This article was featured in our Spring 2020 issue and is written by Julie Ashton.
Excellent-97 is an achievement that few cows achieve in their lifetime. And for the first time in any dairy breed in any country, a dam and daughter duo have both scored EX-97, and in the dairy shorthorn breed nonetheless. In early March 2020, classifiers visited Churchroyd Dairy Shorthorns in West Yorkshire, UK, and made Churchroyd Heather 50th EX-97 in her 8th lactation.
Tracing her maternal lineage back to an original calf from the herd of Richard and Mary Collins of Church Farm, Heather 50th is just the latest example of “how consistent this family is to breed from,showing the value of depth in a pedigree,”commented Ian Collins. Richard and Mary Collins graded their herd up to Registered Dairy Shorthorns in 1976. Today, Mary and her son Ian are in partnership together and milk 140 Shorthorns and Holsteins and market their milk to Dickensons at Longley Farm. Ian’s children, Harry (15)and Molly (12), are both very keen and help on the farm and have an interest in the show aspect of the business. Heifers are raised off the farm by Ian’s sister Wendy and her husband James. Wendy also prepares all the animals for the shows and Wendy and Ian’s other sister, Jill, does the bookkeeping.
Heather 50th has produced 63,383kgM 4.25%F and 3.34%P lifetime four months into her 8th lactation. Sired by Churchroyd Victor, she earned a VG-85 classification as a 2-year-old, then jumped from VG-89 to EX-94 in her fourth lactation. Heather 50th was Champion at Dairy Day and South West Dairy Show in 2015 and won best senior cow in the Yorkshire Milk Records competition in early 2020. Her son,Hercules EX-90 has semen available and Pure Class, a Churchroyd Wildcard EX-95 son, just entered stud.
Heather 50th’s dam is Churchroyd Heather 29th, who also scored EX-97 in her 8th lactation in November 2015. In those 8 lactations, she had a lifetime of 84,115kg 3088F 2622P. Like Heather 50th,Heather 29th has several accolades to her name including Champion at Cheshire in 2008, Great Yorkshire in 2010 and HM at Livestock Event in 2012. She also has a son in stud, Prince H sired by Nejay Prince 4.
The “Heather” family has several other animals that have proven successful for the Collins family. In this same classification round, Heather 107 received a max score as a heifer at VG-89. Her dam is Heather 71st-ET EX-91 then Heather 17 EX-91. Heather 24th is EX-95 in 6 lactations (dam: Heather 17)and her daughter, Heather 43rd, is EX-94 in 7 lactations.
While this maternal line certainly has helped propel the Collins family in the spotlight, there are many additional animals in the herd that have carved out their own highlight reel. Churchroyd Victor, a Windbrook Vince son, is classified EX-96 and has 13 EX, 13 VG and 12 GP daughters to date. His dam is Lady Barrington 12th EX-95. The Churchroyd herd has four cows scored EX-94 and numerous other EX-92 and EX-93 cows.
Churchroyd Peggy 19th is one of those EX-94 cows, and is a three-time National Shorthorn Show Champion and three-time Great Yorkshire Show Champion.She was also the Interbreed Champion at the 2016 Cheshire and Great Yorkshire Shows. Churchroyd Kirklevington 13th EX-93 is the farm’s first 100 tonne cow.
As mentioned prior, Ian’s children are actively involved on the farm, and show a special interest in showing. In 2019, they were Champion and Reserve Champion Shorthorn handlers at the 2019 National Calf Show and Harry won the Interbreed Champion handler at 2019 Great Yorkshire Show.
“Being the first dam and daughter in the Shorthorn breed is special,” remarked Ian. “Being the first in any breed makes it extra special. Let’s hope we have still a lot of achievements to gain!”