PEDIGREE British Blue cattle have helped farmers Ross and Elaine Pattinson establish their first farming business together and put it on the map.

The couple, originally from the Wigton area, took on the tenancy of Temon Farm, near Brampton, right on the Cumbria-Northumberland border, in 2011, which set them on the path to establishing their Top Side British Blue herd.

The small herd has been winning accolades in the show ring and leading prices at pedigree sales for the Pattinsons who are joined by their enthusiastic team of children, Lexi, aged seven, Pheobe, six and Seth, four.

While Elaine’s farming background was with breeding and showing pedigree Blue and commercial beef cattle, Ross, immediate past chairman of the Border British BlueClub, has worked with dairy cattle as well as the family’s pedigree Simmental cattle - providing a good spread of experience for the new farming partnership.

The herd has been bred from a select few foundation females using mainly AI and ET to produce a type in between British and Belgian cattle but with the emphasis on muscle, the breed’s important trait. The Pattinsons are also concentrating on a recent discovery of the heterozygous polled gene in the herd - until now a rare gene in the breed.

“The more muscled they are the better for using on rangy Holstein cows,” said Ross. “With dairy breeding in mind, we are also trying to breed a white bull which produces a blue roan calf out of a black and white cow which makes the calf easier to identify as having a Blue sire.”

Elaine’s late father, David Gill, had a herd of Blues at Ireby and used the Blue bull to breed commercial show calves. After David’s passing, the couple got their first pedigree Blue cattle from Elaine’s grandparents and uncle - Lowthwaite Cuddles, a baby calf suckling her dam Wendy Woo. Cuddles is still in the herd.

Further adding to the herd, Ross and Elaine bought Annanwater Adonie from Andy Ryder’s dispersal sale for Elaine’s 21st birthday.

The in-calf Serum d’Anloy daughter produced Low Longthwaite Exel, a bull calf that went on to be the Pattinsons’ first pedigree sale at Carlisle making just under 5,000gns.

Adonie was then flushed to Bluegrass Cyclone and got 15 Grade 1 embryos, resulting in seven lives that were a mix of bulls and heifers. This meant that the first year they moved to Temon from Low Longthwaite, Wigton, we had five bulls for sale which helped set the couple up.

The commercial cattle and Cheviot ewes, with the exception of 16 of the children’s sheep, have been taken over by the cattle at Temon which runs to 560 acres and the contract dairy heifer rearing has made way for a new venture - a 100-cow commercial milking herd.

Top Side British Blues’ most influential foundation female so far has been Rathlyon Dinah, by Heros du Peroy and a daughter of Bringlee Baroness, which has bred the herd’s top priced bulls so far. The Pattinsons say the 3,500gns they paid for Dinah, the overall champion at Carlisle, was the best money they have spent.

Dinah’s calves include their highest priced bull to date Top Side Joey ET, the overall champion making 8,500gns at the society’s January 2017 Carlisle sale. Joey was by the successful sire Fleuron De Maffe, a Dafydd O’Chain son, and the Pattinsons still have straws of semen from him.

Another Dinah embryo son, Top Side Jake, by Boherard Cantona, reserve male champion at the Great Yorkshire Show in 2016, made 5,500gns at the same sale in 2017.

At the society’s September sale that year, Top Side Kupid, a 22-month-old son of Naby Golddust ET and out of Stowbeck Edwina, won first prize in his class and sold for 6,200gns. He has been the herd’s highest liveweight gain bull topping a tonne at 20 months old, putting it in the same weight gain category as many of the other continental breeds, which Ross believes is where the Blues need to be.

Dinah’s daughter, Top Side Isla by Strathearn Carvalho, has excelled in the show ring, winning the breed championship and the premier exhibitor awards at this year’s Great Yorkshire Show.

Isla provided the Pattinsons’ first breed championship win at the Great Yorkshire Show 2019. She was shown with her third calf Top Side Ourboy, a bull, at foot. Isla’s sire was by Gitan a renowned breeder of show calves.

She is half sister to Top Side Jake and Joey and among her many show accolades was the female champion at the Royal Highland Show in 2014.

“Top Side Isla has raised the herd profile. She has been shown since she was 12 months old and she is now six years old past June. She was Dinah’s first natural calf. We intend to flush her during the winter.”

Leaving his mark on the herd has been the bull Naby Golddust bred by the Dents of Lartington, near Barnard Castle. Now nine years old, he is producing Belgian type modern, tall calves which are correct on their legs. One of his sons will be sold at 23 months in January at Carlisle. The Pattinsons have collected semen from him.

“We have been steadily growing the herd with ET and using AI bulls. The herd is now running at 40 pedigrees but we don’t have a lot of room for more. The use of ET means there is less outlay than buying pedigree bulls and females,” said Ross.

“Flushing still has very variable results, mostly on the egg production side but it has improved a lot on holding and it has got us going forward with the herd,” said Ross.

Bulls are sold at 20 months old at working age and they have been fertility-tested. Females have sold privately for in excess of £5,000.

There are three home-bred bulls destined for the Carlisle society sale in January - Dina and Isla sons Top Side Ninja, Noah and Niknak with a further two lined-up for May - Nath and Nowthen both by Kubitus de Bray.

“Our breeding is concentrating on the Dinah line to produce show cattle and the Cuddles line which carries the polled gene and to produce white bulls potentially for AI,” said Ross.

Ross has always been involved with dairy farming and seeing the potential to diversify and future-proof their business through milk production the couple invested in Jersey Friesian cross-bred dairy cattle when prices were low in the summer drought of 2018.

They bought a second-hand 16x16 parlour which Ross had converted to a single-sided herringbone to fit into an existing stone barn which he adapted with a pit. Currently 100 New Zealand-type autumn calving cows are milked through the parlour with the intention of increasing to 120 by this December. The milk is sold to Yew Tree Dairies for the production of cream and milk powder.