Thirty years of the best dairy genetics celebrated at Borderway

Glyn Lucas, Harrison and Hetherington
Glyn Lucas, Harrison and Hetherington

Harrison and Hetherington (H&H) is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its annual December Black and White sale with a superb offering of the best dairy genetics, offered by almost 60 vendors from across the UK and Northern Ireland, Spain and The Netherlands.

Consignors making the journey over the Irish Sea to attend the event include; Ballythomas Holsteins from Co Tipperary, Elite Street Genetics from To. Cork, T Fitzmaurise from Co Kerry, Emerald Holsteins from Co Limerick, Roy Crommie from Co Donegal, A Fleming and Partners from Co Down, Philip Haffey from Co Armagh and G and J Smyth from Co Antrim.

“During the last 30 years we have experienced massive changes in the world of genetics, the advent of genomics, in-vitro fertilisation and sexed embryos have been instrumental in the further development of our dairy cattle.”

Glyn Lucas, Harrison and Hetherington (H&H)

Now globally recognised as one of the most important dairy sales in the calendar, the Black and White sale at Borderway, Carlisle started as an idea from Mike Armstrong (Wolfa), Gordon Wilson (Petteril), H&H’s David Thomlinson and Edward Brown, who has since remained a key organiser of the event.

This year’s sale on December 3rd has a stellar line up including a daughter from the UK Dairy Expo Supreme Champion 2015, a daughter from the Jersey Champion at Borderway’s Dairy Expo, a daughter of the Champion UK Dairy Day, a granddaughter from the European Champion and the Junior Champion from the Brown Swiss Show at Borderway Diary Expo.

This support of the big names in the dairy sector has turned the Borderway Black and White Sale into one of the most important in the industry over the last three decades. At this year’s sale, to mark the milestone, Harrison and Hetherington will be offering awards to the sale’s Best Presented Heifer and Best Presented Stand, with the winners presented with sterling silver engraved belt buckles.

Over the years, many of the consigners have supported the sales loyally by selling the best, which helped not only to establish it in the early years but ensured that the sale strengthened each year, thereafter as H&H dairy auctioneer, Glyn Lucas, explains: “During the last 30 years we have experienced massive changes in the world of genetics, the advent of genomics, in-vitro fertilisation and sexed embryos have been instrumental in the further development of our dairy cattle.

“I am thoroughly overwhelmed once again by the generosity of the consignors who have offered their very best resulting in what I believe to be the finest line up in the events 30 year history. You’ll find one of the most diverse line-ups of any sale, from the leaders in modern genetics to foundations of today’s breed.

“The show rings have seen the best cows in history compete for top honours this year and, for the first time, daughters of UK Dairy Day and UK Dairy Expo Champions feature in this sale. Also featuring in this year’s catalogue are progeny from the recent European Champion, Italian Champion, World Dairy Expo and Royal Winter Fair Champions.”

Glyn said: “It has built up, it is a sale which people trust, the buyers trust it, the sellers trust it and they know that they can come and have the opportunity to buy the best heifers in the country.”

Looking back to its inception thirty years ago, Edward Brown, one of the main organisers said: “I happened to be in the right place at the right time and adopted the idea with an enthusiasm that far exceeded my knowledge in pedigree dairy matters.

“The concept wasn’t just to get some of the very best animals from top breeders up for sale, but to somehow foster an enthusiasm amongst the sellers and buyers for the long term success of the sale. Nowadays words like ‘stakeholders’ or ‘ownership’ and the like would be used, not then, these were the days before mobile phones, computers or even ear tags.

“For me it was a daunting prospect, I was relatively new ‘up north’ with little real knowledge of pedigree cows and less of people who bred them. But with Gordon’s and Mike’s introductions and ‘hand-holding’ invaluable visits to sales, and farms around the country we managed to sign up several, albeit shell shocked and sceptical breeders who were brave enough to give it a whirl and consign heifers.”

The next step was to attract the Irish breeders and, says Edward, “they came over in their droves”. The advent of embryo transfer then meant North American genetics were brought into the mix, with Dellia’s and Roxy’s, Miss America, Marquis I, Lulu, Dolly, Celicia, Balise, Peach, Barb, Gloriette, Rosetta, Lassie and Brandy among the big names to feature in the Black and White sale.

Edward said: “A hardcore of loyal vendors continued to enhance the catalogue with their stunning heifers from famous families.

“The established vendors who came year after year inspired confidence in new breeders to sell. Several regulars spring to mind in those founding years for their unflinching support. Denmire of course, Hillhead, Mayre, Overside, Logan, Holmland, Pettril, Manor Powis, Aries, Dalesend, Joylan, Moet, Hunday, Ullswater, Weeton and Avondale to name just a few.”