In life, the two most important things are to be born right and to marry right.

I’m not sure about the first, but I definitely got the second one right.

Although I married a girl out of the town, she loves all things country, including me.

And 50 years on, has produced three magnificent daughters and organised the breeding of an amazing herd of cows. I am very fortunate we have many shared interests. One of the things we really enjoy is our trips to Ireland.

Last week, we were fortunate to be able to attend the Holstein Friesian conference and AGM. This involved a two-day trip to north Wales looking at some marvellous herds.

Farm payments

We spent the first night with old friends, the Tates, on the Isle of Bicton, where they have restored an old manor house, for not only bed and breakfast, but also horse bed and breakfast.

The discussion over breakfast the next morning was the Dimbleby report, which the government will probably ignore, because it recommends retaining farm payments for the next five years, while the corridors of Whitehall overcome the dilemma of what’s best to do next.

We then travelled on to Wrexham and the first trip of the day was the Genus bull stud.

The first bull which really took my eye was Schumacher, but because of his Irish breeding, I will have to go back and check the conversion figures.

Most importantly, he wasn’t over big. It’s interesting that there is currently a move in the Holstein world to reduce the size of the animal, something the wife has to watch carefully, since in the past she has always tried to breed smaller cattle, but she doesn’t want them any smaller.

Brinkworth Buster, the result of 50 years of breeding.

It was good to meet up with my old college friend Richard Beard, who has just received a lifetime award for services to the cattle industry. He pointed out Rubels Red, who is the only proven bull in the stud.

Over the next few days, there seemed to be a bubbling undercurrent of distrust of genomics among many of the breeders present.

I well remember talking to one of the Willis brothers from Cornwall - 1,500 cows - when I questioned him about genomics, he stated that it was dangerous in the wrong hands.


We then moved on to the Bidlea herd - 350 cows - with a milk processing diversification established in 2019 and now processing 8,000 litres a day.

The milk diversification is 200 yards away across the road and, in true Irish fashion, they suspended a pipe over the road overnight.

We then visited the Grosvenor herd - 2,400 cows - milked three times a day through a 60-cow rotary.

I have to say, the management of this herd was absolutely top class. But I did feel sympathy for the three milkers in the parlour, with their six-hour stint three times a day.

Every 25ft throughout the building was a suspended device the size of a dinner plate

One good thing about the buildings were the large gaps between each of them, creating a cross-flow airflow. No smell of ammonia here.

Every 25ft throughout the building was a suspended device the size of a dinner plate, so that the AI man could see on his phone exactly where each cow was within two feet, so was able to serve them in the cubicles.

We then moved on to the Woodhay herd - 900 cows - with 54 rapid-exit parlour and a cellar underneath for milk recording.

All in all, an extremely enjoyable two days, although the maize up north is shoulder high climbing over the hedges, while, down here, we have knee high in July.

We finished our tour with a visit to a friend, who for the last 20 years has used bulls supplied by us, and it gave us great pleasure to see a very level herd milking off grass. More importantly, the son is continuing to source bulls from us in the same manner as his father.

Brinkworth Buster, the result of 50 years of breeding, three generations excellent, six generations EX and VG.