Northern Ireland will host the BGS summer meeting later this month


Over three days, delegates will have the opportunity to visit excellent farms, undertake several industry tours and attend a gala dinner at the Hilton Hotel, Templepatrick.

The event runs from June 27-29 with details of the various tours as follows:

Day 1 – Monday June 27 – County Down

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Brian, Lynne and Ewan McCracken look forward to welcoming visitors when BGS visits their farm in Ballymiscaw later this month

Beattie, Margaret and Reggie Lilburn, Dromore. The family manages a pedigree herd of 250 Holsteins and followers. The herd is managed with quality grass and forage as the key to a high level of cow performance. All lawns are regularly reseeded with the latest varieties of grasses. Four silage cuts are made each year with an ME of more than 12 MJ reached.

Brian and Lynn McCracken, Newtownards. The 360-acre farm supports 230 dairy cows and replacement cattle. Making the grass work through planning, measurement and adopting flexible management practices helps achieve sustainable levels of milk production at controlled costs. Herd production figures for 2021 were 6050 l/cow at 4.55% fat and 3.66% protein. Feed purchased for 2021 averaged 1.1 t/cow. The stocking rate on the pasture area available for dairy cows was on average 2.7 cows/ha in 2021.

John Martin and his family, Greyabbey. John was the winner of the BGS Grassland Farmer of the Year 2019 competition and operates 73ha, including 15.5ha of short rotation coppice for biomass. The main business is a herd of 710 ewes including 160 lambs. All ewes are home raised, with a blend of Aberfield, Highlander and Belclare genetics used over many years to create a functional housebred composite ewe. Each year, 40 replacement dairy heifers are grazed and wintered to add income and benefit from the advantages of mixed grazing. Six hectares of spring barley are grown for home use, which also facilitates a rotational reseeding program.

Day 2 – Tuesday June 28

British Grassland Society Grassland Farmer of the Year John Martin will welcome delegates to the Northern Ireland Summer Meeting at the family farm in Greyabbey later this month

Philip and David Clarke, Auger, Co. Tyrone. The farm is 120 acres with grass essential to the success of this spring calving system. The 85 crossbred cows calved in the spring produce 4,250 liters of milk from fodder. The family farm focuses on managing a very tight calving pattern with herd fertility as a priority and the farm has a number of management practices in place to ensure a high six week calving rate. Simple management systems aim to optimize profitability.

John Egerton and Sons, Rosslea, County Fermanagh. It is a family farm that operates four businesses – beef suckler cows, plains sheep, Blade calf rearing system and contract dairy heifer breeding. The farm adopts the latest pasture technologies to make maximum use of grazed grass in all ventures. Attention to detail is evident on the farm and includes the long-term use of AI breeding data to significantly improve the maternal genetics of the suckler herd and the recording of calf weights to optimize growth and performances. John is growing the business in a sustainable way as his three sons are all eager to work on the family farm.

AFBI Agribusiness and Biosciences Institute, Hillsborough, Co. Down. Delegates will learn about the latest R&D work undertaken on ruminant production, climate change and the environment. The work undertaken by the AFBI supports on-farm development work and supports Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry

Day 3 – Wednesday June 29

The beef and sheep farm of John Egerton and his family will be visited on Tuesday June 28 during the BGS Summer Meeting in Northern Ireland John Egerton is pictured second left with his wife Elizabeth and sons William, Samuel and Robert

Alastair McNeilly, Muckamore. Here, 163 acres of grassland are home to a herd of 100 suckler cows calving in the spring and a meat birthing system. Alastair attaches great importance to a short calving period and excellent cow fertility. Males are finished as steers, sold primarily deadweight. Heifers not used for breeding are sold finished with the objective of having heifers sold at 20 months and steers at 22-24 months. Replacements are bred at home, with a combination of carefully selected natural service bulls and maternal AI bulls. Over the past few years, Alastair has made significant progress in establishing pasture infrastructure, focusing on fertility and cow type, and increasing gross margin per hectare. The farm also supports a broiler finishing business.

The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), Greenmount. This tour will give you the opportunity to see one of the leading agricultural education establishments in the British Isles first hand. The Greenmount Campus operates dairy, beef and sheep businesses with a strong focus on environmental stewardship including constructed wetlands, ammonia mitigation and is LEAF accredited. Delegates will be able to learn about knowledge, innovation and technology exchange programs where CAFRE works directly with farmers to support the sustainable development of their businesses.

There will be a gala dinner on Monday 27th June and an informal barbecue at AFBI Hillsborough on Tuesday 28th June following the BGS Annual General Meeting when current BGS President Drew McConnell hands over the reins to his successor Dr. Elizabeth Stockdale.

Obviously, events like this are highly dependent on sponsorship and the British Grassland Society, Ulster Grassland Society and Fermanagh Grassland Club are grateful to all the generous sponsors who support the 2022 Summer Meeting, especially sponsors platinum listed, including ABP; DAERA; Dale Farm Ltd and YARA UK Ltd.

Augher’s Philip and David Clarke look forward to seeing the BGS Summer Meeting delegates visiting their farm on June 28

The BGS Summer Meeting is open to all with a range of options as a full delegate or day delegate for specific days, ALL bookings must be made in advance via the BGS website www.britishgrassland .com then click on Events and summer meeting

The Lilburn family from Dromore will be hosting a visit during the BGS Summer Meeting on June 27 with David, Beattie, Margaret and Reggie Lilburn pictured
Alastair & Denise McNeilly’s farm will host delegates to the BGS Summer Meeting and no doubt their sons Jack, Tom and Sam will be there on June 29

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