East Anglian success at Craven Champions showcase Keasden Head female champion tops sale at £3,000 There was a long distance success at Skipton Auction Mart’s annual Craven Champions highlight when Norfolk breeders Henry Harvey & Son, from Waxham Hall, Waxham, took the supreme championship. (Tues & Wed, Feb 19 & 20) At the two-day show and sale of 2018-born store cattle with show potential, Mr Harvey’s April-born British Blue-cross bullock won the first class of the evening show for un-haltered steers, before progressing to become champion steer, then overall supreme champion.

The nine-month-old is among the first crop of home-bred calves to the Harveys’ new stock bull, the Welsh-bred Dragon Blues Kevin, acquired in May, 2017, for 12,000gns. Out of a Blue-cross-Limousin cow, at the following day’s sale the all-black victor became the top-priced male when selling for £2,300 to Skipton regular Mathew Keel, of Thirsk.
The Harveys first exhibited at the Craven Champions showcase in 2016. Mr Harvey farms with his son Ben and they regularly make the long journey north to both sell and buy sheep at Skipton - Texel are their main breed, while they also run a 50-strong herd of cross-bred commercial cattle, as well as growing barley, wheat, peas, potatoes and sugar beet on their 850-acre Grade 1 arable holding, with cattle grazed on the Norfolk Broads marshes.
Cumbrian show judge Neil Slack, who runs the Plumtree herd in Newby, Penrith, remained in the same show class for his reserve supreme champion, the second prize Blue-cross bullock and reserve male champion from defending champions, the Walker family, of Brennand Farm, Dunsop Bridge.
The Walkers - father Geoff and his two sons John and Rob, who farm high above the Hodder Valley - have dominated the increasingly popular winter fixture, winning an unprecedented seven titles in recent years. They were also responsible for the 2018 reserve champion and the champion steer.
Their 2019 reserve supreme is the first show calf by the family’s new stock bull, Tenace, a Belgium import acquired over two years ago from Norbreck Genetics in Cockerham, Lancaster, from whom the Walkers also got their renowned British Blue stock bull, Cromwell Fendt, who has sired many of their past Skipton champions. Out of a Limousin-cross cow, the overall runner-up, another all-black, sold for £1,500 to G Raper, of Thorne, Doncaster.
The Walkers picked up four rosettes this year and it was their third prize haltered Blue-cross heifer, an April-born embryo daughter of Cajoleur De Rettigny, out of a Fendt-sired cow, that secured the day’s second highest price of £2,400 when falling to John Bradley in Giggleswick.
Also coming from the same home was the first prize haltered Blue bullock, an April-born son of the Fendt, who was acquired as a three-year-old and is still going strong at the age of nine. Out of a pure Limousin cow, the red rosette winner sold for £1,350 to regular Derbyshire buyer, Michael Wynne, of Hall Farm, Matlock.
In 2014, Geoff Walker first presented the Jack Walker Trophy in memory of his late father for the Craven Champions victor. While it has returned home many times, Mr Walker said he was both honoured and delighted to present it this year to Henry Harvey, who had once again travelled a great distance to support the annual fixture.
North Craven show regular Sheila Mason, supreme champion in 2017, again performed well with their Keasden Head herd, notably with a May-born Blue-cross heifer that first won its strong show class, before being tapped out as female champion and going on to top the sale with a price tag of £3,000.
Shown by her husband David Thornton, the home-bred eight-month-old heifer is by Keasden Head Activator, used successfully for four years. Out of another home-bred Blue-cross cow, the price-leading female also joined Michael Wynne.
In the past, he has purchased multiple Craven Champions prize-winners, which have been shown locally with great success by Mr Wynne’s daughter Ellie, about to turn 17, a member of Bakewell Young Farmers Club who is now studying agriculture at Newton Rigg College in Penrith.
Both the 2019 top price heifer and prize-winning bullock will follow a similar route this year in the hands of Ellie, also with potential appearances at the Royal Welsh and Great Yorkshire Shows, as well as Beef Expo, in the pipeline.
Also making a big impression from Keasden Head were all three prize-winning Blues in the young handlers show class. The June-born red rosette-winning bullock, shown by the couple’s son, James, and another product of Hercules, made a solid £2,000 when joining JK Beckett & Son, of Weston, Newark.
Making a real impression with a hat-trick of class wins on what was only their second Craven Champions appearance were Kirklees brothers James and Jonathan Townend, of Lockwoods Farm, Scapegoat Hill, Golcar, assisted by the former’s girlfriend Jodie Whiteley.
Doing best of the trio in the show arena was the first prize un-haltered heifer, a May-born Limousin-cross by a well utilised home-bred stock bull, out of a Blue-cross-Limousin cow, which went on to become reserve female champion and sell £1,150 to David Hancock, of Sandbach.
The same sire was also responsible for the red rosette-winning June-born haltered Limousin heifer, sold for a pen-topping £1,550 to D Allen, of Malton, while the Townends also clinched first prize in the haltered Limousin bullock show class with a May-born son of the Genus sire, Lodge Hamlet, which fell for £1,200 to the Keighley-based Feathers.
Winning the remaining show class for any other haltered breeds haltered were Janet and James Huck, of Austwick, with a home-bred June-born Blonde-cross heifer by another well utilised stock bull, Stubbswalden Endeavour, which sold for a pen-topping £1,900, again to the Colchester-based Ketleys. The Hucks also sold a red Limousin heifer for £1,700, with their strong pen averaging £1,550.
Also among the prizes with a brace of runners-up rosettes for an un-haltered June-born Blue-cross heifer and a haltered May-born Limousin heifer was Nidderdale hill farmer and commercial cattle breeder, Mark Ewbank, of Intake Farm, Middlesmoor. His charges made £1,220 and £1,350 when claimed by, respectively, the Ketleys again and ME&CA Duerden, of Dalton-in-Furness.
Well-known Cumbrian Herdwick sheep breeders, Ian and Angela Grisedale, of Crooklands, Kendal, had the runner-up in the haltered Limousin bullock show class with a January-born son of a Clapham-based Ian Townley-bred dam bought out of Skipton two years earlier. It sold for £1,220 when becoming a further Littleworth family acquisition.
Skipton’s first major store cattle showcase of 2019 again created very strong interest from the ringside, once more attracting multiple sponsors.