Purebred bull now sought for Sussex herd

UK - A former award-winning dairy farmer now plans to find success in a niche beef market.
calendar icon 4 November 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
Robin and Pat Dickson enjoyed local and national show ring success with their top-class Holstein dairy cows and they saw their future in breeding but, just as they were to launch themselves on the world market, BSE struck and their dreams were dashed overnight.

A falling milk price, and then foot-and-mouth, saw them quit dairying and diversify into a major livery and equestrian centre and that remains their main livelihood, but Mr Dickson has now started to build a pedigree herd of native Sussex cattle.

The couple, and their son Richard, run Upsall Grange Farm and Equestrian centre at Nunthorpe, near Middlesbrough on 278 acres overlooking Roseberry Topping.

Mr Dickson said: "I can't really believe what has happened over the years ... how long it took to build the dairy herd and how fast to dismantle it."

At their peak, the Holsteins numbered 200 milkers and 150 youngstock but a drop in milk price from 27p to 16p a litre, coupled with the loss of export opportunities, meant the herd was no longer viable.

The decision to quit was heart-wrenching but clearly right.

They had already sold a large part of the herd when they launched a small scale livery in November 2000. Today's 90-stable livery opened at the end of 2004 and has proved a tremendous success. Features include an indoor and outdoor arena; horse walker; all-weather gallop and all-weather ride; cross country course, and many events and competitions, along with lessons from leading riders.

The livery stables are almost full and, despite the number, the centre has gained a reputation for friendliness.

Now Mr Dickson is keeping his hand in farming by starting the herd of Sussex cattle. As his wife said: "You can't take the farm out of the farmer."

Source: darlingtonandstocktontimes.co.uk
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