The Ballyclider herd will be the featured herd at this year’s Irish Holstein Friesian Association (IHFA) open day.

Peter and Mary Ging’s herd is located just outside Portlaoise and will play host to the event on Tuesday, July 11.

The results from the national herd competition will be announced on the day, with this sponsored by Greenvale Animal Feeds; the open day is sponsored by Tirlán and FBD.

The Gings

Peter Ging has been a lifelong member of IHFA and was a founding member of the Laois Offaly club – which has long boasted a significant membership – and regularly competes in national competitions.

Peter won the national herds competition in 1997 and 2000 for the 50-80-cow or medium-sized herd section.

Peter’s contributions to the IHFA resulted in him being elected IHFA president for 2015, which was the 50th anniversary year of the IHFA.

He served as IHFA chairman previously and has regularly judged shows and herd competitions.

Ballyclider herd

The Ballyclider herd was first pedigree-registered in 1980 as the herd progressed from humble beginnings of 16 cows in the 1970s.

The herd now stands at 190 cows and the Gings rear approximately 150 calves on-farm every year.

Peter relies heavily on his family – his wife Mary and children – for support on the farm.

Donal Carey, Laurence Feeney CE, Ciara O’Mahony, and Rachel White of the IHFA; host farmer Paul and Peter Ging of the Ballyclider Herd, Richard Hamilton, President, Georgina Greenan, and Board member Leo Collins of the IHFA at the launch of the 2023 IHFA National Open Day
Image: IHFA

The Ging family featured prominently in Young Members’ Association (YMA) circles in the early 2000s as life on the farm fostered a great passion for the black and white breed, and they still take part in the summer show circuit whenever they can.

Ballyclider Darkie 31 EX94 5E won Champion cow at the 2019 Clonaslee and District Show.

She represents the seventh generation of VG/EX cows in her line and has 89,467kg of milk and 5,962kg of milk solids lifetime-yield in seven lactations.

The reputation the Ballyclider herd holds for producing quality dairy animals is widely known. Peter credits this to the strong base of repeat customers that purchase surplus calved heifers and breeding bulls annually.

The herd’s 305-day production averages were as follows: 8,841kg of milk with 3.91% fat and 3.37% protein, resulting in 345kg fat and 298kg protein for a combined 644kg of milk solids for 2022.

The Ballyclider herd is split calving with approximately 65% of animals calving in the spring and the remaining 35% in the winter.

In the current herd, 35 cows are classified EX and 121 are classified VG. The herd consists of many cows from the Chris, Una, Darkie and Cocarde families.

Breeding always focuses on good classification, feet and legs, as well as efficient milk production.