Farm Of The Week: ‘New kid on the block’ takes the honours

Clive Rowland
Clive Rowland
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When young bull Garrowby Gizmo was crowned Supreme Champion at this year’s Northern Limousin Extravaganza it made many in the breed raise a collective eyebrow.

The event held at Skipton Auction Market saw the debut of the herd run by Clive Rowland, who manages the 600-acre Home Farm on Garrowby Estate. He was the ‘new kid on the block’ and his young pretender had taken the top honour.

“We only took 13-month-old Gizmo, but taking the title was a nice way to start. He is out of Glenrock Ventura who we bought from Ian Hanley’s Gunnerfleet herd in Ingleton five years ago. We’d hoped Gizmo would do well, but I have to admit we were taken aback a little by his success.

“We were up against many of the established names in the business and that is what made our win particularly sweet. Your own stock always look good at home when you’ve nothing to compare against. Matching yourself up with the rest gives you a far better indication of the quality you are producing. We were pleasantly surprised.”

Clive turned down several offers for Gizmo whilst he was at Skipton as he is keen to develop his fledgling pedigree Limousin herd that presently runs to just five cows. He came to Home Farm a dozen years ago, making the move north from the Suffolk/Essex border to one of the county’s largest and most prestigious estates owned by Lord Halifax. The estate itself runs to some 14,500 acres with around 50 tenant farms.

“Coming here was certainly the best decision I have ever made. The farm is very much a livestock enterprise and it is all set within parkland and grassland.

“We run a herd of 125 suckler cows and replacements, with at present just a handful of pedigree Limousin cows that I am looking to increase to 10 in order to produce a constant stream of quality bulls. The sheep flock runs to 700 Mule and Texel X Mule ewes and is another quality-based enterprise.” Whilst Clive enjoys both sheep and cattle his passion is with the cattle. The move to the Limousin breed was a commercial decision that appears to be paying off in two ways as it is attracting a higher price for the stock than they were achieving previously and it is also developing a reputation.

“When I came here we had 50 Aberdeen Angus cows and we were finding stock difficult to sell locally. I believed it was time for us to change. We went out of them and with the money I received from their sale we set about upgrading the herd.

“I’ve always liked both the Limousin and Belgian Blue breeds and what they bring to a herd, so I bought the best cows I could afford. We now have a grading system that has brought about half-bred to full-bred females and we now breed all our own replacements. I run the whole herd in four groups of approximately 30 cows in each.

“We generally run four stock bulls, three Limousins and one Belgian Blue, criss-crossing them back and forth. We keep some Belgian Blue X heifers to put back on to the Limousin bulls as they produce good calves.

“The best of those are sold to some of the leading showmen. I also pick out 10-12 Limousin and Belgian Blue females each year to keep back as replacements, whilst selling the surplus. The Belgian Blue bulls are also very good breed status.”

Recognising the impact Glenrock Ventura had made to his breeding programme Clive returned to Ian Handley’s herd for the purchase of another of his pedigree Limousin bulls, Gunnerfleet Echo.

“He was the first bull Ian sold out of a bull he had called Dolcorsllwyn Brynmor. He’s slightly different to Ventura, being a bigger, framier bull with good width. We’re looking to put Ventura’s shape on that width for our heifer replacements.”

It’s clear that Clive has seen Glenrock Ventura as the bedrock of his herd, producing a standard that he is now looking to maintain and surpass.

Garrowby Gizmo went on to achieve third place at this year’s Great Yorkshire Show and was Interbreed Supreme Champion at Driffield Show. But Clive realises that although he has had show success the proof of Gizmo’s potential is yet to be seen.

“We’ve rejected some big offers for him. There was a great demand at Skipton, Harrogate and Driffield, but if I sold him I would only have to buy again to replace him. Since Driffield Show we have given him some work with 8-10 of the heifers, but his real work starts next year.”

But for Clive it’s not all about the cattle. Garrowby Estate Farms recently topped the market at the Michaelmas Sale at Malton Livestock Market with a price of £121 for his three-quarter bred Texel gimmer lambs. It was another proud moment in what has proved a very strong year.

“We’ve sold somewhere in the region of 270 Texel x gimmers in the past few months either at the September or Michaelmas sales, or privately. We now get a lot of repeat orders.”

Most of Clive’s livestock, whether cattle or sheep, is sent to either York or Malton markets with some private trade, particularly one or two young bulls that are sold to other local farmers.

“I’m a firm believer in the livestock market for setting the price. We have dabbled in other methods but if you want a realistic future for the industry the livestock market is the only way.”

Lord Halifax takes a healthy interest in what Clive is doing with Home Farm and the livestock enterprise whilst allowing him to make his own decisions. Clive runs the farm as though it is his own and hopes everyone is happy with the way the farm is progressing.

“It is my reputation that’s on the line as much as anyone else’s. Coming up to Yorkshire from the south of England 12 years ago I very quickly realised that I had a lot to prove, especially to those who have always lived here.

“I’ve learned a lot of the Yorkshire dialect and one of the sayings that rings true is you don’t get anything for nothing (‘owt for nowt’). Hopefully, I’ve shown people that I do know a bit about cattle and sheep.”