Ballymoney farmer wins Dale Farm Dairy Herd Efficiency Award

Ballymoney dairy farmers Alan and Christina Pinkerton have been named the overall winners of the Dale Farm Dairy Herd Efficiency award, which took place earlier this month at the RUAS Winter Fair.

Sponsored by independent dairy consultants Kingshay, the awards recognise producers who manage efficient herds through maximising milk value, utilising purchased feed effectively with the result of optimising milk produced from forage.

The Pinkertons herd of 80 cows is managed on a simple system, with cows strip grazed in summer and fed block silage during the winter with all meal fed through the parlour. In the past year the Pinkerton’s have sold 8,126 litres/cow at 4.31% butterfat and 3.29% protein. The herd achieves both bactocount and somatic cell count bonuses each month which adds to milk price received. The herd is fed 2 tonnes of concentrate per cow giving a feed rate of 0.25kg/litre which results in 4,120 litres being produced from forage.

Runner up was Lois Kirkpatrick, who farms outside Antrim with her father John. The Kirkpatricks’ herd performance is also impressive with 8,372 litres sold/cow at 4.21% butterfat and 3.32% protein. Lois adds to the milk price by receiving a cell count bonus each month and bactocount bonuses on 7 out of the last 12 months. Feed level for the year averaged 2.3 tonnes/cow which gives a feed rate of 0.27 kg/litre resulting in 3,985 litres being produced from forage. The 65 cow herd is paddock grazed during the summer and fed round bale silage during the winter with concentrates allocated through in parlour and out of parlour feeders.

Fred Allen, Dale Farm Chairman, said:

“The Winter Fair is a great opportunity for us to highlight the positive things our members are doing, and we were delighted to bring the Dale Farm Dairy Herd Efficiency awards to this year’s event.

“These awards recognise those farmers who are producing high quality milk, helping us create the very best consumer dairy products, in the most efficient and sustainable way.

“On behalf of Dale Farm, I would like to congratulate overall winners Alan and Christina Pinkerton and runners up Lois and John Kirkpatrick. We are very encouraged by the forward-thinking, farmers in our cooperative like the Pinkertons and the Kirkpatricks. Both have demonstrated a commitment to improvement and a determination to make their farm businesses as productive and sustainable as possible.”

Simon Withers, Kingshay said: “We were delighted to support this year’s Dairy Herd Efficiency awards and recognise the worthy winner and runner up this year. These awards are all about achieving excellence in dairy production. Efficient herds make for more productive and sustainable farm businesses, and I would like to congratulate the Pinkertons and the Kirkpatricks on their ongoing success”.

The 36th Royal Ulster Winter Fair was held on Thursday 8th December 2022 at Eikon Exhibition Centre, Lisburn attracting over 5,000 dedicated farming related visitors each year. For further information visit