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BRITISH FRIESIAN FOCUS
In our 100th year
BARROWOOD DISPERSAL SALE
Auctioneers Greenslade Taylor Hunt were on farm at J E & R A Davys Newlands Farm, Barrow Gurney, Bristol in May
for the dispersal of the milking and in-calf portion of their Barrowood herd of Pedigree British Friesians. This was a rare
opportunity, not only for a complete herd of Friesians, but Friesians that mostly calved in the autumn. An exceptionally
uniform herd of cows with excellent udders and feet, as expected from this breed, resulted in the 100 lots on offer
generating a great deal of interest with 22 successful purchasers taking Barrowood cattle across the country from Devon
to Kent to Pembrokeshire.
The day’s top call of 2050gns was achieved four times, all by November calvers. The fi rst was Barrowood Dove Peach by
Dovea Peach. Out of an 8,000 kg dam, she had calved her fi rst last autumn. She was followed by a third calved Unwin cow
sired by Catlane Chedder and another third calver by Dovea Sem from the Nora family. These were all purchased along
with 10 others by Mr Hutchings from Ilminster. A second calver by Lakemead Prancer, Barrowood Lake Emerald completed
the four purchased by Russell Adams of Weston-Super-Mare. All of them had been re-served and confi rmed back in calf
due this autumn.
The eleven served heifers due this autumn to the Aberdeen Angus bull sold to 1180gns for a daughter of Winnoch Offi cer.
An exceptionally well attended day saw numerous potential purchasers going away empty handed.
The following impressive averages were recorded: Cows & heifers £1316.63; served heifers £1072.91; 100 head averaged
£1289.82.
Red Cross, a dry cow Terling Torch 75 made 1,800gns and a Lavenham cow 1,000gns. George Hobson warned members that
the prices bore no relation to any possible price they would get for their milk, either then or later! The Journal has very rarely
concerned itself with milk prices, by which most of the smaller subscribers made their living.
He was, as ever, concerned with the quality of breeding stock as the market was fl ooded with inferior animals “by those in
a search for un-earned profi t” Stern words indeed, but he had devoted so much effort through the pages of the Journal to
guide and educate the development of the breed.
The Society had hoped that the Clubs would also guide the breeding policies of their members’ herds and develop and
prove blood lines. With the exception of the Yorkshire Clubs, it was said that many others had developed into dealers and
salesmen, not at all what had been envisaged!
1946 was marked by two notable events. The retirement of George Hobson after 35 years as secretary of the Society, and his
very able assistant, Miss Bult, marked the end of an era which had seen the establishment of the British Friesian as the UK’s
premier breed, and the Society as the largest dairy breed organisation. The Society was once again established in London,
and was desperately trying to catch up with the substantial backlog of work. W H Bursby was appointed to replace George
Hobson and eventually, with a greatly increased staff, caught up with the arrears.
The other event was the decision to seek a further importation of bloodlines and this time from Canada. This had in fact
been mooted back in 1919, but the cattle had failed to come up to Councils’ standards. This time they were more fortunate
and with a minimum requirement of 3.7% butterfat, they brought better udders than the original Dutch cattle, although of
a “more extreme dairy type with long narrow hind legs”. The Society still maintained strict control and many other Canadian
cattle that were imported privately were not eligible for the Herd Book. Although unpopular with the Membership, they also
held fi rm against the registration of 500 in-calf heifers donated by the Dutch to the British Agricultural Disaster Fund, as they
had not been specially selected.
1949 saw a new venture in the form of co-operation with the Milk Marketing Board to provide the milk records of
registered Friesian animals for England and Wales, with a similar agreement for Scotland and Ireland. A Production Register
was launched in 1950 and other valuable data and Breed Averages were produced. In that year 49,406 females were
registered, nearly double the numbers in 1945.
There was anxiety amongst breeders that pedigree was meaning less and less, and anxiety also about problems said to arise
from too much in-breeding in certain herds. In 1950 Council decided to visit Holland again, this time with a Ministry vet. They
had been limited to 100 animals, but only managed to select 70 which came up to their requirements for type and butterfat.
Fantastic prices for pedigree livestock were being obtained and when the importation was sold, the Society made over
£138,000 on an outlay of £41,000. Seventeen bulls were retained and placed with AI stations and were available to member’s
cattle for a fee.
1950 also saw the Bull Progeny Production Register which covered all bulls with 20 or more unselected daughter lactations
completed since Sep. 26, 1948.
The Society, needing to house voluminous records, was now in a position to purchase and move out of London. Scotsbridge
House at Rickmansworth was obtained for £35,000. After additional building it was offi cially opened in 1953. Another
landmark in the Society’s history.
Mary Mead (with many references from the Histories of the British Friesian breed by J K Stanford and Prof Gordon Mingay)
THE JOURNAL JUNE 2009 53
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