An action-packed schedule coupled with glorious sunny weather for the 155th Balmoral Show held on the outskirts of Lisburn, pulled in record breaking crowds and with it a fantastic atmosphere.

The Royal Ulster Agricultural Society confirmed that more than 120,000 visitors flocked to the showground during the four-day event to view a dazzling display of top quality livestock.

The Scottish Farmer: Holstein champion and inter-breed dairy Mostragee Bomber Louise 3 from the Henry familyHolstein champion and inter-breed dairy Mostragee Bomber Louise 3 from the Henry family

Entries were well supported across all sections, with sheep numbers at an all-time high – up 15% with 1200 head requiring more penning than previous years.

Among the crowds were Stormont’s agriculture minister Andrew Muir, and DAERA’s recently appointed chief vet Brian Dooher. Speaking at the show they confirmed that key priorities going forward include climate change and the eradication of diseases such as bTB and BVD. There is also significant concern surrounding the availability of veterinary medicines and vaccines in Northern Ireland when the post Brexit ‘grace period’ ends in December 2025.

The Scottish Farmer: Layward Cosmo Starry Fizz the Jersey champion and reserve dairy from the Flemming familyLayward Cosmo Starry Fizz the Jersey champion and reserve dairy from the Flemming family

Brian Dooher urged livestock producers to be vigilant in the months ahead, as risk assessments indicate there is a high probability of a new introduction of Bluetongue disease (BTV-3) entering GB. DAERA is committed to minimising the risk, and as a result, all live animal movements from GB to NI remain suspended for the foreseeable future.

One of the highlights of the show, on the fourth and final day, was the crowning of the supreme champion of champions. The task of selecting the overall winner was in the capable hands of The Scottish Farmer’s former editor Ken Fletcher.

The Scottish Farmer: Suffolk champion and inter-breed sheep was a gimmer owned by Mark PriestleySuffolk champion and inter-breed sheep was a gimmer owned by Mark Priestley

An array of breed champions, ranging from horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, rabbits and birds, lined-up for a chance to secure the £1000 prize cheque.

Toast of the 2024 show, and a popular choice, was the Limousin and inter-breed beef champion Dinmore Sensation, an in-calf heifer owned by Trevor Shields, Kilkeel, Co Down. Mr Shields has been showing pedigree pigs at Balmoral for 49 years, and established the 60-cow Glenmarshal Limousin herd just three years ago.

The rising three-year-old heifer, Dinmore Sensation is the result of an ET mating between the 20,000gns Meadowrig Pedro and the multi-award-winning show cow Dinmore Perfection. Bred by Paul Dawes from Herefordshire, she was purchased for 30,000gns as a six-month-old calf at an on-farm reduction sale in 2022.

The Scottish Farmer: Mark Priestley also won the Texel championship with a gimmerMark Priestley also won the Texel championship with a gimmer

No stranger to the limelight, Dinmore Sensation was senior, female and reserve supreme champion at the NI Limousin Club’s National Show last year. She is in calf to the herd’s €30,000 stock bull Carrickmore Schumacher – the male champion at last year’s RUAS show.

Mr Shields, and son William, were delighted with their haul of plaudits which included the female and supreme Limousin championships, the inter-breed beef title and the overall champion of champions award.

The Scottish Farmer: Dutch Spotted champion was a ewe from Samantha Allen and Allen ShorttDutch Spotted champion was a ewe from Samantha Allen and Allen Shortt

Stewart Stronach of the Islavale Simmental herd, Keith, Banffshire, judged the inter-breed line-up. He said: “It has been an absolutely tremendous show, with some outstanding examples of the various beef breeds on parade.

“The overall champion is the complete package and very hard to fault. She is a modern-style heifer with great presence and superb locomotion. A very worthy winner.”

The Scottish Farmer: Cherryvalley Take A Chance On Me was Beef Shorthorn championCherryvalley Take A Chance On Me was Beef Shorthorn champion

Claiming the reserve overall award was the Simmental champion Ballinalare Farm Nikita, an in-calf heifer from Joe and Alan Wilson’s 60-cow herd at Rathfriland, Co Down.

This 15-month-old heifer is by the Scottish-bred Saltire Impressive, which has produced daughters to 26,000gns and sons to 20,000gns. Her dam Ballinalare Farm Ilyssa is by the herd’s 10,000gns stock sire Denizes Fantastic – reserve junior Stirling champion in 2016.

