm also has a small herd of show animals under the name Mattenhof Holsteins, which produced the last two European champions, Galys-Vray and DuRahun Chelios Heline.

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