Father and son James and Sam Martin from Newtownards, County Down, made history in the beef ring to become the first British Blue breeders to secure an interbreed championship at the Balmoral Show.
Their record setter was their home-bred five-year-old cow Springhill Golden Girl, sired by Gitan Du P’Tit Mayeur and out of Springhill Country Girl. She was shown with her four-month-old bull calf at foot, sired by Springhill Gladiator.
James Martin, who has been competing at Balmoral for 30 years and has won 10 breed titles in that time, said he was really pleased to win the interbreed gong for the first time.
Golden Girl is no stranger to the limelight, having won breed champion at Balmoral in 2014 as a senior heifer as well as several interbreed titles at local shows. She next travels to the Royal Highland Show.
In reserve, and rounding off a fantastic show for JCB Commercials, was the champion commercial beef winner, J-Lo, a Limousin-cross.
She was bought at Hilltown Christmas Show last year from Peter Fegan, Rostrevor, for £1,100 by Gareth Corrie – who runs JCB Commercials, a 500-head fat cattle enterprise – with Johnny Neal and Charles Beverland in Newtownards, Co Down.
She was led out by Chris Johnson in what was her first outing and she made it a great debut, winning female champion and commercial champion before taking the reserve interbreed title. She next heads to the Royal Highland Show to contest her title.
Judge Arwel Owen, who owns a breeding herd of about 40 Charolais in Welshpool, said Golden Girl was a “real testament to the breed”.
He said: “She is a five-year-old cow, she calves every year and has had no caesareans. She’s a wonderful producer of milk, came with a calf at foot, and she’s a worthy champion. There are very few cows in the breed that would have this track record.
“She is representative of where the breed is going and the breed needs to go.”
Mr Owen added the quality of reserve interbreed beef champion J-Lo had set a precedent for commercial cattle.
“Commercial cows account for 90% of our business in the UK and Ireland. We need to produce them to this quality for the market.”
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Runner-up in the commercial beef interbreed went to the Limousin-cross Rocket, bred by brothers Derek and Mark Maxwell, Ballinagare, County Roscommon.
Born in April 2015, she is sired by Brooklands KJB and is out of the Belgium Blue cow Black Dimond by KYR. She went on to be placed third in the junior interbreed championship.
She was first shown last year with her mother and they won the reserve all-Ireland cow and calf title.
Judge Berwyn Hughes – who keeps a small herd of pedigree Limousins and 350 Limousin cross Blue and Charolais cross Blue beef cattle, including 130 sucklers in Cwmhendryd, Ceredigion – said reserve interbreed beef champion J-Lo was “as good as I have seen in a long time”.
“She was just oozing showiness. She was so stylish, so clean, with tremendous carcass traits. I couldn’t fault her.”
Meanwhile, he said the reserve was the best-fleshed animal in the ring.
“He was really meaty on top, tremendously fleshed, long and clean and on the whole a really good show bullock.”