2016 Herd Competition
This years Herd Competion was a great success with the overall winner being The Underhills Herd of Rosemary Philipson-Stow.
Red Poll Cattle Society, National Herd Competition 2016 – Report by Philip Dale
First of all I would like to say how pleased and honoured I was to be asked to judge the competition. I would also like to state my thanks to all of the 8 breeders who I visited for making me so welcome and spending the time to show me their herds. Everyone, without exception, was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the breed and in what they were doing. I have to say that I have judged a few competitions over the years but this was by far the most interesting, and in the end the most difficult decision to make.
All the cattle, without exception, were of excellent quality which represented a true reflection of the breed. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised at this as these were already winners in their own areas. The herds that I visited were all managed differently, were in differing climatic conditions and kept in different environments but the quality came through in all of them, whatever the management system employed.
However one herd stood out for me and that was the Underhills herd of Rosemary Philipson-Stow. They were an excellent even herd of cows, strong, long, rangy cows with excellent udders and the uniformity of the herd was un-paralleled. The calves were very shapely, the youngstock outstanding and the bull, Canute Darwin, of excellent type as well. Rosemary had a very quiet, relaxed presence with the cattle which complemented by plenty of excellent grazing, made the herd what it is. Everywhere else where I went I couldn’t get these cattle out of my mind. Therefore I award the Large Herds, and Overall Herd Competition, winner to the Underhills herd.
The reserve in the Large Herds was the Bowland herd of Simon Temple. This herd, managed in a completely different environment, consisted of a herd of excellent shapely cows with good udders. The calves were exceptional, the young bull, Bowland Ferdinand, I was very impressed with, It will be interested to see how he matures as he has the making of a really good sire of the future. The way the cattle perform, in this somewhat harsh environment, is a credit to Simon and his stockman. Simon is obviously very positive and knowledgeable about recording schemes and in only keeping the best heifers for himself. He markets his surplus stock mainly in local markets, which is doing an excellent advertising job for the breed in the North West. He attends many shows which also does an excellent job in promoting the breed.
The other large herds, the Ladlers herd of James Rea, and the Pochin herd of John Pochin, both had some excellent animals, with differing management systems. James’s running on conservation grazing in Hatfield Forest, and the Pochin herd on beautiful park land. These two management systems, combined with differing outlets for the steers, made for a fascinating comparison, both having merits. However as I said earlier I couldn’t get Rosemary’s cattle out of my mind.
In the Small Herds category I found the competition even harder as all four herds comprised of very good quality cattle, managed on completely differing systems but all having their attributes. Craig Smith’s St Mary’s herd, fairly new to the breed and with the future in mind, selling to local retailers and looking to expand, breeding very good animals and very positive about the breed, Terry & Helen Mancey’s Morton herd, grazing land on the edge of the Peak District, and Trentham Gardens with some first class cattle doing a very good job. They also do a good promotional job for the breed by showing locally. Rebecca Charley’s Ruscombe herd, comprised of good strong cows with first class udders, selling the beef locally in boxes and being really enthusiastic about the breed. However my winning herd for the Small Herds is the Hinwick herd of Virginia & Richard Dawes. This herd comprised of large big framed cows, once more with good udders, and suckling excellent calves. The herd were grazing on first class pasture. There were some excellent steers ready for slaughter, they also carry out some showing which assists in the promotion of the breed. These things combined just about gave them the nod over the second placed Ruscombe herd.
As I have already stated it was an honour to judge the competition and thank you to the Society for asking me. The Society offered to pay my expenses however Mr. Paul Rackham has kindly agreed to sponsor my expenses so thank you to him as well. As this report has been a bit rushed I will write a full report which I understand will be published in the next Newsletter.