The Senterprise pedigree Holstein Friesian dairy herd of Mark Houseman won its first Craven Dairy Auction championship at the opening June show and sale at Skipton Auction Mart. (Mon, June 4)
Mark Houseman, left, is pictured with his inaugural Craven Dairy Auction champion, joined by judge and buyer Wick Williams.
Mr Houseman, who trades as Church Farm Enterprises at Burton Top Farm, Burton Leonard, secured the title with his first prize newly calven home-bred heifer, which had calved 16 days prior to the show and was giving a seven-day average of 35 litres.
Church Farm Enterprises is currently milking 305 dairy cattle at an annual average of 10,000-plus litres per cow. All its milk goes to Payne’s Dairies in nearby Boroughbridge.
Their inaugural Skipton victor sold for £2,320, top price on show by some margin, to judge Wick Williams, of Nantwich, Cheshire, who also paid £1,910 for the reserve champion, the second prize newly calven heifer from Alan Throup, of Silsden Moor.
The third prize newly calven heifer from J Wellock, of Oakworth, sold for £1,800 to Frank Wrathall, of Gisburn, while a consignment of in-calf Dairy Shorthorn-cross-British Friesian heifers from Calderdale’s John Hitchen, of Ludendenfoot, sold to a high of £1,550 at an average of £1,370.
A second consignment of 16 to 18-month maiden heifers from Robert Metcalfe, of Brearton, Harrogate, peaked at £1,050, achieving an average of £925.
The end of an era in dairy farming. Members of the Lambert family are pictured at Skipton with two of their final consignment. Standing left are Kathy and Robert Lambert, with daughter Jody and her boyfriend Joe Parsons kneeling. On the right are daughter Gina Hodgson, her husband Andy and children Lauren and Ryan.It was a day of mixed emotions for Robert Lambert and family, of Mile House Farm, Kettlewell, who the previous evening had milked for the last time after over 50 years as dairy farmers and were selling their final consignment of 17 mid-lactation cows and heifers at Skipton.
Four generations of the family were present to mark the end of an era – grandma Betty Lambert, who is still a partner in the farm at the age of 84, Robert, who is chairman of Kilnsey Show, his wife Kathy, Kilnsey Show secretary, their daughters Gina Hodgson and Jody Lambert, and grandchildren, Lauren, 13, and ten-year Ryan Hodgson.
Their entries sold to a high of £1,730 for a heifer bought by D L Leeming, of Winksley, Ripon, while the Lamberts were also responsible for the first prize cow, a second calver giving 23 litres and by a dairy bull bred locally by Brian Moorhouse in Bell Busk. It fell at £1,380 to Ian Lishman, of Castley, Otley.
Dairy farming has been in the Lambert family for several generations. Robert’s grandfather Alec, along with his parents, James and Betty Lambert, and his father’s brother, also Alec, used to farm in Bainbridge, where they made regular trips with newly calven heifers by train from Hellifield to the cow sheds in Liverpool to sell milk direct to homes on Merseyside from the back of a cart, their income supplemented by a natural by-product for gardens!
“They used to think nothing of walking 50 cows from Bainbridge to Hellifield. It was a big family and half the kids spent six months in Liverpool and the other half six months on the farm, before swapping round,” explained Robert.
The family moved to Mile House in 1957 and Robert well remembers running back from school as a youngster to help out with the milking on the old unit system, later taking over in his own right and developing his commercial dairy herd, selling milk through David Oversby at Dales Dairies in Grassington.
Robert reckoned that on average he had bred some 30 dairy heifers a year over the past 40 years, along with a similar number of bull calves.
He commented that low milk prices and the fact that 50 to 60-strong dairy herds were no longer viable on high farms were among the reasons he had decided to call it a day on dairy farming. However, he is retaining some of his favourite “girls” on the family’s 500-hectare hill and moor farm.
Robert said: “I certainly won’t be idle! I will still be showing newly calven heifers at Skipton and have some nice black and white youngsters coming along, as well as Limousin-cross suckler calves and a 700-strong flock of Swaledale sheep.”
With 53 dairy cattle forward for the early June auction, newly calven heifers averaged £1,646 and newly calven cows £1,100. The main BOCM Pauls-sponsored Craven Dairy Auction takes place on Monday, June 25.
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