Keelham secures another Skipton prime cattle champion Malham Moor’s Bill Cowperthwaite again lifted the prime cattle championship at Skipton Auction Mart’s July show. (Mon, July 6) Mr Cowperthwaite, of Tennant Gill Farm, who also landed the title in May as a first-time exhibitor, repeated the achievement at the latest renewal with his first prize 580kg British Blue-cross heifer, which sold for £1,552, or 267.5p/kg, to Keelham Farm Shop.

Mr Cowperthwaite was also responsible for the second prize bullock, a Limousin-cross that made £1,482, or 255.5p/kg, when selling to Stanforths Butchers for its shop on Mill Bridge, Skipton. It fell to show judge Simon Barker, a director the CCM Quality Foods, whose on-site meat production unit at the mart is run by Stanforths.

Mr Cowperthwaite also sold two further Limousin-cross entries to Kitsons Butchers in Northallerton – a heifer at £1,633, or 281.5p/kg, and a bullock for £1,612, or 275.5p/kg. Kitsons struck again when paying the day’s leading per head price of £1,702, or 274.5p/kg, for the first prize steer and reserve champion, a 620kg Limousin-cross from Trawden’s Jim Baines.

All three acquisitions will be going on sale at Kitsons’ shop in Northallerton High Street after being fully matured for 30 days to allow the meat to reach peak condition. Owner Anthony Kitson said: “It will have a texture, tenderness and taste to savour – just like real meat should be.”

Bill Cowperthwaite farms 810 acres of National Trust land on Malham Moor, rising from a height of 1,350ft up to 2,200ft – and while it is not quite the back of beyond, it’s certainly not far from it!

The National Trust also owns the farmhouse and, far beyond the reach of the national grid, installed a pair of water turbines to generate electricity from a stream, along with special solar panels that convert sunlight into more electricity.

Committed to protecting the environment and conserving energy, Mr Cowperthwaite says he is virtually self-sufficient. His nearest neighbour around one-and-a-half miles away is Darnbrook’s James Hall, also a familiar face at Skipton Auction Mart.

Mr Cowperthwaite has farmed Tennant Gill since 1981, when his son, Robert, who is now an integral part of the family farm, was born. It’s picture postcard country in summer, but the winters are harsh and the snow has been known to get so deep the family had to build tunnels from the front door!

The farm was a member of The Limestone Country Project, established to help protect and improve some of England’s most important wildlife sites by promoting the re-introduction of native cattle breeds to graze the limestone pavement areas of Malham and Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Today, Limousin-cross beef cattle are the staple diet at Tennant Gill, supplemented by Blue Greys and a number of pure-bred Limousin.

Also key to the farm is the renowned flock of some 500 pedigree Swaledale ewes, almost all of which are descended from a single ewe given to Mr Cowperthwaite as a boy by his grandfather. He remains fiercely proud of the quality of the meat from his Swaledale lambs, putting its superior flavour down to the herb-rich upland pastures on which the sheep graze.

Over the years, Mr Cowperthwaite has won multiple awards for his Swaledales, both at agricultural shows and his local auction mart, where he is now making an increasing impact with his top-notch beef cattle.

Back at the July prime show, Jim Baines was also responsible for the third prize heifer, a British Blue-cross which made £1,268, or 224.5p/kg, when again selling to Stanforths Butchers.

In a standalone show class for young bulls, Claire Crowther, of Greenfield, Oldham, made a clean sweep of the prizes with three home-bred British Blue-cross entries, all out of Hereford cows and all by the same sire, Bluegrass Elite, who is himself by a Black Star bull from well-known Shropshire breeder Graham Brindley. The trio sold to a high of £1,006, or 193.5p/kg.

Cull cows also had their own show classes, with Chris Akrigg, of Cray, taking the red rosette in the beef section with a British Blue sold for a show-topping £1,390, or 165.5p/kg, while first prize winners in the dairy-bred show class were JP&KE Hartley, of Bolton Abbey, with a black and white entry knocked down for £1,016.

Cull cows averaged a healthy £729.92 per head, or 113.02p/kg.