The Scottish Farmer: Limousin champion, inter-breed beef and supreme overall champion of champions, Dinmore Sensation exhibited by Trevor ShieldsLimousin champion, inter-breed beef and supreme overall champion of champions, Dinmore Sensation exhibited by Trevor Shields

“This is another stylish heifer that carries herself very well. I judged her here last year as a yearling, and she has developed and improved with age,” added Mr Stronach.

Securing the second reserve slot was the Beef Shorthorn champion Cherryvalley Take A Chance on Me bred at Cherryvalley Farms, Crumlin, Co Antrim, which is owned by Randox chief Peter Fitzgerald.

The Scottish Farmer: Hereford champion was the senior bull, Kinglee 1 Victorious owned by Trevor AndrewsHereford champion was the senior bull, Kinglee 1 Victorious owned by Trevor Andrews

This March 2022-born heifer is sired by Creaga Rolex, and is bred from the 2021 Balmoral champion Cherryvalley Pearl. She was paraded in calf to Creaga Larger.

The junior inter-breed champion was the Limousin heifer Aghadolgan Udiva bred by Raymond Savage, and daughter Louise Cowan, who run a 20-cow herd at Drumahoe, Co Londonderry.

The Scottish Farmer: Blue Texel champion, was Russell Millen's gimmerBlue Texel champion, was Russell Millen's gimmer

This much-admired heifer was supreme champion at the NI Young Limousin Breeders’ Club Rising Stars Calf Show, held at Ballymena in March. She is the result of an embryo purchased by Louise at a charity auction. Donated by the Alford family from the Foxhillfarm herd in Devon, her pedigree features Foxhillfarm Nadiya and the 22,000gns Gunnerfleet Lion.

The reserve junior inter-breed award winner was the Aberdeen Angus heifer Woodvale Miss Annie Z151 bred by Alwyn and Carol Armour and sons, Dromara, Co Down. This 16-month-old heifer is sired by the home-bred Woodvale Powerplay X893, and bred from Woodvale Miss Annie W856. Champion at the NI Aberdeen Angus Club’s calf show last year; her grand-dam was Balmoral inter-breed champion in 2021.

The Scottish Farmer: Champion Border Leicester was a shearling ram from James AikenChampion Border Leicester was a shearling ram from James Aiken

Limestone Suffolk claims top spot

Taking the supreme overall title in the sheep section was the Suffolk champion, Limestone J-Lo, a gimmer from Mark Priestley, Seaforde, Co Down. Mark runs a flock of 16 females and carries out an extensive ET flushing programme.

His show-stopping female is by the 33,000gns Castleisle A Kingsman. Her full brother was the breed’s male champion here in 2023 and went on to sell for 17,500gns to the Roselodge flock, while another brother from the same flush made 16,000gns at Lanark when selling to the Ballynacannon flock.

Inter-breed sheep judge Malcolm Coubrough from Lanarkshire said: “The Suffolk caught my eye straight away. She is a tremendous gimmer with size and shape, and she moves well.”

Runner-up was the Dutch Spotted breed champion, an ET ewe from Samantha Allen, and nephew Allen Shortt’s Derg flock at Strabane, Co Tyrone. Craigadoo Firefly was purchased as a gimmer for 6800gns at the Big Bang Export sale at Balmoral Park in November last year and is sired by Carlauston Extrovert which has bred sons to 28,000gns.

The Scottish Farmer: Jacob champion was James Maybin's gimmerJacob champion was James Maybin's gimmer

A Border Leicester shearling ram exhibited by James Aiken, Dromara, Co Down, was tapped out as second reserve. Knockclass Joint Venture is owned in partnership with Jack Graham’s Tullyvallen flock.

Mostragee clinches dairy championship

The Henry family from Stranocum in north Antrim clinched their first Balmoral Show Holstein and inter-breed dairy championship with the home-bred fourth calver, Mostragee Bomber Louise 3.

Sired by the Richmond FD El Bombero son, Mostragee Bomber ET PLI £335, she was bred from Mostragee Mincio Louise.

The overall champion calved in January and is producing 64 litres of milk on a three-times-a-day milking routine. She is one of 180-cows in the herd and won honourable mention at the RUAS Winter Fair in December 2022. Bred from six generations of the home-bred Louise family, she will be scored by a Holstein UK classifier in June.

The Scottish Farmer: Alfie ShawAlfie Shaw

Runner-up for the inter-breed dairy ribbons was the Jersey champion Layward Cosmo Starry Fizz exhibited by the Fleming Family from Seaforde, Co Down, who were celebrating their 50th year in the Balmoral showring.

