This year’s Mid West Breeders’ Group summer visit was to the Blackdown Herd of Longhorns owned by the Batchelor family and set in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. The weather was ‘variable’ and rained whilst Russell Batchelor gave us an outline of how it all started, whilst we were undercover. It was well times as the rain finished at the same time as he did!
The farm at Churchstanton runs to some 90 acres and used to be a dairy farm. The herd numbers some 70 cows and four bulls are kept as the cows run in bunches of 15 to 20. The cows graze land which is owned by the Forestry Commission who let it to the Blackdown Hills Trust, who in turn have a contract with the Batchelor Family and is now about half way through the 10 year agreement. The Forestry Commission had originally had Longhorns but when their tenant became unsuitable the Batchelors put in an offer and now own the herd. It is quite a challenge as the daily round to check the cattle can be up to 30 miles.
Water bowsers have contact telephone numbers on them and the public are very helpful at spotting ‘problems’.
We then went in convoy some five miles away and saw one group which were in a 30 acre ‘paddock’. The woodland covers some 380 acres.
Back nearer the farm we saw two groups of steers and the newest recruit to the line up of bulls, Tanfield Jacket, bred by Mike Shearstone and bought from Pete Grabham. Becky Batchelor, with her mother in law put on a barbeque for us with homegrown burgers and sausages.
A vote of thanks on behalf of the group was given by Mark Barden and bouquet was given by Monique Hustinx to Becky Batchelor.