Show cows can be just as relevant in a commercial setting as in the ring, according to Cumbrian farmer David Wright.
“With the right balance of strength and power, you can breed a show cow that can cope commercially, but you’ve got to use the top bulls – investment in semen is not much, relatively speaking,” he said.
Mr Wright farms in partnership with his parents at Berry Holme Farm, home to a herd of 120 Holsteins and the renowned Berryholme prefix.
Living by the belief that it’s the bad cows that cause you problems, Mr Wright’s simple aim is to milk good cows. This approach has resulted in 27 EX, 61 VG and 21 GP cows, including two National Holstein Champions: Holmland Storm Flo and Berryholme Shottle Flo.
“To me these cows are not magical, just practical. Berryholme Shottle Flo is reared with the rest of the herd in cubicles and had good functional type. We need these cows to get recognised for their true commercial value and this will help promote the breed,” he said.
“We’re a small farm, so we can’t compete on milk, but it’s never been a more exciting time to be breeding Holsteins. There’s a wealth of information to help breed the Holstein to suit what you want.”
Mr Wright believes more should be done to showcase UK cattle in the world stage, and emphasises the need to market cattle.
“Through marketing our herd, we have managed to re-invest, with the aim to undertake a new project every year. In 2010 we revamped the milker’s shed, creating extra space, improved cubicle beds and rubber tiles at the feed face.”
As a result foot problems have been virtually eliminated and cows are expressing stronger heats.