2017-02-20   facebooktwitterrss

Sheila the Maestro at Craven Champions Showcase

North Craven’s Sheila Mason was supreme champion with an eight-month-old British Blue-sired heifer at the Craven Champions’ double-header. The title winner also set a new centre record price for a store animal when selling for £3,200. (Tues & Wed, Feb 14 & 15)

The noted suckled calf and pedigree breeder, Sheila Mason, who runs the Keasden Head herd at the farm of the same name in Clapham, first saw her grey heifer, known as Ebony, win its show class, before progressing to first become female champion, then supreme champion when tapped out by judge Phil Sellers, of Lincoln, who is renowned nationally for his multi championship-winning show cattle.

Sheila Mason and stockman Michael Johnson with Keasden Head’s  2017 Craven Champions supreme champion heifer.

Sheila Mason and stockman Michael Johnson with Keasden Head’s 2017 Craven Champions supreme champion heifer.

“She is ideal when it comes to show potential,” said Mr Sellers of his chosen victor, who was among the first crop of calves by the home-bred Keasden Head Hercules, who is himself by Bringley Activator, bred by Graham Brindley in Market Drayton and who was acquired as a calf at foot by Mrs Mason. “He is still going strong at the age of 11,” she said.

Out of home-bred Limousin-cross-Blue cow, the supreme champion set the ringside alight before falling for the new record store price to husband and wife, John and Michelle Pendlebury, of Toddington Farm, Haigh, Wigan.

The couple bought the winner on behalf of their 13-year-old twin daughters, Charlotte and Ellie, both pupils at Standish High School, who plan to show Ebony on their local agricultural show circuit this summer in the hope of winning yet more accolades.

The two teenagers are already used to showing ponies, as their parents also run a nearby livery yard and riding school, Landlords Farm Equestrian Centre, and have themselves been successful with show horses.

Mr Pendlebury, who keeps a flock of 50 Texel ewes, said they were now starting to move back into breeding beef cattle again and already had a number of cows in-calf to Limousin and British Blue sires, with the Skipton supreme champion set to be a valuable supplement to their breeding stock in the future. “We wanted something really special to start off with,” he commented.

As well as claiming its first-ever Craven Champions title and with it the Jack Walker Trophy, presented by Dunsop Bridge’s Jeff Walker in memory of his late father, the Keasden Head herd also scooped two further red rosettes.

One, another December, 2015-born Activator daughter, landed the young handlers show class, before becoming reserve female champion and selling for £1,450. Out of a home-bred Blue-cross cow and known as Millie, she was shown by 26-year-old Becky Cowsill, girlfriend of Keasden Head stockman Michael Johnson, who describes herself as a “weekend farmer.”

Her weekday life is somewhat different. Becky is employed as a senior designer with BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness, where she is currently working on the Trident nuclear submarine replacement project.

Mrs Mason’s third red rosette was gained in the un-haltered heifer class, where she also took the second prize with Blue-cross heifers by Keasden Head Guinness, a very easing calving bull. The first prize winner, a year old, sold for £1,180, while the 10-month-old runner-up made £1,020.

The Mason family has farmed at Keasden Head, on the edge of Three Peaks, since 1952. They started breeding British Blues in 1993, with Mrs Mason taking over in her own right when her father James passed away in 2005. She currently runs a 120-strong herd, selling the majority of her livestock at Skipton.

The Walker farming family, from Brennand Farm, Dunsop Bridge, which sits high above the Hodder Valley, hold the best record of all in the Craven Champions highlight with multiple championship and reserve championship successes over the years.

They narrowly failed to land a third successive supreme championship at the latest renewal when their first prize British Blue-sired bullock first became male champion, then overall reserve. The 10-month-old steer, known as Buster, is by their highly regarded main stock bull, Cromwell Fendt, who was also responsible for the family’s 2015 and 2016 victors.

Their 2017 leading performer sold for £1,600 to Michael Wynne, of Hall Farm, Matlock in Derbyshire, who also claimed the Walkers’ previous two Craven Champions title winners.

Mr Wynne, who regularly buys store cattle and also sells prime lambs at Skipton, again purchased the reserve supreme champion, along with a further two show cattle, on behalf of his 14-year-old daughter Ellie, a pupil at Highfields School in Matlock and member of Bakewell Young Farmers Club, who will parade all three on the local show circuit this summer.

Ellie did extremely well with the Walkers’ 2016 title winner, which later the same year became champion bullock at Bakewell’s Christmas fatstock show, though she surpassed this with another of her father’s Craven Champions’ purchases last year, a British Blue-cross heifer called Honey from the Fawcett family, who farm at Fold House, Drebley, near Burnsall, which not only clinched the overall Bakewell fatstock championship, but also sold for a centre record price of £6.70 per kilo.

Back at Skipton, the Walkers – father Jeff and his sons John and Rob – also won a second show class for Blue-sired heifers with a January, 2016, daughter of Cromwell Fendt, out of the same home-bred Blue-cross cow owned by Jeff’s wife Margaret that also produced their 2015 title winner. Their latest class victor sold for £1,800

In addition, Rob Walker also picked up a second prize winner’s rosette in the young handlers show class with another 12-month-old Fendt daughter, which made £1,500.

Reserve male champion was the first prize Limousin-sired bullock from Mark and Elaine Hartley, who run the Pendle herd at Pendle View Farm, Roughlee. Home-bred by the Cogent sire, Brutus Hashtag, out of a pure Blue cow, the eight-month-old sold for £1,350.

Austwick mother and son, Janet and James Huck, of Sowerthwaite Farm, took first prize in the Limousin-sired heifer show class with a home-bred May, 2016, first crop daughter of the AI bull, Hunters Hall Gladiator. She made £1,450.

In the remaining haltered show class for any other breed entries, victory fell to Bordley’s John Stephenson with a home-bred June, 2016, Blonde-cross heifer, shown by his son, also John, which sold for £1,000.

Chris Akrigg and family, of Manor Farm Cray, the 2014 supreme champions, returned to win the un-haltered bullock show class with a home-bred May, 2016, Limousin-cross sold for £1,450.

Norfolk breeders, Henry Harvey & Son, of Waxham Hall, Waxham, who picked up six rosettes on their Craven Champions debut last year, returned to claim a further five prizes with their 36-strong consignment of Blue and Limousin-sired entries. The two leading performers were Blue-cross bullocks that both finished as runners-up in their un-haltered and haltered classes, selling at £1,550 and £1,320 respectively.

Every single prize winner sold made four figures, achieving an overall average price of £1,372 per head. “This was a great result considering the young age of many of these show potential animals and the quality on offer was a great reflection of the type of cattle available at Skipton on a regular basis,” said CCM’s livestock sales manager Ted Ogden.

In fact, the annual fixture, Skipton’s first major store cattle showcase of 2017, was declared the best on record, attracting 81 show animals, compared to 48 in 2016 when the event was first staged in its new format, with the show classes held on the Tuesday evening and the sale the following day. Both attracted packed ringsides.

Offering a total prize fund of £1,000, sponsors were Skipton NFU Mutual, Kingsway Veterinary Group, Great Yorkshire Show, Stoodley Pike Rural Products, Top Tags Animal ID, PV Dobson Massey Ferguson, Janet Sheard, agent for Massey Feeds and Glasson Fertilisers, Thornton Breakers and Newline ASP.

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