Major changes have been announced to the NMR/RABDF Gold Cup, the UK dairy industry’s flagship award, to ensure herds across the whole range of management systems can compete in this annual competition on an equal footing. This is the first major overhaul in the almost 100 years of the popular contest.
For 2017, joint organisers the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) and National Milk Records (NMR) have broadened the routes to entry to include the wider range of dairy units now more typical in today’s UK dairy farming sector.
While the traditional entry route focusing on milk production, somatic cell count and genetic merit data from official milk records remains, the Spring Calving Index that also appears on the herd’s milk records will be considered in herds where applicable. In addition, herds can be nominated through regional and national discussion groups and specialised grazing groups. While official milk recording will not be a prerequisite in these nominated herds, judges will expect to see recording protocols in place.
Herds that qualify or are nominated for entry will be invited to complete an online application form asking for background on the dairy business including production, management and financial details, environmental schemes and future plans. These will be reviewed by a judging panel which includes producers with expertise in a range of dairy systems, as well as representatives from banking, education and consultancy. A shortlist of finalists will be drawn up to go on to the next round, involving a farm inspection in September by three of the Gold Cup judges.
Commenting on the changes, Mike King from RABDF says: “The award has been the most coveted in dairy farming since its beginnings in 1920 and these latest changes will ensure it remains the most prestigious accolade possible for a dairy business. We will continue to review the criteria for entry and judging to make sure it best reflects the UK dairy industry and showcases the top herds as examples of good management. These dairy businesses have always been, and will continue to be, an inspiration to other producers.”
NMR director Jonathan Davies adds: “The Gold Cup remit is to highlight producers who are achieving good performance within their farm parameters and under their particular management system, and who have commitment to the industry with a clear strategy for the future that maximises their skills and farm resources.
“These latest changes will ensure that more extensive grass and forage-based businesses can compete alongside the housed and higher input herds. But we will remain focused on herds, whatever their system, that demonstrate high standards in the parameters, which include herd health and fertility.”
2015 Gold Cup Winner Neil Baker says: “It is positive to see the Gold Cup acknowledging the changing industry and recognising the wide range of dairy farming systems in use. It’s vital to keep the competition fresh and relevant, and important to have a national award recognising best practice and success in our industry.”
While criteria for award of The Gold Cup and the runner-up NMR Silver Salver are changing, other awards associated with The Gold Cup competition, namely the Chris May Memorial Salver for the highest average Lifetime Daily Yield, the Lilyhill Cup for the highest placed Jersey herd in the competition and the Murchland Trophy for the highest placed Ayrshire herd, will continue as before.
Qualifying and nominated herds will be invited to enter the 2017 Gold Cup by the end of April. Entries must be received by 26 June 2017, and those short-listed, typically six herds, will be notified by the end of July. Judging of the finalists will take place during September 2017.
The NMR/RABDF Gold Cup and the NMR Silver Salver awarded to the runner up will be presented on Wednesday 7 February 2018 at Dairy-Tech, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.