British Blue Cross Heifer is Craven Champion
20th February 2017
Sheila Mason was supreme champion with an eight-month-old British Blue-sired heifer at the Craven Champions’ double-header, the annual opening show and sale of store cattle with show potential at Skipton Auction Mart. The title winner also set a new centre record price for a store animal when selling for £3,200.
The noted suckled calf and pedigree breeder, who runs the Keasden Head Herd, 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.
"She is ideal when it comes to show potential," said Mr Sellers of his chosen victor, known as Ebony, 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. "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, narrowly failed to land a third successive supreme championship 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.
They 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 of British Blues, 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.
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.
Photos: Adrian Legge