Newsletter September 2023
As yet another challenging season draws to a close, we can only hope for an open Autumn. All branches of agriculture face problems arising from climate change and rocketing input costs.
Farmers are the first in the chain to feel the pain, and although we can but wonder at the exorbitant prices commanded by top breeders able to exploit their genetics, and pay tribute to the dedication and skills required, farmers with grass-based systems probably have greater flexibility than those with AYR housing, with the associated higher costs. Our cows have been bred for just such a purpose and we need to exploit the UK’s great asset, GRASS. (see AHDB recommendation re deferred grazing!)
The well proven fertility and lifespan advantages of British Friesians bring cost benefits. Sufficient replacements without the need for sexed semen, less serves per cow and, owing to vastly superior conformation, valuable pure-bred male calves. The Regenerative movement is taking hold, as up and down the country Farmers adopt ways to ‘weather-proof’ their soils. Increasing rotational or mob grazing will also increase carbon capture.
Herd Visit Walwyn Castle, Haverfordwest – 28th June
Club Members were able to see a wonderful example of changing practices, on the recent visit to the Rees family’s Walwyn Herd. Maximising the area’s reputation for grass in abundance, they were exploiting this with herbal leys for their Spring calving herd. Many congratulations to Andrew and his team. A stimulating visit with many innovations. Of particular interest was the way they were managing their youngstock, running them all together in a rotational grazing system.
It was a great opportunity to meet up with Club members, old and new. Looking back over the years, Members have travelled far and wide for the love of British Friesians. To Scotland, Northern Ireland, across to Suffolk, south to Dorset and now the far west of Wales and many places in between! Also, to Eire and two trips to Holland. Very much enjoyed and no tales told of excursions in Amsterdam! A party from Holland has also visited us in the UK and we are due to host a group of our counterparts from Ireland in October.
HUK Dairy Day - September 13th at Telford
An important date in the calendar for Dairy Farmers is the now well- established HUK Dairy Day. Members of the BF Club’s Committee will be at the event on our stand just inside the Breed Village. We look forward to seeing you on the day.
The many reasons why the Club holds its National Show at Carlisle in the Spring are buried in the past but the ‘politics’ have moved on and we need to have a presence at what is, after all, our Breed Society, too. It is also a fact that many of our members farm in western areas where TB restrictions exist and therefore cannot show, hence the support up north!
If not already members, we would encourage people to join their local HUK Club and even if your young feel that they cannot join in the showing classes at HYB, they will learn skills and have much fun. Good practice for taking their British Friesians to the ABAB!
October 6th-8th: All Breeds All Britain Calf Show
NAEC Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.
Schedule and Entry Forms are now out for All Breeds All Britain Calf Show and are posted on the Facebook Group page – a little misleading to refer to ‘Coloured Breed’ on the Entry Form, but it was to distinguish the two black and white breeds. It would be great to have some new exhibitors to support the show alongside those who show regularly. Any queries, please get in touch with Adam Lawson on 07815 055476 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the Real World.
It is a matter of principle that Farmers should be the deciders as to how to breed their animals, not the geneticists, as was announced all those years ago (RASE, Stoneleigh circa 2002), and due to the changing circumstances already mentioned, never has this been so important. For breeders of pedigree cattle this will be through the Breed Societies.
HUK must surely be the most comprehensive Breed Society in the world, representing all black and whites from the very top-yielding, intensively managed cattle to those suited to low-input grass-based systems.
We must not lose sight of the importance of these separate breeds with their own specific data and their contribution to the genetics of the future as inbreeding % increases, driven by the influence of Index breeding over the years.
And yes, we do have valuable data provided by AHDB Breeding, but it is clear that the way the Index system has been designed to fast forward genetic gain, has also led to the ever-increasing inbreeding % in the Holstein. We see this trend in our British Friesians with the overuse of top Indexing animals and although our female population is much lower at about 3%, we know that we need to act now.
Therefore, it is our Breeders who are leading the move to reintroduce bloodlines lost over the years. Sales of British Friesian semen are very buoyant, as are exports, something our Breeders can be proud of. However, we need to provide the next outcross sires. It is obvious that a wider selection is needed, especially for those who have bred those currently available. We recognise that PLIs will not look attractive for these outcross bulls due to constant base changes over the years and the use of Dutch and Irish- proven bulls. However, we urge people who are prepared to have a go, to research the ancestry through the HUK website.
AHDB Inbreeding Checker
If in doubt, we would urge the use of the AHDB system available through your Herd Genetic Report. It has the advantage of being entirely independent. Current available bulls are already in the system and if you are thinking of using one of your own bulls you can request that it be included. Watch out for the Breeding Advice Sessions which AHDB run from time to time.
British Friesian Sale H&H
The second annual sale took place at Carlisle on July 26th, and included the dispersal of the Milkcroft pedigree herd owned by the Miller family from Cleveland who are retiring. Topping the Milkroft dispersal was Milkroft Peaceful 178 who sold for 1,750gns and numerous animals sold for 1,700gns.
Probably the best group of heifers to ever sell from the Lismulligan herd was consigned by the Lawson family who farm in Fife. This tidy group of bulling and maiden heifers averaged almost £983 and topped at 1,800gns for Lismulligan Priscilla 67 whose grand dam was the two-time UK Dairy Expo Grand Champion Lismulligan Priscilla 41. Trade topped at 1,920gns for a fresh heifer with the average for the recently calved milkers coming to £1711.
The overall top price went to Nerewater Daisy 16, a heifer which sold for 1,920gns and was sired by Nerewater Reliant and bred from two generations of EX94 classified dams. The Winnoch herd sold a very milky group of recently calved heifers to average over £1700 topping at 1,750gns for Winnoch Dillette 56 who was sired by Aintree Penrod.
Club Facebook Group
Do use the direct link from the Club website. We love to see photos of your herd / cows and follow the discussions they generate. For Sale/Wanted
UKSS ON FARM AND ON STUD SEMEN COLLECTION SERVICE.
The team at UK Sires are justly proud of the service that we offer right across the whole of England, Scotland and Wales for semen collection, storage, distribution and help and advice on semen sales.
The bulls that you have chosen to work with your herds, whether home bred or purchased, you have selected with great care and no little cost. You chose them because of what they bring to your herd, the genetics, the pedigree and the type characteristics you want to take the herd to the next step. How can you protect this valuable asset, your insurance?
• On farm semen collection is straightforward and great value for money. • To learn more about this service, just pick up the phone and call Liz on 01803 863560 • Liz will talk you through the process, the costs and tell you about the contractors in your area. • If you want to know about prospects for sale of the semen from your bull, talk to Maddie from our sales team as Head of Bull Procurement on 07957 720767 • If you and / or Maddie think that there might be an export market for the semen – talk to Rob, who has over 30 years of experience on export sales on 07980 894660 • For export, there are obviously more health tests and requirements to achieve the potential of valuable sales overseas. • Rob and Hannah are constantly active in the export sales department and always looking for new bulls to come to stud. Talk to Maddie or to Rob about this.
We have a team of semen collection contractors covering the whole country as well as many veterinary practices. We have a busy autumn ahead of us and so please do call us soon so that we can talk you through the possibilities for your bull or bulls. Not only is it a great insurance policy, it can also open the doors to valuable off-farm income. UK Sires, working on your behalf as an independent proactive partner. Call today!
Rob Wills (Director) email@example.com Maddie Clarke (Bull Procurement and Sales) firstname.lastname@example.org www.uksires.co.uk