2023 open day report by Donal Carey

Ballyclider herd hosts tremendous IHFA National Open Day 2023

Peter, Mary, and Paul Ging & family, Ballyclider herd, hosted a tremendously positive IHFA national Open Day on Tuesday July 11th last. The weather on the day bucked the trend of a disappointingly wet and rainy Summer with welcome sunshine and pleasant heat prevailing. Visitors in their thousands attended as members from all over the country made the journey to the Laois townland of Ballyclider which is located in close proximity to the town of Portlaoise with convenient access to the M7 motorway.

The quality and high calibre renown of the Ballyclider herd is such that this was the second occasion that the herd has been selected to host the IHFA National Open day having previously hosted this prestigious event in 1995.

The busy programme of events was commenced with a welcoming address from IHFA C.E.O. Laurence Feeney.

Activity on the day included IHFA National Inter Club stockjudging, Macra Na Feirme national stockjudging, announcement of results of IHFA National Herds Competition and presentation of prizes, and presentation of IHFA National Genetic Merit awards. A successful celebratory sale of choice youngstock from the Ballyclider herd conducted by Taaffe Auctions Ltd concluded the IHFA National Open Day proceedings.

Title sponsor of the event was Tirlán, and the official opening was performed by John Murphy, Chairman. In his remarks he singled out the efficiency performances achieved on farm, praising the family labour involved as a hard-working team effort. Peter participated in a public Q & A session with James Fitzpatrick, Tirlán/GAIN Business Manager after the conclusion of the Open Day stockjudging where he outlined herd management strategies particularly in successfully achieving key growth and body weight targets of breeding stock.

Associate IHFA Open Day sponsors included FBD Insurance, Greenvale Animal Feeds and Volac who sponsored the YMA stockjudging prizes and provided merchandise to under 12’s.


Ballyclider herd Background

The Ballyclider herd was registered in 1982. At that time the herd consisted of forty-six cows. Cow numbers increased gradually over the years with current herd size of 180 milkers.  A number of choice purchases of Pedigree Registered stock in the early formative years helped aid herd expansion. The Chris family traces back to one of those early purchases. Other cow families purchased in the early development years include Begonia and Beatrice from Lisduff and the Darkie family from Cyril Dowling, Baldonnel herd, tracing back to the Barbican herd of David Heenan in Northern Ireland.

The introduction of Holstein bloodlines resulted in desired improvements in herd performance. Ullswater Royal Sovereign and Bartonhoo Prosperity are among the successful AI bulls used who performed impressively well, increasing milk output and improving dairy type within the herd. Use of IHFA Classification service assessing Conformation traits was commenced in the mid 1980’s and this herdbook service continues to be of tremendous help in attaining herd performance benchmarks.

In 2022 the herd produced in excess of 1.6 million litres of milk. Currently the herd includes 165 cows Classified VG/EX. There are 23 cows of 5th lactation and older, all of whom are Classified VG/EX. The herd has twice won the IHFA National Herds Competition, large herd category and was also placed many times. The family enjoys exhibiting stock at local shows. A particular highlight was when Ballyclider Darkie 31 EX94 5E won 1st Confined cow in milk and Honourable Mention Tullamore National Livestock Show in 2015. This achievement was marked by Holstein International who published a profile feature.

Herd quality emphasised on the day.

The herd’s prominent cow families were represented in the National Interclub stockjudging with four top quality classes put forward for judging. The Heifers in milk averaged VG86, all six Junior cows in their second lactation were VG87 or VG88 while all six Senior Cows are scored EX (Excellent) on Conformation. This speaks volumes as to the quality breeding of the Ballyclider herd.  The Judges were;

Aisling Neville, (Limetree herd) – Judge of YMA under 12 class

Michael Maunsell, (Maunsell herd) – Judge of Heifers in milk class

Charles Gallagher, Laois Offaly club and retired IHFA C.E – Judge of Junior Cows in milk class

Dessie Dunleavy, former manager of the Moneymore herd – Judge of Senior Cows in milk class


Laois Offaly Club help & support

Members of the Laois Offaly Club provided stellar help and assistance to the Ging family in the build up to the event and on the day itself. When speaking at the conclusion of the stockjudging, Peter was effusive with praise and thanks to fellow club members for the tremendous support lended. He stated that big numbers of club members voluntarily gathered on the farm on a regular basis in the build-up to help with training and leading cows, heifers and calves. He said that the spirit of co-operation and teamwork had been brilliant and was so evident to see. All handlers leading cattle on the day were members of the Laois Offaly club. Thanks to Denis Donoghue and Richard Hamilton for their leadership. Club members also took charge of car parking such that attendees were greeted with a friendly local welcome upon arrival. Also sincere thanks to the cohort of club members & helpers who were on farm on the day prior, lending assistance to complete tasks on a day of challenging weather where the rain was incessant.

As one of the founding committee members of the Laois Offaly Club Peter in his comments thanked fellow co-founding committee member Charles Gallagher, retired IHFA C.E. Peter said that it was Charlie who advised him in the early 1980’s to get involved in Pedigree breeding.


Ballyclider Open Day Celebratory Sale

To mark the occasion of hosting the IHFA National Open Day a celebratory sale offering choice lots of youngstock from the herd were offered for sale. The sale was conducted by Taaffe Auctions. Animals forward on the day included heifer calves and some in-calf heifers. Twenty-four lots sold achieving an average price of 2,200 guineas. Top price was 3,100 guineas for Lot 2 Ballyclider Cocarde 63

Trade Stands Display

Close on fifty trade stands were in attendance on the day displaying a cross section of commercial products and service offerings relevant to the dairy sector. This strong commercial presence from industry is a strong positive endorsement for IHFA events and its membership.

