Balmoral judge an early pioneer of ai and canadian genetics – farmweek best apples

AND now for something fresh on farmweek’s page ‘8’ as we introduce our new sub-series … ‘wearing the judge’s badge’… it’s going to be brilliant and will hopefully – albeit in a small way – make amends for our recent ‘memories of mabel’ feature.

Oh yes, it seems that some farmweek readers were rather unimpressed with the writer’s trip down memory lane to those days gone by when the county armagh pupil mabel was the most popular girl in the class, nay school.

A couple or so weeks ago our report on a bus trip to loughry college with mabel, prompted a negative reaction in some quarters. A day or two after publication we in the MFTF high-rise office block received a telephone call from, let us just say, a ‘person in authority’!

Basically, this person stated that if the memories from the farmyard team wanted to retain their slot on farmweek’s page ‘8’, there was a need to keep the focus on our agricultural history rather than “churning out complete nonsense about bygone schooldays”!‘wearing judge’s


Following this ‘advice’ we are parking our ‘memories of mabel’ series … just until the dust settles, then she will return as we reminisce about a school sports day incident involving mabel and a wicked gander.

But that’s all being kept under wraps for now, it is not the time to ‘push the envelope’ … and the MFTF team are not ready for our ‘marching orders’ just yet.

On a more positive note we’ve been given a big green light for our other sub-series including: ‘over the sty wall’ … ‘great milkers from the past’ … ‘through the byre door’… ‘old herd book by the fireside’ and this week’s new one …. ‘wearing the judge’s badge’.

This brand-spanking new sub-series feature under the memories from the farmyard umbrella does pretty much ‘what it says on the tin’. Through our ‘wearing the judge’s badge’ features we will be winding the clock back to past agricultural shows and profiling those respected men and woman who were given the job of ‘handing out the rosettes’.‘wearing judge’s

Back then as today, it takes a special person to judge livestock at a show. Not only does such an individual need to have ‘a good eye for a beast or fowl’ but also the courage to do the job under the gaze of ring-side experts!

In the run-up to the balmoral show of 1937, our black and white friesian breeders chose mr gersham brianerd radcliffe (see picture) of the cheshire-based tarvin herd to do the judging. It would have been hard for them to get a bigger name to do the task as during 1935/36 this gentleman, affectionately known as “GB”, had served in the high office of president of the british friesian breeders’ society.

Having selected the name ‘tarvin’ for his herd (after the cheshire village where he farmed) mr radcliffe set to the task of breeding great cattle and according to the british friesian journal rapidly brought his herd to the forefront of the breed.

When friesians were just making an appearance in ulster, tarvin cattle were amongst those early beasts purchased by ‘black and white’ pioneers, including mr edward cowdy, summerisland, loughgall, county armagh, the belfast co-operative society, ballygowan, county antrim, and dr william BH dundee of ballycarry, county antrim.Tarvin herd

A progressive breeder, mr radcliffe was one the earliest cattle-breeders in the country to use AI and when the holstein controversy was getting underway he went out on a fact-finding trip to the USA and canada in 1945.

Mr radcliffe liked what he saw across the atlantic ocean and set about infusing some canadian genetics into the tarvin herd. In 1946 he purchased the canadian yearling bull stirk ‘glenafton rag apple decorator’ which was renamed tarvin (imp. ‘46) glenafton decorator. The canadian dimension to the tarvin herd improved milking volume, milk quality and type. In one year alone, mr radcliffe won 150 show prizes with his cattle including 81 ‘firsts’.

This dispersal marked a red-letter day for the breed and was attended by around 3,000 people. When he passed away at the age of 99 in 1976 it was reported that the friesian fraternity had lost ‘the grand old man of the breed’.

This news would have been received with sadness in many parts of the world given the fact that mr radcliffe was recognised as an international judge.County antrim during his lifetime he judged dairy cattle classes in america, canada and holland.

On the ‘home front’ he did likewise at the royal english, the royal highland, royal dublin and as previously stated our royal ulster show in 1937.

On that day mr radcliffe selected the belfast mental hospital committee’s famously-prefixed ‘terling ranger’ for the male championship, with james A caldwell’s scottish-bred ‘douneside benachie’ taking reserve.

In the female section the northern irish breeders had a coup when the belfast-bred cow ‘oldpark sunshine’ took the female championship ahead of another terling entry called terling total eclipse 30th exhibited by mr fergus wilson of lisburn, county antrim. The heifer classes at this 1937 balmoral event were led by entries from doctor WBH dundee of ballycarry, county antrim.

Before closing this week’s feature, we in the memories from farmyard team would like to assure farmweek readers that there’ll be no more ‘mabel nonsense’ on this page (just until the dust has settled).Tarvin herd