This year The Shorthorn Society AGM and Judging Day was held at Brinsbury Campus, Chichester College, Pulborough by kind permission of the Farm Manager Dan Stamper. Everyone who braved the mammoth journey south was truly rewarded with superb hospitality throughout the day.
First on the Agenda was the AGM which whilst being the formal part of the day enlightens the breeders on the progress the Society is making and this time saw Neil Madeley step down after completing his two years as President. “Being President has truly been an honour and a great privilege. Thank you to all the breeders the length and breadth of the country, the society staff, especially Frank Milnes who have all made my term so enjoyable”. Neil passes on the Presidential role to the capable hands of James Robinson, fifth generation of the Strickley herd, who is a great supporter of the breed. Neil later went on to state that James has “always shown immense dedication and passion for the Dairy Shorthorn breed and hopes that this enthusiasm will help push the breed further into the limelight”. Seimon Thomas whose Drisgol herd is steeped in Dairy Shorthorn history now steps into the Vice President role.
After a delicious BBQ lunch the judging commenced with Master judge Ian Collins delivering an informative and comprehensive class in reason giving. Two cows were brought forward as demonstration cows which Ian skilfully talked through the good points of each stressing that when giving reasons a judge should always find positive qualities in an animal. Then the college students brought out six smart cows in milk; two daughters of April Day Wisconsin Red, a fifth calver that would stand top almost consistently throughout the day against her third calver counterpart, and four, second calvers by Llandovery Verbs Viscount. There was really little to pick between all six but everyone had a good look and judged them accordingly to their own priorities in what they look for in a dairy animal. Next was the reasons portion of the day which is a great chance to brush up on your own skills and to take note of other peoples styles and techniques in the judging ring. For the second year in a row Robert Crank won the Junior Member judging competition, his reason giving skills were truly outstanding for a fifteen year old and quite frankly he was arguably the best reason giver of the day. Our newly appointed President, James Robinson took the Senior title.
Finally the afternoon was topped off with the eagerly anticipated tour of the Brinsbury herd. The Brinsbury herd started in 2002 when forty Dairy Shorthorns were purchased, since then the herd has increased to 145 milking cows. The progress of the herd must largely be accredited to Dan Stamper who took on the farm manager position in 2011. Dan has changed the system from a high input one to a rotational paddock grazed low input system where the cows are producing 11,127 litres from forage per hectare which is impressive due to the high 2.73 livestock units per hectare. Dairy Shorthorns are definitely the breed for this farm as they are the driving force behind such profitability which allows other improvements and investments to take place on the farm. Each cow is producing on average 4,081 litres from forage alone.
The cattle are upstanding strong framed types with clean bone quality and excellent udders throughout. They certainly have a conformity across the herd. For me the April Day Wisconsin Red daughters stood out as excellent cows. This Red Holstein was a cross used on the pure animals that the college had in order to increase production but they have retained the vital Dairy Shorthorn traits we so desire, great longevity, fertility and good legs and feet. The daughters are now milking in their fourth or fifth lactation and look set to carry on for another four or five lactations and they all certainly shone amongst the rest of the herd. The Llandovery Verbs Viscount daughters were another progeny group that was impressive, clean boned dairy cows with great udders that looked extremely milky.
The college have also been huge supporters of RCG using most if not all the bulls currently available in the catalogue. The milking herd are currently being served to Hooton Envoy, Rodway Rueben and Winhall William. The Drisgol Madonna's Prince daughters are just starting to calve into the herd which calves on an Autumn and Spring block calving pattern, they look very promising animals that will fit perfectly into this uniformed herd. We also had the opportunity to see some of the youngstock, in calf heifers predominantly by Drisgol Madonna's Prince, Drisgol Watzon and Strickley Maximus looked extremely well grown showing lovely promise underneath. Exciting times are ahead with the lovely bunch of maiden heifers by Rodway Rueben, Rodway Prince and Nejay Ernie which are truly a credit to Amy Aylwin the full time herds woman, she certainly has taken great care and attention to detail in working with this outstanding herd of Dairy Shorthorns.
Many Thanks again go to Dan, Amy and all the Brinsbury staff for an exceptional day viewing some super Dairy Shorthorns. We can now fully appreciate the effort that you all put in to attend any shows outside your local area, it is certainly a long way to travel but well worth the journey!