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February

05

Beef Visions success in Devon! - James Bartlett, Sandyke Farm

James Bartlett is a fifth-generation family farmer at Sandyke Farm, