German honour for NI Fleckvieh stalwart

David Hazelton, Dungannon, has been crowned 2019 Fleckvieh Pioneer by Europe's largest Fleckvieh cattle stud Bayern Genetik. One award is bestowed annually, with the recipient receiving a certificate and a bespoke cow bell.
David Hazelton, Dungannon, has been crowned 2019 Fleckvieh Pioneer by Europe's largest Fleckvieh cattle stud Bayern Genetik. One award is bestowed annually, with the recipient receiving a certificate and a bespoke cow bell.

Dungannon farmer and pedigree Simmental breeder David Hazelton has been named Fleckvieh Pioneer 2019.

The announcement was made during a recent visit to the Bayern Genetik Stud near Munich in the Province of Bavaria.

Dr Thomas Grupp, chief executive, Bayern Genetik, congratulates 2019 Fleckvieh Pioneer David Hazelton from Dungannon.

Dr Thomas Grupp, chief executive, Bayern Genetik, congratulates 2019 Fleckvieh Pioneer David Hazelton from Dungannon.

Each year the company – Europe’s largest Fleckvieh Stud – bestows the unique and prestigious award on a person, or group of people, who has showed outstanding commitment and service to the dual-purpose Fleckvieh breed, and its promotion.

Making the presentation, which included a certificate and a bespoke cow bell, Bayern Genetik’s chief executive Dr Thomas Grupp explained that Fleckvieh pioneers must show a passion for the breed, and a power of conviction in the highly competitive global genetics market.

Dr Grupp said: “David, I still remember our first meeting in 2003, when we hatched a plan to revive the interest in Fleckvieh genetics throughout the UK and Ireland. The first steps were quite difficult, and it took time to convince cattlemen and dairy farmers to have a look at Fleckvieh - the ‘world’s best kept secret’ in those days.

“We succeeded in the end. Bayern Genetik’s UK and Ireland agent David Hazelton deserves a lot of the credit for putting Fleckvieh firmly on the map within the British Isles.”

Dr Grupp continued: “Well-known and highly respected Simmental breeder, David Hazelton realised the potential of the dual-purpose Fleckvieh for the UK’s mainly pasture-based milk production. The current Fleckvieh population throughout the UK and Ireland would be unthinkable without the dedication and tenacity of David Hazelton during the last 15 years.

“Dairy farming is changing at a dramatic pace, and characteristics such as animal welfare, the future of bull calves, and milk quality, are high on the agenda. Consumers are influencing the work of farmers, and Fleckvieh offers great opportunities in the future.

“Over the years David has been supported by his family. I visited the Hazelton family’s Ranfurly Herd in 2006, and was interested to see the training of his show cattle using a donkey. In 2011 I was able to demonstrate this technique to a 90-year-old Massai chief in Kenya, and I was carried shoulder high after the show in Nairobi because his cattle were the best trained.”

Dr Grupp concluded: “On behalf of Bayern Genetik I congratulate you for all your activities, and wish you continued success with your pedigree Simmental Herd, and we hope that you continue to promote Fleckvieh in the future.

“The Bavarian Freestate, as a long-time trading partner of the UK is not happy about Brexit, and is worried about the future of Europe without the UK. As a company we hope that our ‘Fleck’s’ get the Holsteins, Kiwis and Jerseys transformed to our type so that all your clients, and our customers, make more profit using our proven genetics.”

An overwhelmed David Hazelton contributed his success to a sound training in sales.

“In the early years my career started at Uni-Lever and the English Milk Marketing Board.

“Being a stockman, and having an interest in livestock is a big advantage, as the knowledge of the product you are selling comes naturally.

“I sell Fleckvieh semen on the concept of daughter proven bulls with sound proofs. Genomics to me is still a gamble!”

He continued: “I have always worked on the theory that I would not sell a farmer something that I would not buy myself. My one big driver was to prove the Fleckvieh sceptics wrong. In the past I was hit with comments that suckler udders wouldn’t last long, Fleckvieh bulls have no milk, and milk and beef don’t go together. These comments empowered me.

“Over the years I have proved the sceptics wrong, and this award is testimony to the fact that I was right. I’d like to thank my loyal and dedicated customers, who have contributed to my success as Fleckvieh Pioneer 2019.”