2015-02-20   facebook twitter rss

Walker Family Steps Up for Craven Champions Day Coup

The Walker farming family from Brennand Farm, Dunsop Bridge, stole the show on Craven Champions Day at Skipton Auction Mart when winning all but one of the main championship classes, as well as landing top price honours in some style. (Wed, Feb 18)

The supreme championship – the Walkers’ fifth at the annual highlight for commercial store cattle with future show potential - was awarded to their first prize British Blue-cross heifer and female champion shown by John Walker.

John Walker with the family’s Craven Champions Day supreme champion heifer

John Walker with the family’s Craven Champions Day supreme champion heifer

It is by the family’s prolific sire Bluegrass Cyclone, who has produced multiple show champions for the Walkers, out of a home-bred British Blue-cross cow known as ‘Baby Angel’ and owned by Mrs Margaret Walker.

Her husband Jeff proudly accepted the Jack Walker Trophy, which he himself had donated for the first time in 2014 in memory of his late father, who was a familiar and popular face around Skipton’s store cattle ring.

The title winner sold for £1,800 when finding a new home in South Yorkshire with Michael Wynne of Barnside Farm, Midhopestones, near Sheffield, who was buying on behalf of his 12-year-old daughter Ellie, a pupil at Penistone Grammar School and enthusiastic member of Penistone Young Farmers Club.

Mr Wynne, who regularly sells prime lambs and buys store cattle at Skipton, said: “Ellie picked it out herself before it even went into the ring and became supreme champion. She also bought one of the Walker’s entries at last year’s Craven Champions Day and it went on to win the reserve championship at Bakewell Fatstock Show,

“Ellie’s really keen and will be following the same route this year with her latest acquisition in the hope of picking up more accolades in the show arena. She will then breed off it and, who knows, possibly produce future show winners.”

Rob Walker with the family’s Craven Champions Day reserve supreme champion heifer and top price achiever

Rob Walker with the family’s Craven Champions Day reserve supreme champion heifer and top price achiever

However, it was the Walkers’ reserve female champion and overall reserve champion – winner of the young handlers’ show class in the hands of Rob Walker - that caused the greatest stir on the day when selling for £3,000, a recent record price for a store animal sold at Skipton.

The 10-month-old, another British Blue-cross, is among the first crop of youngsters by Cromwell Fendt, now performing well as the Walkers’ main stock bull. Both this up-and-coming sire and the late Bluegrass Cyclone were top-performing AI bulls bought by the Walkers, a path which has proved a formula for success. “We always try to acquire the best genetics,” said Mr Walker.

The buyer of the top price performer was George Rice, from Church Garth, Carlton, Yeadon. The Rice family show their cattle as an interest only, raising just a handful each year on their West Yorkshire smallholding.

They are familiar faces and leading performers with their commercial youngsters at Skipton’s Northern Limousin Extravaganza, the annual early season breed highlight held each year in May, where they have sent out several commercial champions and were overall reserve supreme champions last year, when they also became supreme champions at Kilnsey Show.

Mr Rice said they had big plans for their new acquisition on the Yorkshire’s regional show circuit this year, hopefully culminating at the Great Yorkshire. After that, the heifer will be used for breeding.

Show judge David Wilson of Harome, Helmsley, said both his principals had fantastic potential. “I picked the supreme champion over the reserve on the day because it was the more finished animal, though the reserve has excellent potential for another day,” he said.

The Walker family brought five youngsters to the fixture – three by Cyclone, two by Fendt. They were also responsible for the first prize British Blue-cross bullock and male champion, another Cyclone son, out of a cow acquired from the Garth family in Keasden. It sold for a class-topping £1,450 to Matthew Keel, of Thirsk.

Cyclone was also responsible for their third prize unhaltered heifer, sold for £1,500 to Lincolnshire buyer E Swindells, of Broughton, though it was their remaining entry, another British Blue-cross heifer and daughter of Fendt, that secured the day’s second top price of £2,000 when falling to County Durham mother and son Sheila and Robin Williamson, of Littleburn Farm, Hamsterley, Bishop Auckland.

They breed suckler cows and sheep and said they decided to travel down for the Skipton store cattle highlight after viewing photographs of some of the show entries on the picture gallery posted on the mart’s website.

The Williamsons also made a second acquisition when paying £1,600 for the second prize unhaltered heifer, a British Blue-cross from Sheila Mason’s Keasden herd in Clapham. “I’m over the moon with what we bought. We will let them run around and get to know the farm for a year, before putting them to our Limousin stock bulls,” said Mr Williamson.

The mart’s annual store cattle showcase again proved a runaway success, as it continued to grow in both popularity and stature with an unprecedented entry of show quality animals, with 22 heifers participating in the unhaltered heifer show class alone.

Every single prize winner sold in the 11 show classes achieved four figures at an overall selling average of £1,439.50 per head, compared to last year’s £1,406.81, which was itself a big improvement of the previous year.

Reserve male champion was the first prize Limousin-sired bullock from Pendle’s Mark and Elaine Hartley, and their 17-year-old daughter Izzy, of Pendle View Farm, Roughlee, It is by the well-known sire, Ronick Hawk, out of a Blue-cross cow belonging to Izzy, an A-level student at Nelson and Colne College. It sold for £1,260 to Thompson Bros in Pickering, regular buyers at the fixture, who also acquired several other prize winners, among them and again at £1,260 the first prize Charolais-sired heifer from Thor Atkinson, of Ulverston.

Sheila Mason was responsible for several other prize winners, including the first prize any breed unhaltered heifer, another British Blue-cross, which became a further acquisition at £1,290 by the Swindells family.

Also catching the eye at £1,720 was the first prize any other breed halter-led heifer, a Blonde-cross from Edward and John Parkinson, of Dunsop Bridge, which joined John Stephenson in Bordley.

Other red rosette winners, selling prices and buyers were: Unhaltered bullock, any breed – Limousin-cross from R Gray, Langbar, £1,340 to Ian Swales, Goole. Limousin-sired heifer – Turner Farms, Holmfirth, £1,300, to JL & HD Marks, Stockton-on-Tees.

Show sponsors were Huddersfield-based agricultural agent and CCM field officer Janet Sheard, agent for Massey Feeds, Glasson Fertilisers and Hurrells Seeds, Bryan Hoggarth Ltd, Midgley Motor Cars and VG Energy.

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