The cream of the country‘s dairy ‘queens‘ from the top herds will compete for the most prestigious annual dairy award in Ireland and Britain when they parade the judging ring at the €10,000 Diageo Baileys All Ireland Dairy Cow Championship at Virginia Show tomorrow.

Challenged with the task of deciding the 35th Diageo Bailey Champion Cow is David Hodgson, who farms 350ac just outside Carlisle, where his Wormanby Herd consists of 190 milking cows with an average yield of 11,000kg.

His herd was judged Holstein UK Premier Herd in 2015 and has been a Master Breeder Herd since 2009, while David has been on the Holstein UK National Judging Panel for the last 15 years.

This will be his third time judging in this country and he is a former judge of the UK National Herd Competition Final, the ABAB Calf Show, the South West Dairy Show and the Celtic Showcase.

Organisers are coy about releasing the identity of the lineout of cows for tomorrow‘s 2018 Dairy Championship which is being secretly guarded until the contesting ‘queens‘ of the country‘s dairyland arrive in the judging ring tomorrow afternoon.

However, it is confirmed that winner of the coveted award in 2017, Hilltara Lanthority Echo 2 from the herd of Sam McCormick, Bangor, Co Down, will not be defending her title. It is understood that there is no entry from the herd this year, but the North is nevertheless expected to be in contention to retain the award.

Up to 25 contestants are expected to lineout for the judging, representing a “who‘s who” of the top dairy cows in the country. The spread of entrants goes from Wexford to Donegal, and Kerry to Louth, with a strong entry from Munster and including more than one contestant from at least two counties.

In addition to the overall award, the final judging of which is expected to be watched by around 15,000 people, cash prizes will also be awarded for the cow with the Highest Protein Content, Best EBI, Best Exhibitor-Bred Cow, Best Junior Cow and for the Best-Heifer-in-Milk.