Herd Competition Results
Spring Calving Herds
Breeder NameHerd PrefixAddress
1st Sean Begley Slieverue Dingle, Co. Kerry
2nd Edward FitzGerald Toberfort Kilmallock, Co. Limerick
3rd Ronan Siochru Burnham Dingle, Co.Kerry
Herds 80 cows & less
Breeder NameHerd PrefixAddress
1st Philip Jones Hallow Gorey, Co. Wexford
2nd Noel O’Donovan Ringleader Clonakilty, Co.Cork
3rd Paul Brian & Colin Walsh Drishogue Oldtown, Co. Dublin
Herds greater than 80 cows
Breeder NameHerd PrefixAddress
1st Rickey Barrett Laurelelm Ballinhassig, Co. Cork
2nd Joseph & Kevin Doran Dondale Naas, Co. Kildare
3rd Gary Hurley Clonpaddin Arklow, Co. Wicklow
Judges Choice Prize
Breeder NameHerd PrefixAddress
1st The Hurley Family Clonpaddin Arklow, Co. Wicklow
2nd Edwin Bennett Churchlane Ballinagh, Co. Cavan
3rd Micheal Spillane Mountain Fethard, Co. Tipperary
Interclub Stockjudging Results
12 – 18 Years
ClubTeam Members
1st Carlow/Kilkenny Conor Gibbons, Conor Coleman, Manus Murphy
2nd Breffni Oriel Sarah Williamson, Stephen McCoy, Zoe Greenan
3rd Slaney Will Jones, Chloe Goff, Bill Quigley
Highest Individual Award Stephen Harty, Kerry Club
18 – 26 Years
ClubTeam Members
1st Breffni Oriel Andrea Rafferty, Mark McCoy, Brendan Reilly
2nd Carlow/Kilkenny Padraic Coleman, Josephine McCarthy, Hannah Murphy
3rd Galway Donal Coppinger, Thomas Feeney, James Gildea
Highest Individual Award Andrea Rafferty, Breffni Oriel Club
ClubTeam Members
1st Carlow/Kilkenny Padraic Murphy, Eamonn Coleman, Trevor Stephenson
2nd Slaney Colin Stevenson, Philip Jones, Anthony Kealy
3rd Donegal Alan Macbeth, Roy Cromie, Trevor Lockhart
Highest Individual Award Donal Burke, Limerick/Clare Club
Top 50 Open Stockjudging Results
Name Address Points
1. Emer Curtin Listowel, Kerry 1416
2. David Curtin Listowel, Kerry 1411
3. John Walsh Kerry 1388
4. Haesel Dickson Moate, Westmeath 1369
5. Cathal Mulhall Danville, Kilkenny 1364
6. Garry Hurley Arklow, Wicklow 1361
7. John Coppinger Colemanstown, Galway 1345
8. Robert Shannon Ballinascarth, Cork 1341
9. Ronan O Mahony Killarney, Kerry 1333
10. David Mccoy Monaghan 1326
11. Peter Kennelly Ardfert, Kerry 1318
12. George White Ballygarvan, Cork 1310
13. John Roche Ballyedmond, Macketstown 1306
14. John Horgan Bruree, Limerick 1306
15. Julie Butler Dunlavin, Wicklow 1302
16. Steven Corrigan Rathvilly, Carlow 1300
17. Hannah Greenan Crosshugh, Monaghan 1298
18. Jack Shanahan Castlemartyr, Cork 1298
19. Sean Faulkner Donegal 1295
20. Ethan Keean Blueball, Offaly 1293
21. Sean Ryan Golden, Tipperary 1293
22. Michael Coleman Bandon, Cork 1292
23. Sarah Lyster Lisleitrim, Monaghan 1288
24. Asad Nawaz Dunmore East, Waterford 1286
25. Graeme Taylor Carrigallin, Leitrim 1286
26. Victor Jackson Wicklow 1285
27. Conor Lehane Bandon, Cork 1284
28. Lucife Botrel Clonakility, Cork 1281
29. Darragh Sheehy Skibbereen, Cork 1280
30. John Curtin Limerick 1280
31. Mark Mccarthy Mullinahone, Tipperary 1279
32. James Greenan Longwood, Meath 1275
33. Sean Begley Dingle, Chiarrai 1272
34. John Atkinson Slaney 1265
35. Kate Maunsell Tralee, Kerry 1263
36. Edwin Bennett Ballinagh, Cavan 1256
37. Marguerite Flanagan Termonfeckin, Louth 1255
38. Bryan Daly Killarney, Kerry 1255
39. Jason Wilkin Newbliss, Monaghan 1254
40. William Horgan Killarney, Kerry 1253
41. George Kingston Toger, Cork 1249
42. Nicole Groome Rhode, Offaly 1246
43. James Egan Tarbert, Kerry 1245
44. Avril Helen Carrigallin, Leitrim 1244
45. James Kingston 1242
46. Hannah Williamson Drumshanny, Monaghan 1242
47. Brendan Greenan Feragh, Monaghan 1242
48. Donal Osborne Blarney, Cork 1241
49. Michael O Sullivan Crookstown, Cork 1240
50. Norris Beattie Delvin, Westmeath 1240