Nation Valley News
ORMOND — A century of dedication to Ayrshire cattle was celebrated at a local farm steeped in the history of the red-and-white dairy breed, July 23.
Approximately 60 people turned out for the Grenville Dundas Stormont Ayrshire Club’s annual picnic that also celebrated the organization’s 100th anniversary. Local club president Ian Dingwall was joined by his respective provincial and national counterparts, Brian Mitchel of Ayrshire Ontario and Francois Beaudry of Ayrshire, in greeting visitors gathered under a big tent at Ayrporte Farm.
The same farm, owned by the Porteous family, hosted the club’s 60th anniversary in 1976, noted club treasurer Bruce Garlough, among several individuals on hand who had also attended that milestone 40 years ago.
Remarkably, Ayrporte Farm was an accredited Ayrshire producer two decades before the 1916 founding of the local club and marks its 120th anniversary with the breed this year. Now owned by Tracy and Ian Porteous — great-grandson of the founder, Duncan Porteous — the farm has also been in the same family for 130 years as of 2016.
Duncan Porteous is cited as a senior pioneer in the local development of the breed, in the club’s 60th anniversary commemorative booklet.
While the Porteouses have carried on with the registered breed as part of their milking herd of 45, they’ve also added Holsteins (last year) and Jerseys (nine years ago) for a three-way-split.
“A good cow is a good cow,” Ian Porteous said pragmatically.
“That’s right,” agreed Garlough, adding, “There can be more variation within a breed than between breeds.”
Garlough’s own family milked Ayrshires for 70 years outside Williamsburg, at one time helping to supply fresh milk to the throngs travellers seeking treatment from the village’s famed Dr. Locke in the 1930s. He recounted that his grandfather switched the Garough herd over to Ayrshires in the late 1920s after seeing the extra money fetched for Ayreshire millk, he said.
Serving as treasurer since 1984, Garlough was presented with a new satchel in appreciation for his years of service.
Finer-featured than the larger and ubiquitous Holstein, the Ayrshire cow is renowned for its hardiness and higher-butterfat milk, which adds to its value. The breed sports a red and white coat, reminiscent of the Holstein’s generally black and white pattern (although some Holsteins can be red and white as well.)
The club’s immediate past president, Cynthia Daoust, wouldn’t hazard a guess on the actual number of Ayrshire breeders left in Grenville Dundas Stormont, but she emphasized there’s a growing trend of Holstein breeders incorporating some Ayrshires into their herds. “Don’t assume they’re red-and-white Holsteins,” she said of those operators.
In other words, there will always be a place for the Ayrshire in a dairy world dominated by fewer and increasingly larger herds that are predominantly Holstein.
And there’s a quirky story behind the name of the Grenville-Dundas Ayrshire Breeders Club. It was originally know as the Dundas-Grenville Ayrshire Breeders Club, until a 1940s printing error on a sale programme swapped the county order. The switcheroo stuck. Stormont was amalgamated into the group later, as the number of local dairy farmers has declined across the board.