British Blue herd scoops sector accolade

Show heifer Kersey Jet with Alice Partridge.

Show heifer Kersey Jet with Alice Partridge. - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk-based British Blue cattle herd has been recognised as the most improved in England.

Alice Partridge and some of the Kersey bulls with parents Sarah and Chris.

Alice Partridge and some of the Kersey bulls with parents Sarah and Chris. - Credit: Archant

The Kersey herd, owned by R Partridge and Son Ltd scooped the accolade from AHDB Beef & Lamb for the second time, having first won the title in 2011.

The award is presented by the AHDB Beef & Lamb Better Returns Programme (BRP) to the recorded herd that shows the greatest genetic gain for commercial characteristics over a 12-month period. There is a separate award for each of the 10 UK breeds.

The farm, based near Hadleigh, is a mixed business on 300 hectares run by Chris Partridge, his wife, Sarah, and eldest child Alice, who is in her final year of university and is showing a keen interest in the cattle and is passionate about the British Blue breed. Two thirds of the farm is arable and the rest permanent pasture.

Within the Kersey herd there are 20 British Blue females and a suckler herd of 60 Simmental-cross cows. The family also runs a long-established flock of 100 pedigree Suffolk sheep. Livestock are fed home-grown feed, along with arable by-products including straw, grass silage, fodder beet, wheat and barley.

The British Blue herd was established in 1986 after Chris left college and has been recorded for 13 years, first with Signet and now Breedplan.

“My Suffolk flock has always been performance recorded with Signet. The data provided guides management and breeding decisions for sound genetic progress and so it seemed logical to record my British Blue herd too,” he said.

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“I am a firm believer in performance recording. There is a lot of merit in having data available on an individual animal, as long as accuracy in the estimated breeding values (EBVs) is high.”

He added that all animals are scanned and weight recorded, which helps his breeding decisions.

Four-year-old, homebred Kersey Ebony, sired by Mountjoy Utopia, has some of the highest growth-rate EBVs in the country. His calves are born very well, with correct legs and backed by high figures. He continues to be used on the Kersey herd and frozen semen means other pedigree breeders can access his genetics, providing another useful income for the farm.

Bulls are sold direct from the farm and occasionally through Carlisle or Chelford pedigree sales.

Chris said: “I am delighted and surprised to receive this award for a second time. I was not expecting it but am very pleased to have the recognition and it is exciting for my daughter, Alice, who is heavily involved with the cattle.”