John Harrison is very proud to be representing the Holstein Breed on the front cover of the October 2009 issue of the Holstein Journal with the Lucy Family.
For John Harrison at Crossrigg in Cumbria, as for numerous other breeders, Foot and Mouth saw the decimation of years of breeding. However out of the tragedy the Harrisons have emerged and flourished, in part due to the phenomenal success of one cow, the now 13 year old Ewefields Lucy 7.
The story begins when John was chatting to the late Tom Carrick (of Ullswater notoriety), son back in 2001. Toms daughter is married to Winston Warhurst from the Ewefields herd and mention was made that the Ewefields herd was for sale. John and family intended to buy a whole herd when restocking, and they subsequently did, purchasing the 220 head from Ewefields in the August of 2001. In December, the recently married John and wife Debbie moved down to the Warhursts farm in December to milk the Ewefields herd in-situ for three months until they could move the herd back to Cumbria in early 2002.
Looking back John remembers that Winston said Lucy 7 was the best purchase in the herd, but he was reticent. At that time she had completed her heifer lactation (when she had scored GP84), and was a VG 3rd calver who had just calved with twins and held her cleansing. She travelled to Cumbria along with her sisters by Russelldale Promise and Hanoverhill Raider, by which time they were all Excellent, and at that time John preferred the Raider sister, however Lucy 7 was simply developing and smouldering into the magnificent framed cow she is today.
The three Lucy sisters are bred from a VG86 Romandale Star Chief who was the first Lucy bred at Ewefields, as she in turn heralded from the EX92 Leath Inspiration Lucy who was purchased by the Warhursts from a Crewe sale. Leath Inspiration Lucy had been passed through the ring, and shrewd buying saw her later win the Royal Show dry cow championship in the days when competition was tough. Inspiration Lucy was sired by a bull owned by the Warhursts, Savagedale Inspiration and was in turn bred to another bull which Winston owned, the Starbuck son, Romandale Star Chief. The family is therefore a native UK family, fitting in this year of the Holstein Centenary. Lucy 7 could never be described as having a modern sire stack, with the Inspiration Lucy being bred from Deehaven Citation Star daughter, but the four nearest dams sires are all pluses on fertility index (ranging from +3.9 to 8.5) and the Harrisons feel this has made a significant contribution to the robustness and sustainability of Lucy 7 and current generations of the Lucy family at Crossrigg.
During 2003 and 2004 the Weeton Jaguar Jed daughter, Lucy 7 was continuing to come into her own and at local Cumbrian shows was starting to win prizes and develop a loyal following, with compliments coming from the likes of the late Michael Armstrong at Wolfa. By Summer 2004 as a fifth calver she was Reserve Champion to the Durham Roxan cow of Stephen Bells (Holmland) at Penrith and by 2005, having calved again in the June she was unstoppable taking 26 trophies in the ring, while completing a 11,919kg record. This success culminated in an All Britain nomination in the mature cow class, after she had scooped the interbreed champion title at Westmorland, the Grand Championship at Northern Expo, Interbreed championship at the Dairy Event and won the senior cows at the 2006 Agriscot.
The following year she returned to be re-nominated in the All Britains and was a regular senior cow in milk class winner at shows such as Skelton, Appleby and Penrith. By now her ability to breed was also coming through as the family started to win tickets in the Border and Lakeland Herds Competition Best family classes. Amazingly as an eighth calf cow, Lucy 7 returned to win her class at last years Northern Expo, going on to be Honourable Mention, and secure her trio of All Britian mature cow nominations.
Lucy 7 however is so much more than a genuine show cow, she is a cow that has passed her own innate power, capacity and dairy strength on though the generations. The Lucy family was top cow family in the 2009 Border and Lakeland Winter Classic.
Lucy 7 has now yielded over 94 tonnes of milk and last scored EX96 in January making her 5E. She is in calf to the herd sire at Crossrigg, Richaven Majestic VG88 (a Goldwyn son of Mattador Squaw who is also available through Foundation Sires UK), while her eldest daughter is a 64 tonne Robthom Integrity daughter who went EX94- 4E on the same day. The Integrity has the same stamp, and it’s a true picture that is evident in all the Lucys of this line, big powerful cows that still retain an openness and quality of bone, carrying silky udders and moving freely (especially in the case of the older Lucys who belay their age).
Lucy 7s first daughter to carry the Crossrigg prefix is the EX91 3rd calf Tcet Lyster, Lyster Lucy, who overpowers even her dam and Integrity sister. She is due August to Wedgwood Royal, and is a good prospect for the ring later this year and next. In 2007 Crossrigg Lustre Lucy secured the Junior Championship at Northern Expo, showing the families fortitude as young animals in the show ring as well. This Wedgewood Laramie daughter of Lucy 7 is now calved and in the Crossrigg milking herd where she to displays the families natural will to milk, having the strength and capacity to produce and flourish and she is just scored VG86-2yrs. Lustre Lucy is not the only calf from the family to do well though. Under the direction of young handler Alyshia Barraclough, Crossrigg Altitude Lucy was a class winner at the 2008 Border and Lakeland calf show, going on to place 12th in her class at the last national calf show. Altitude Lucy is a January 2008 daughter of Lyster Lucy who gave 13, 287kg in her third, and is sired by KHW Elm Park Acme EX who is himself a brother to the better known red sire Advent Red. John Harrison admits to not chasing fashion when it comes to breeding, favouring the strength and fortitude of cow families, and making decisions based on what will suit their own cows.
Acme is featuring quite heavily on the Lucy family now, especially as Lucy 7 latest offspring is a bull, aptly named, Crossrigg Lucys Legacy, who will the first Lucy offspring to be sold from the farm. Despite numerous attempts by would be purchasers no females or embryos have been sold from this Lucy line, and as John intends to build and develop the family further for his own herd this is not likely to change in the foreseeable future. Tapping into Lucy genetics instead will be afforded by Crossrigg Latitude, a Red carrier young sire again by Acme from Crossrigg Lucy 18 VG87, an Allen grand daughter of Lucy 7 via the EX94-4E Integrity. This young Allen is one of Johns favourite Lucys after Lucy herself, and the 16 month old bull is prolific, producing over 1700 excellent quality straws in his first collection. He will be marketed by Harry Venfield and John Harrison. Meanwhile there are Goldwyn pregnancies from Lucy 18, as there are from the old girl herself. ET work on the family has kept yielding eggs well under the expertise of Debbi McKellar of BESS, and the family will be heavily flushed over the next year to capitalise on its success.
Crossrigg Royal Lucy is another VG heifer in the herd today, sired by the Wedgewood Royal bull, she is still giving over 35kg having already accumulated over 9,000kg in 250 days in her first lactation, and with the family stamps of power and dairy strength, she is worthy of her 87 point heifer classification score. Lucky Leo is her Acme son who has been kept to influence someones herd later in life, with him again being bred from five generations VG or EX, with the same two generation EX Integrity x Weeton Jaguar Jed cross.
With eleven Lucy’s in the milking herd at Cliburn near Penrith, of which ten are scored, and they are all VG or EX (five from this direct line) it is easy to see why the Harrisons think they found a gem in Ewefields Lucy 7 EX96- 5E, for them cows have to live in cubicles, graze and work and for them Lucy and her descendants do that- its just as you have seen they do an awful lot more besides!
This article is reproduced courtesy of Holstein UK