Holstein UK has announced that the Castledale herd has been chosen as the winner of the 2021 British Friesian Herd of the Year Award.
The herd, owned by Gordon and Gavin Stockdale and family, is situated on the Lecale Peninsula in County Down, Northern Ireland.
The Stockdale family has farmed in the area since the 1600s. However, it was not until the 1950s that Gordon’s father, Tom, introduced British Friesians to the farm.
They utilised AI from the 1960s onwards, which drove the herd forwards. In 1997, when Gordon’s son, Gavin, returned home from college, the herd was graded up to pedigree status under the Castledale prefix; classification and milk recording were also introduced.
The Stockdales have always believed that the backbone of any herd is based around good cow families, who will reliably breed quality stock for generations.
The herd comprises 150 British Friesians and includes 69 EX (including 6 EX95 and 10 EX94), 41 VG and 2 EX bulls. As of 2020, the herd yielded 7,514 litres, 4.55 fat, and 3.45 protein.
This new award the family has scooped is aimed at recognising the top-performing British Friesian herd each year, based on a combination of classification and production.
Breed Code 20 females, bred and owned by the member, that have finished two lactations and calved within the last two years, will be allocated points according to their performance.
To qualify for the award, a herd must have a minimum of 30 females included in the calculation and must achieve at least 20% of the total points from classification.
The British Friesian herd with the highest average number of points (per female included in the calculation) will then be named as herd of the year.
Hard work and dedication
Sue Cope, Holstein UK CEO, commented: “The British Friesian Herd of the Year Award recognises the most outstanding British Friesian herd based on a combination of both classification and production.”
“I would like to congratulate the Stockdale family on being announced as the first winners of this brand-new award.”
“It is a fantastic achievement in recognition of their hard work and dedication to the British Friesian breed,” Cope concluded.
The family’s previous achievements include:
- Twice winners of the British Friesian herds competition in the last decade;
- Top scoring mature cow in the last British Friesian herds competition, Castledale Excelsior Empress 39 (100 tonnes) EX96-10E and runner-up heifer Castledale Brandy Pauline 2 (now EX93 in 3rd lactation);
- Runner up in British Friesian bull progeny competition, Castledale Odyssey;
- Castledale Excelsior Empress 39 scored EX96, one of the highest-scored cows in recent years;
- Eight of the top 20 highest classified British Friesian cows in the last three years are from the Castledale herd.