Scottish regional winner, Andrew Hornall's Stirling-based Falleninch herd, has triumphed to win the overall Ben Harman award presented to the Charolais herd for showing the highest genetic gain over the year.

The 20-cow-strong herd showed an improvement of +9.8 on SRI in the past 12 months, ending the year on an average of +41.

Society vice-chairman and award founder, Ben Harman said: “The Self Replacing Index (SRI) is one of the key measures of genetic progress in British Charolais Cattle, and the Harman awards recognise those herds with the greatest % age improvement in SRI over the previous 12-month period. 

"I am delighted that such well-established herds have won the awards in each region this year, between them, the four herds boast 131 years of experience breeding British Charolais.  This demonstrates that the inclusion of performance data can enhance even the most experienced breeders’ businesses.”

He added that the requirement for accurately recorded performance data is driven by commercial beef producers, who recognise the extra value of Charolais-sired cattle in the store markets and abattoirs the length and breadth of the UK. 

"Breedplan performance data helps our customers identify the type of Charolais which best suit their needs, this data combined with visual assessment of potential bulls ensures that the crossing men can choose bulls which will give them the maximum return for their enterprises. This in turn ensures that those customers will return time and again to buy Charolais which have been proven in study after study to outperform all other breeds as a terminal sire," said Mr Harman.

The Falleninch herd, which was established in 1973, joined the Breedplan scheme when it was adopted by the society in 2007, recognising the importance recording would have to the improvement of the herd.

Andrew, a third generation Charolais breeder who farms 300 acres of permanent grass across two holdings, grazes 250 commercial cattle per year on a New Zealand-style grass grazing system. The high-quality beef produced supplies his Falleninch Farm butchery business. His main focus is on strong maternal traits which ensures that his Falleninch herd is a regular and successful exhibitor at shows and sales.

Andrew said “I am really pleased to be awarded the top spot in this great competition, which through its selection process helps to enhance the integrity of the Charolais breed.

"Our purchase of Fairway Jefferson has helped us achieve our improvement this year and our customers seem to think so to, as his first son sold for 12,000gns at Stirling last month.” 

Runners-up were the English regional winners Jeremy, Ala Price, Mia and Ryan Price with a yearly SRI Improvement of +9.3 and a total average of +59 for their Herefordshire herd. The Price’s Oakchurch herd  comprises  20 cows with females kept as replacements and bulls sold for breeding.

Heading up the Northern Ireland pack was the Coolnaslee herd of Jonathan Crawford, whose father the late Gilbert Crawford established the Charolais herd in 1993. Managed by Stuart Wilson the Maghera-based unit has shown a 12-month improvement of +8.2 and their total average is +39.7.

Also joining Breedplan in 2007 Gilbert, who was always keeping an eye out for new opportunities to develop his herd, knew how to push the boundaries, with others benefiting from his experience and also working to keep pace and move with the times.

Lead herd in Wales with a total average of +39.9 was Esmor Evans’ Flintshire-based Maerdy herd. The 1973 established herd also joined Breedplan early on and has moved from strength to strength with their 140-cow pedigree herd based on a 1000ft hill farm.