Suffolk Show 2011: Dairy farming family scoops four top breed titles

A dairying family took the cream of the titles yesterday as their Holsteins and Jerseys swept up the champion and reserve champion titles in their respective breeds.

The Strachans, who run a dairying operation at their farm in Rendham, near Saxmundham, put on a gold top performance as they showed a selection of their small herds of 45 Holstein and 25 Jersey milking cows.

Along with a small group of other dairy farms, the cattle provide the milk for the family’s Marybelle label, based at Halesworth, which makes a range of products including ice cream, cream, yoghurt, milk and creme fraiche and employs 16 staff.

Katherine Manning (nee Strachan) said they were “absolutely ecstatic” after triumphing in both breed categories.

“I can’t believe it. It’s brilliant to come out and have lots of first and then champion and reserve,” she said. “We always do well here, but not quite this well.”

Her brother, James Strachan, added: “You always think you have got good ones at home and that’s why you bring them. You come hoping to do as good as you can but you never know what anyone else is going to bring out.

“It’s always a bit of a lottery whether they are going to settle.”

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Although they had come away with two champions two years ago, this was the first time they had scooped the reserve prize at the same time.

“I don’t know if there are that many people that have both breeds. We are really, really proud of it,” he said.

“We all work hard 365 days a year as do all the farmers here and it’s nice to come out and do well as a family.”

He praised show organisers for giving more prominence to the cattle show by moving its location. “I feel that the committee has really stepped up the priorities and validated how important the cattle are in the show because in those rings the public can see us.”

Also celebrating success was the Harper family of Weybread, near Diss, who scooped the overall champion in the Any Other Pure Beef Breed category with their British Charolais cow, Weybread Blanc.

In the Longhorn category, a joint effort involving Geoff Wild of Little Baddow in Essex and Christopher Wright in Cambridgeshire paid off with the overall title in their cattle breed.

Meanwhile, Darren Wharton, a welder and fabricator based at Withersdale Street, near Harleston, who keeps a small herd of Limousin cattle on the side, took the top and runner-up title in his breed category.

“We are delighted - absolutely delighted. It’s fantastic,” he said.

“We had really great comments from the judge as well.”