Newfield Beef Shorthorn pedigree herd to be sold at CCM Skipton
Some of the oldest and top Beef Shorthorn bloodlines in the UK will go under the hammer at a dispersal sale of Michael Abrahams’ entire Newfield herd from Mickley, near Ripon, at Skipton Auction Mart, on Wednesday, November 7
It brings down the curtain on more than half a century of keeping cattle for Mr Abrahams, who has taken the ‘reluctant’ decision to sell his highly regarded herd, as long-term herdsman Ray Sanderson reduces his workload on the estate – at the age of 78! Mr Abrahams is himself 80.
The sale of the remaining 21-strong herd is being staged purposely to coincide with CCM Skipton’s 2018 pedigree beef pedigree highlight, the annual show and sale of bulls and females. It will comprise15 cows and heifers with calves at foot, two heifers either with calf at foot or in-calf, three yearling heifers and the herd’s esteemed 2013 stock bull, Sleightholme Star Thistle.
Mr Abrahams explained: “The theme of the dispersal sale is a small herd of long clean cows, mainly polled, with the breeding of some of the oldest and best bloodlines in the country, among them the Tanzy family from Otterington, the Ruby family from Glenisla, the Victoria family from Upsall and our own Foxglove family, which derives from Glenisla Foxglove Tansy, with the line continued as Newfield Foxglove.”
Until 1986, Mr Abrahams and farm manager, Mr Sanderson, had been buying in, finishing and selling on continental store cattle. In 1987, they decided to start a suckler herd, researching and looking at various breeds, both native and continental, before selecting the Beef Shorthorn.
“Our reasons for this choice were several. Beef Shorthorn are easy to keep, as they live off home-grown grass, hay and silage. They calve easily, do their calves well and are long lived and fertile. They are also gentle by nature and easy to handle.
“We were also attracted by the fact the cattle were a local northern breed with many local connections in their history. Although their numbers were sadly diminished in 1987, we felt confident there was a real possibility of promoting the commercial advantages of the breed - and with their traditional colouring they looked just right and ideally suited to the Yorkshire countryside,” said Mr Abrahams.
Also key to the decision at the time was the fact that The Hon Gerald Turton, who runs Britain’s oldest Beef Shorthorn herd at Upsall Castle in nearby Thirsk, was about to hold a reduction sale, providing a valuable opportunity acquire some high quality breeding stock as a foundation for the new herd.
Mr Abrahams continued: “Having bought our initial Upsall cows, we set out our strategy to develop a high quality herd, not only retaining the traditional Shorthorn characteristics, but also bringing in stock from other leading herds at that time.
“Accompanied and aided by Gerald Turton, we visited the top Beef Shorthorn breeders in the country and bought two heifers from each of the Chapelton, Glenisla and Uppermill herds, along with a Fingask bull. We also bought an outstanding bull from James and Donald Biggar in Castle Douglas, Chapelton Eclipse, with whom we won the Breed Championship three times at the Great Yorkshire Show.”
Moving forward, further opportunities for development were grasped, including in 1990 the acquisition of entire Otterington herd near Northallerton on the death of the late Miss Mary Furness, who bred the exceptional herd on traditional lines.
In 1995, a successful reduction sale at Newfield presented an opportunity to do some high profile marketing on behalf of the breed, with the herd reduced further at the onset of BSE and again when foot and mouth decimated so many beef cattle in the country.
Mr Abrahams added: “Unfortunately, Ray Sanderson, who has been with us for almost 40 years and has played such a major role in the development of the herd, is now retiring from looking after the cattle, but continuing to look after other aspects of the farm and the land.”
In recognition of Mr Sanderson’s loyal service over the years, Mr Abrahams, a former president of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, which organises the Great Yorkshire Show, has nominated his long-standing colleague, who has also judged Beef Shorthorn cattle at the highest level over the years, for a long service award.
Looking ahead to what will be a sale day tinged with more than a little emotion for both men, Mr Sanderson said: “I will miss them and I know they will miss me.”
The Newfield’ herd is an elite member of the SRUC Premium Cattle Health Scheme, being Johnes Level 1 and accredited for both BVD and IBR.
CCM Auctions’ general manager Jeremy Eaton said: “The Newfield herdbook is a concentration of original pure lines dating back to the early days of the Coates Herd Book. The herd has a history of studious breed improvement.
“A good number of daughters of the easy calving Connor of Upsall will be coming through at the heart of the sale, all sold with Spring calves at foot by Sleightholme Star Thistle, six of which are registered heifer calves. All the cows have again run with the Newfield stock bull since calving and will be scanned prior to sale.
“The sale represents an opportunity to buy into some fine bloodlines, with plenty of thought applied to producing strong, though not over large cattle, which convert off forage, are easy to manage and extremely docile to handle.”
The Newfield dispersal sale will follow the pedigree Shorthorn cattle sale at Skipton at approximately 12.45pm. For enquiries and pre-sale inspection of the herd, interested parties are asked to contact Ray Sanderson on 01765 635248.