The new year has become associated with the Conference season, both the Oxford and Real Oxfords, as well as Semex, followed by the British Cattle Breeders Conference (BCBC). The latter, based in Cambridge, was established by Sir John Hammond in 1946 to bring farming and science together. Eventually, the venue for the Conference moved to the west of the UK where livestock farming was more prevalent.

Whilst the presentations on Nutrition were particularly impressive, and the Beef sessions were well attended, there was a noticeable reversal of support from earlier years when the focus of the Conference was definitely far more on our Dairy industry. Unfortunately, there was but one Dairy Breed Society (HUK) represented, and they were perhaps not as well sited as they should have been. Also, whilst AHDB were very much in evidence, dairy farmers were far less visible. We also heard yet more from cross breeders and foreign genetics.

Certainly, from the early days of the ADC, when Holsteins and Friesians were compared on the same base for PIN (before the separate Breed Codes), British Friesians were hugely disadvantaged. Holsteins were then, in turn, financially disadvantaged under ITEM with the emphasis on Angularity, and consequent loss of Fertility and Male Calf Value. The construction of Index for our Native Breeds has effectively marginalised them and the Breed Societies are rightly very angry that their Breeds should be so negatively represented.

However, we are pleased to see that DEFRA have recognised the importance of a National Gene Bank for livestock and have commissioned a task force. Securing these valuable genes for the future is vital for our Native Breeds.

Renowned as the Stockyard of the World, it was farmers who established the breeds native to the UK in response to the market and prevailing conditions. It is gratifying to know that it is the breeders of British Friesian cattle who are still contributing to exports around the world.

It is farmers, and not geneticists, who need to be in control of their breeding decisions in order to support a financially viable farm. We are facing the challenge of climate change and never has it been so important that we breed a cow to suit each farm’s unique conditions. We need unbiased, real-time data upon which to base those decisions, which is why HUK’s Type Evaluation is such a valuable resource.

Despite the current emphasis on speeding up genetic gain and breeding from younger and younger cows, farmers know that they need data that can identify cows that will not only produce, but last, and therefore contribute to carbon reduction. Despite repeated requests, AHDB have failed to produce the cost of the down-calving heifer. Could this imply that, economically speaking, the current trend for shorter herd life is a busted flush? Another unintended consequence of this increased generational turnover is the increasingly rapid rise in inbreeding % for mainstream black and white cattle. This could prove a dangerous handle on which to hang the validation of gene editing, thereby giving the AI companies complete control over our industry through patenting.

At our request, HUK now publish the inbreeding % for all males, as well as females for British Friesian. We understand that our pedigree females average about 3.25%, whereas US and Canadian sires are far more seriously challenged, as research on the American CDCB (Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding) confirms. We, in this country, need to keep a weather eye on inbreeding, as many of the major Supermarkets are, having recently instigated a 10% inbreeding threshold. We should not forget that the FAO set a standard of 6.25%.

Now that the new sires coming through are all genomically tested, what has happened to AHDB’s responsibility to publish the inbreeding % for males?

Learn Your Breed’s History!

Please do read the History of the Breed, go to

March 15th at 7pm : BFBC AGM & Club Dinner

The Bidders Room, The Auctioneer, Rosehill Industrial Estate, Carlisle, CA1 2RW

March 15th - 16th : Borderway UK Dairy Expo And National British Friesian Show

Borderway Exhibition Centre, Carlisle

10th April : Harrison and Hetherington Carlisle Spring Bull Sale Pedigree Holstein & British Friesian bulls on behalf of Border & Lakeland Holstein Club.

HUK’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Congratulations to Mary Mead who has been awarded HUK’s Lifetime Achievement Award which recognises at least 20 years of dedication and service to the Holstein and/or British Friesian breeds. The Award is presented annually to an individual who has made a remarkable contribution to the Society and provided outstanding service to the breed.


June 19th/20th Herd Visit June 19th to Derbyshire

June 19th Bradash, Stewart Archer, Hall Farm, Yew Tree Lane, Bradley, Ashbourne, DE6 1PG.

June 20th (Morning only) Deangate, John Robotham, Deanery Farm, Rangemore, Burton-on Trent, DE13 9RG.

We are also planning to hold a Dinner on the evening of the 19th June at the Royal Oak, Hanging Bridge, Mayfield, Ashbourne, DE6 2BN. Tel: 01335 300090 Email:
Website: near Ashbourne in Derbyshire.

Please contact Club Chairman, Patrick Davies on 01244 335057 or email if you wish to attend

There will be a Reminder in the April Newsletter, but early booking for Accommodation is always advised.

Accommodation List

The Travel Lodge, Ashbourne 0871 9846362

The Royal Oak, Mayfield 01335 300090

The George and Dragon, Ashbourne 01335 343199

Derby Micklover, Best Western 03330 035442

The Bentley Brook, Fenny Bentley 01335 350278

The Farmhouse, Mackworth 01332 824324

Premier Inn, Mundy Arms, Mackworth 0333 7774639

There are also lots of Airbnbs very close by.

The Micklover and Mackworth hotels are halfway between the Bradash herd and the Deangate herd.