Wiltshire Limousin breeder Harry Parker of Home Farm, Stourton, Warminster has been elected to the BLCS Council of Management as representative of the South West region. The announcement was made at the Society’s 41st AGM held on Friday 22nd July at the Royal Highland Show. Mr Parker, who takes over from Colin Hutchings and will serve the customary three year term of office, commented: “I am delighted to have been elected to the BLCS Council and look forward to representing and working on behalf of all Limousin breeders in the South West.”
Harry, together with his wife Jane, have farmed on the Stourhead Estate located on the edge of Salisbury Plain for over 30 years, raising five daughters along the way! The farming enterprise comprises 900 acres – 200 of which is permanent pasture – with the remainder arable. Wheat, malting barley, oats and oilseed rape are all grown. The livestock side consists of the Stourhead Herd of pedigree Limousins together with registered Exmoor Horn sheep.
The Stourhead prefix currently numbers around 60 head of breeding females with the intention being to increase this to 75 by 2013. Established in 1988 with the purchase of foundation stock from the Rochecourt, Uplands, Blackmore and Grange Herds, further females – including seven bought from the Ardlea Production Sale in Southern Ireland in September 2011 – have joined over time. Notable bulls of influence in the herd today are Loosebeare Eager, a Rainbow Simon son purchased privately from Messrs Quick, plus Messrs Ridley’s Haltcliffe Firefly (an Objat son out of a Renoncule daughter) purchased at Carlisle in October 2011.
Says Harry: “Limousins are something I am very passionate about and I was initially drawn into the breed through fatstock showing in mid eighties – winning several championships locally. It soon became evident that an animal with predominantly Limousin breeding achieved the greatest commercial success and I began changing over my crossbred cows to pedigrees.”
He continues by saying that Limousins at any age and type achieve a premium having recently sold four young bulls that were “not making the grade as stock bulls” to top Frome Market at 13-14 months at 228ppkg. Overall, the four averaged 222ppkg or £1,375 per head – which is good for South West prices! he adds. Having served on the committee of the South West Limousin Club for the past four years, last July he organised an Open Day at FC Cottle & Sons in Wiltshire, attracting over 150 people. “It’s important to showcase how a suckler herd can be a commercially viable venture through capitalising on the renowned Limousin attributes of easy calving, thriftiness and conformation,” he says.
Progressing from commercial crossbreds and fatstock showing to the pedigree sphere has helped Harry appreciate the importance of promoting the Limousin breed to the commercial farmer. “I am a great advocate of the idea that shows, sales and Open Days are effectively a ‘shop window’ from which to display the advantages of Limousin genetics to commercial and pedigree farmers alike. The last 40 years have seen great improvements in the breed and I firmly believe it is paramount that the Society continues to promote the key attributes that are synonymous with the Limousin – namely easy calving, easy-care, marketing flexibility and total carcase quality.”