ARNCLIFFE FARMS, INGLEBY CROSS, NORTHALLERTON, YORKS, DL6 3PA
A beautiful Autumn day in October with warm sunshine and a cloudless sky, glorious scenery set against the North York moorland, and an excellent herd of South Devon cattle – what more could we ask for! The event attracted members and guests from across the country – 15 counties were represented, from the far west of Cornwall to East Sussex and Essex, and up through the country into Scotland.
The Bell family (Sir John, Lady Venetia, and son Jack)’s Arncliffe herd are this year’s winners of the Herd Competition, and it is clear to see how they have achieved this success. Arncliffe Farms is a mixed farm running 100 pedigree South Devon cows, 450 pure Lleyn ewes and arable, and the herd has been established since 2001.
A measure of their success comes from a careful management programme that focusses on calving at two years of age; tight selection of breeding cattle and strict cull criteria; regularly weighing and monitoring; scanning for beef traits; and low maintenance. Half the heifer calves are retained to calve at two years and are kept separate from the main herd until they have had their second calf. Selection criteria includes a minimum 450 kg weight at first service; and the herd achieves a ten week calving pattern.
The Bells say, “The South Devon cow ticks all the boxes here. It is milky, easy to handle, thrives on grass in summer, and the poorer end of the silage and straw with liquid feed in winter. This leaves the best quality fodder for the youngstock.”
First calvers with shapely well-grown calves at foot looked strong and uniform; and older groups of cows that had calved at two showed good manageable mature growth. A particularly strong group of yearling heifers attracted much admiration and were taken as proof (if any more were needed) of the successful management and use of bloodlines in the herd.
Current stock bulls are AI Arncliffe Lawrence, Lumbylaw Majestic 7, ET Z Langham’s Kubla 28, and Z Welland Valley Majestic 5.
The afternoon ended with seeing a group of five young breeding bulls – and an offer of sale – and a walk through the stock bulls grazing together in one field. A lavish tea was provided; and thanks and congratulations conveyed to the Bell family by President and Judge Mark Thomas, Judges Colin Edwards and Julian White, and Chairman Bob Bostelmann, before visitors dispersed to the corners of the country.