The Jersey champion is one of 120-cows in the herd, and was purchased on-line for £7100 as an unseen heifer at the Spotlight Sale in 2020.

Sired by J-Kay Tequilla Fizz, she is bred from Elliots Action Cosmo and boasts three generations of world-renowned show winners. Her third dam is the World Dairy Expo supreme champion Huronia Centurion Veronica Ex97. She produced her third calf in January and is currently producing 35 litres on a robotic milking system.

The Scottish Farmer: Devine Brothers' Brownhill Tara landed the Charolais championshipDevine Brothers' Brownhill Tara landed the Charolais championship

Awaiting classification next month, her show career includes reserve champion at the RUAS Winter Fair in 2022 and reserve champion at Balmoral in 2023. Her August 2021-born Rivervalley Venus VIP daughter, Potterswalls VIP Cosmo, was crowned reserve breed champion at the show.

Securing the honourable mention in the inter-breed line-up was the Dairy Shorthorn champion Beechview Jazz Janelle, brought out by George and Jason Booth, Stewartstown, Co Tyrone. This in-milk heifer calved in March and is yielding 33 litres daily.

She is sired by the NI-bred Bushmills Jazz and is out of the home-bred Beechview Empire Jane VG87. Her Ex92 grand-dam produced more than 100 tonnes of milk and was twice winner of the Shorthorn Gold Cup.

The Booth family’s herd includes a small number of Dairy Shorthorn and Brown Swiss cows which are managed alongside 200 Holsteins.

The Scottish Farmer: Balinlare Farm Nikita was Simmental champion and reserve inter-breed beefBalinlare Farm Nikita was Simmental champion and reserve inter-breed beef

Macfin retains Clydesdale title

Champion Clydesdale was Macfin Highland Queen from Messrs Hanna, Ballymoney.

This yearling filly is sired by Muirton Sabre, and is out of the home-bred Macfin Crystal Gail. She was champion at the Co Londonderry Clydesdale Foal Show last December, and is a full sister to Macfin Delta Dawn – breed champion at Balmoral and the Royal Highland Show in 2023.

Judge Sammy Workman from Co Antrim, tapped out the three-year-old yeld mare, Boat Lady Crystal as the reserve champion. Shown by Agnes Jackson and Allan Craig, Coylton, Ayrshire, she is by Dillars Ollie and bred from Boat Lady Victoria.



Aberdeen Angus (Judge: David Johnstone, Banffshire). Champion – Alwyn and Carol Armour and Sons’ heifer Woodvale Miss Annie Z151; reserve – Bill and James Porter’s cow Old Glenort Kim W501.

Hereford (Judge: James Ludgate, Oxon). Champion – Trevor Andrews’ senior bull Kinglee 1 Victorious; reserve – Stephen Cherry’s heifer Ballypallady 1 Wizzbit.

Charolais (Judge: Kevin Thomas, Carmarthenshire). Champion – Devine Bros’ heifer Brownhill Tara; reserve: H and H Heron’s Falleninch Sancerre.

Simmental (Judge: Norman Robson, Ballyclare). Champion – Joe and Alan Wilson’s senior heifer Ballinalare Farm Nakita; reserve – Leslie and Chris Weatherup’s junior bull Lisglass Prince.

Limousin (Judge: Rheon James, Wales). Champion – Trevor and William Shields’ in-calf heifer Dinmore Sensation; reserve – Jim Sloan’s heifer Ballygrange Tina.

British Blonde (Judge: James Weightman, Peterlee). Champion – Rodgers Livestock’s cow Hillhead Rose; reserve – Moneyscalp Blondes junior cow Moneyscalp Shauna.

British Blue (Judge: Andrew Kay, Ayrshire). Champion – JCB Commercials’ bull Drumhilla Tik Tok; reserve – Seamus Banniff’s heifer Lueur D Hontoir.

Salers (Judge: Adam Crockett, Earlston). Champion – Lisnamaul Salers cow Lisnamaul Princess; reserve – Lisnamaul Salers bull Sidney.

Beef Shorthorn (Judge: George Somerville, Drumfries). Champion – Cherryvalley Farm’s heifer Take A Chance on Me; reserve – Cherryvalley Farm’s bull Meonside Randango

Irish Moiled (Judge: Dan Bull, Drumfriesshire). Champion – R and C Maxwell’s cow Beechmount Daisy; reserve – Messrs Edwards and McCauley’s bull Curraghnakeely Sportsman.

Commercial cattle (Judge: Tracey Jones, Powys). Champion – JCB Commercials’ heifer Dancing Queen; reserve – Cochrane family’s heifer Ginger Nut.


