Over forty commercial and pedigree breeders travelled from Somerset, Devon and throughout Cornwall to attend the eighth Cornwall Simmental Open Day on Sunday 28th July. In glorious sunshine we were treated to a tour of Castle Farm, Castle-an-Dinas, St Columb Major at the kind invitation of the Hooper Family.
After welcoming visitors with coffee and cake Cornwall Simmental Club Chairman, Barrie Wynter presented a cheque to Kieran Varker (Vice Chairman) and Natalie Brown (Social Media and Communications Officer) representing Threemilestone YFC. The £100.00 donation goes to the club’s 2019 Fundraising For Our Future Campaign. Threemilestone and District Young Farmers have the opportunity to purchase the plot of land that the club hall sits on, including the surrounding car park area for £52,000. In six months they are half way to their target.
Shown around by David, Steph and Peter we viewed over one hundred and thirty suckler cows including pedigree blondes and Simmentals as well as cross-bred dams. Grazing two hundred and twenty acres of permanent pasture reclaimed from downs the family’s hard work has resulted in plentiful grass despite the hot, dry conditions experienced this year. The farm rises to eight hundred and fifty feet (two hundred and sixty metres) above sea level. The surrounding views were marvellous as David remarked ‘one of the best offices in the world’.
Decisions throughout the move from a dairy business to a suckler beef enterprise have been based on costings and currently the herd is run to offer top class suckled calves at Truro Livestock Market from the end of August onwards with only herd replacements being retained. This allows dams to recover and gain condition before the majority calve indoors during the winter months.
With all members of team Hooper also working part time off the holding, this system aids management and reduces winter costs while maximising profits. The move to increase numbers of Simmentals over the last five years has been driven by temperament, handling ease and the dams' ability to grow shapely calves with good confirmation that have been proved to be very easy to sell.
Following welcome refreshments Cornwall Quality Livestock Producers representatives, Peter Chapman Chairman and procurement and marketing officer Shelley Lockett, gave a presentation on their independent livestock marketing co-operative owned by its farming members.
As a group of farmers they benefit from marketing their stock together the organisation has roots going back to 1975 when a group of enterprising Cornish lamb producers collaborated to market their early season lambs outside the county to achieve higher returns.
For over thirty years CQLP have been selling livestock on behalf of members located throughout the South West to deadweight outlets across the UK. Livestock farmers work together to retain strength and independence in the marketplace, encourage best practice and improve the profitability of their businesses as well as promoting the quality of the beef and lamb they produce. With over two hundred and fifty members CQLP market over 20,000 lambs and 5,000 cattle per year sharing transport costs and benefiting from insurance against bad debts. CQLP has an interactive website where the members’ only area has latest information and prices and also offers a free advertising section covering breeding stock, machinery and miscellaneous agricultural services.
The afternoon concluded with votes of thanks and gifts for our tremendous hosts.