More than 300 people attended the Holstein UK Premier Pedigree Herd Open Day on Thursday 15 June at the Birkle family’s Whinchat Holstein Herd.
The Birkle family, of 200 acre Dungehill Farm, won the Premier Pedigree Herd Competition in 2016 and, as part of winning, invited guests to visit and view their herd.
Visitors travelled from all over the UK, including Devon, Wales and Northern Ireland to learn more about the herd and enjoy a farm walk. Holstein UK Classifier Meurig James welcomed visitors, followed by short introductory speeches from Andrew Dutton, Holstein UK Chairman, and Andrew Birkle. Visitors viewed the farm and cattle and spoke to the event sponsors, as well as having the opportunity to bid in the silent auction. A big thank you must go to all of the sponsors, in particular those who took gold packages, including: GLW Feeds; GEA in association with Griffins Dairy Equipment; Wright Marshall; Freshways; World Wide Sires; and NMR.
Dungehill Farm: a generational family business of high performing Holsteins
Andrew Birkle took over the running of the dairy herd at Dungehill Farm in Loughborough and registered the Whinchat Prefix in 1973. In 1980 Andrew started breeding Holsteins, and it was a trip to Pinehurst Holsteins in America in 1995 which saw Andrew purchase his first American embryos, following which he started the Savoire Fare, Nell, Savy, Darlene and Beaujolais families. Today, the cows are managed on a commercial basis, being grazed for twelve hours in the summer and housed at night on TMR, whilst they are housed 24/7 during the winter. Whilst Andrew can take credit for the breeding, the running of the farm is certainly a family effort, not least by his wife Mimi who manages the calf and young stock rearing. Andrew and Mimi have four sons, two of which are very much involved in the family business and the day-to-day running of the farm.
The Birkle family are renowned for their meticulous management; they have a clear focus on breeding practical, hard-working Holstein dairy cattle and it is their attention to detail in a commercial environment that crowned them winners of the 2016 Holstein UK Premier Pedigree Herd.
Andrew Birkle commented; “I would just like to say what a fantastic day we all had at the Open Day. It made the years of dedication to the breed worthwhile and the comments about the herd from the breeders who visited were very humbling – thank you all for travelling from far and wide to see us! The effort from my team, including tidying the farm and preparing the auction animals, was second to none, and I would like to pass on my sincerest thanks to everyone involved. Finally, I would like to thank everyone who purchased animals and wish them all the best in the future.”
Andrew Dutton, Holstein UK added, “The Birkle family put on a great show for the Premier Pedigree Herd Open Day. The farm tour was extremely interesting and to attract over 300 visitors was fantastic. We’ve all come away feeling inspired by the outstanding quality of the Whinchat herd. Holstein UK’s Premier Pedigree Herd Competition is one of the most prestigious and we’re already looking forward to the competition this year, which officially launches this summer and will be awarded at UK Dairy Day on Wednesday 13 September.”