Jersey (Judge: Arwyn Wilson, Carmarthen). Champion – Fleming Family’s mature cow Layward Cosmo Starry Fizz; reserve – Fleming Family’s in-milk heifer Potterswalls VIP Cosmo.

Ayrshire (Judge: Arwyn Wilson). Champion – Alan Irwin’s mature cow Denamona Clever Lassie 2; reserve – Robert and Caroline McConnell’s second calver Beechmount Blink Betty 5 VG86.

Dairy Shorthorn (Judge: Arwyn Wilson). Champion – G and J Booth’s in-milk heifer Beechview Jazz Janelle.

Holstein (Judge: Wyn Jones, Carmarthenshire). Champion – Tommy and Mark Henry’s mature cow Mostragee Bomber Louise 3; reserve – Hallow Holstein’s mature cow Hallow Solomon Twizzle 2.


Badger Faced Texel (Judge: Nigel Hogan, Carlow). Champion – Russell Millen’s ewe; reserve – A and J Carson’s ewe lamb.

Beltex (Judge: Stuart Wood, Aberdeenshire). Champion: Joshua Keys gimmer; reserve: Elizabeth McAllister’s ram.

Berrichon (Judge: Carl Gwynne, Powys). Champion – Ryan McLaren’s ewe; reserve – Ryan McLaren’s ram lamb.

Bleu Du Maine (Judge: Simon Norman, Somerset). Champion: Glen Baird’s ewe; reserve –Andrew Wilson’s ewe.

Blue Texel (Judge: Hamish Currie, Carlisle). Champion – Russell Millen’s gimmer. reserve – Russell Millen’s gimmer.

Bluefaced Leicester (Judge: Robert Loughridge, Ballymoney). Champion – Ian Montgomery’s ewe lamb; reserve – Andrew George Kennedy’s gimmer.

Border Leicester (Judge: Ian Walker, Ayrshire). Champion – James Aiken’s shearling ram; reserve – Harold Dickey’s gimmer.

Charollais (Judge: David Argue, Drumg). Champion – Richard Powell’s ewe lamb; reserve – Diane Christie’s shearling ewe.

Dorset Horn and Poll (Judge: Alex Steff, Lancashire). Champion – Christian Hill’s gimmer; reserve – Christian Hill’s ewe lamb.

Dutch Spotted (Judge: Brian Davies, Pembrokeshire). Champion – Samantha Allen and Allen Shortt’s ewe; reserve – Limestone Pedigree Livestock’s shearling ewe.

Greyface (Judge: Ian Walker, Ayrshire). Champion – D and N Hamill’s ewe; reserve – D and N Hamill’s ewe.

Hampshire Down (Judge: Adrian Rundle, Cornwall). Champion – John Mercer’s ram lamb; reserve – Stirling Manson’s ewe lamb.

Jacob (Judge: Dafydd Wyn Harries, Carmarthen). – Champion: James Maybin’s shearling ewe; reserve – Alex Colhoun’s ewe.

Kerryhill (Judge: Chris Adamson, Lancashire). Champion – S and F McAllister’s gimmer; reserve – S and F McAllister’s ram lamb.

Lleyn (Judge: Roger G Wells, Ceredigion). Champion – Andrew George Kennedy’s ram; reserve – Jayne and Catherine Kennedy’s ewe.

Mules (Judge: Robert Loughridge, Ballymoney). Champion – Hugh Henry’s gimmer; reserve – Patrick Donnelly’s gimmer.

North Country Cheviot (Judge: Scott Davies, Selkirk). Champion – Alfred J Robinson’s gimmer; reserve – Castleview Flock’s ram.

Rouge de L’Ouest (Judge: Jeremy Metianu, Ashford). Champion – James Millar Houston’s gimmer; reserve – Jayne Tannahill’s ram lamb.

Suffolk (Judge: Mike Black, Fife). Champion – Mark Priestley’s gimmer; reserve: L and M Liggett’s ewe lamb.

Texel (Judge: Ioio Prys Jones, Denbighshire). Champion – Mark Priestley’s ram lamb; reserve – Sam McNeilly’s gimmer.

Valais Blacknose (Judge: David Hodge, Devon). Champion – Hannah Morrison’s gimmer; reserve: Ryan and Emma Conway’s ram lamb.

Zwartbles (Judge: Arfon Lloyd, Conwy). Champion – Arianna Bell’s gimmer; reserve – Rachel Megarrell’s ram.

Photographs by Alfie Shaw, Catherine MacGregor, Jane Steel and RUAS