Northern Ireland Club trip to the northwest of England
This year, the Northern Ireland Beef Shorthorn Club members and friends travelled to the northwest of England for the annual herds’ trip. With a very early start the club travelled across to Holyhead and headed for the first herd of the day in Lancashire.
Andrew Thomson of the Pikelow herd welcomed us to his farm, where we had magnificent views and a broad range of cattle to see. Andrew told us of how his early Beef Shorthorn purchases, which were very docile and maternal in nature, converted his father into the Beef Shorthorn breed, leaving the Angus breed in the background.
Andrew discussed how he prefers to use AI to get selective breeding within his herd and to achieve various characteristics well known within the breed. We had a lovely lunch with Andrew’s family and moved on down the road to the Valentine herd.
John Whalley is well used to the Shorthorn breed, starting off by milking Dairy Shorthorns back in the day and moving to the Beef Shorthorn side in 1996. After a good walk round his herd and with many questions answered, the rain unfortunately caught up with us and it was a quick dash back to the bus for cover.
The final herd visit of the day was to the Catterall herd, owned by the Richardson family. Tom showed us around his herd, which included some Irish bulls, and we learned how his Beef Shorthorn system works particularly well for him, as his family all work outside the farm as well. On the visit we met Tom’s grandfather who, up until recently, was still halter training cows at the grand age of 95. That says a lot about the breed and their ease of handling and docile nature.
The day of herd visits finished off with not only seeing the Catterall herd but tasting them also, the burgers were delicious and was a welcome treat!
Day two began with a visit to Stuart Currie’s Beautry herd. Stuart and his father Duncan showed us around their farm’s diversification project which started in 1991. The club members were fascinated with the equine therapy suite and tour of the vet practice, including the operating table and padded area for horses (Fred checked out this area). Thankfully the swimsuits were left behind at the hotel so we couldn’t have a swim in the hydrotherapy pool. Impressively all types of equine care can be treated under the one roof and the diversification project has worked well for the farm.
The tour proceeded round Stuart’s rather friendly herd of Beef Shorthorns, which are well suited to his land and we were once again treated to lunch before heading to visit the James Herriot Museum. A quick visit to the home of the Yorkshire Vet and we were on our way to the Sowerbyparks’ herd.
Whilst viewing his recent show team , Graham Hunt told us how he started his herd from scratch and has built it up in recent years. However, his interest in Beef Shorthorn started whilst his father was the cattle manager at Gainsford. Graham has a keen interest in varying bloodlines and an extensive knowledge of his cattle families. His knowledge was certainly put to the test with numerous questions on the breeding histories within his herd. Despite the typical British summer weather, the club had another successful trip and got to see some excellent breeding and bloodlines and learn more about other herds and how they see the future of the breed going.
The Northern Ireland Beef Shorthorn Club wish to thank all of the herds for their kindness and welcoming us to their farms - and we wish them every success in their Beef Shorthorn future.