This previous year has seen the society move forward in numerous ways. Reflecting on the past twelve months, it’s humbling to be part of a change that will not only make an impact to the society, but the breed.
Opening the year on a high, the council decided to implement the use of genomic data to improve the accuracy of EBV evaluations. With over 13,500 animals recorded on the Hereford Cattle Society database with a genotype, each animal holds 50,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Every SNP influences a characteristic unique to the animal, both positive and negative.
With this information becoming visible to breeders, it’s an invaluable tool to support breeding decisions within a herd. Future purchasers have the reassurance that the animals they’re looking to purchase have the desired impact, coinciding with the vision for their herds progression.
With the support of Dr Brad Crook, Breedplan, the change over was a smooth one. With the update already starting to pay dividends, with animals spotted in society sales, later in the year boasting positive EBVS.
To continue the momentum, we will continue to educate and encourage our members to continue recording, in a correct and accurate manner. Something that we have already begun but have set our sights on for 2024 to increase.
Continuing the theme of data improvement. The month of May saw linear scoring being added to the roster of services provided to our members. Offering an objective, independent assessment of cows within a herd, the process sheds light on the star members and any areas of improvement.
Working with this system can enhance longevity, health, and welfare. Again, offering purchasers at sales visibility of the quality of an animal’s linage.
The summer saw show teams up and down the country exhibiting their animals. This included familiar faces but also a positive uplift of new breeders who have started showing their animals for the first time with great success. As always this captured the attention from both the farming community and the public.
Supported by the staff at Hereford house, we were able to further showcase the ring with the support of social media, with active participation within the comment sections from all around the world.
The figures were released at the end of the summer showing calf registrations of pure-bred animals and Hereford X are up by 7% from last year. The largest percentage growth of any other breed in the UK, both native and continental.
This is something we are immensely proud of. With the support of the measures, we’ve implemented throughout the year, we hope to see this trend continuing.
In the UK, the beef dairy industry is seeing the largest growth. Suckler herds are minimising but still have a very important role to play. This is reflected in the strong prices and buoyant demand for good quality animals at society sales and off-farm purchases.
The spring sale saw the top call of 12,000gns with bulls averaging £4,302.24. Later in the year, the hammer fell for the highest bidder on £9,000gns again with a strong average and clearance.
Another defining moment within this year’s calendar was the national herd competition. This time around judged by Davie and Kate Dickinson, pedigree Hereford breeders from Northumberland.
Following a thorough assessment of the top herds in the country the decision was made and announced at our annual dinner. Taking home, the coveted accolade for the second time in a row was TG, EI & EN Thorne, Studdolph Herefords, Pembrokeshire.
We look forward to finishing the year with the winter fairs and calf shows. A chance for members to showcase their young stock, many in preparation for the summer ahead.
Despite the changes we have made this year, we still have many more miles ahead of us, particularly in the investment of research to further strengthen and underline the benefits of the breed. However, with the support and enthusiasm of a network of Hereford breeders I look forward to getting involved in what 2024 has to offer.
I wish you all well for 2024.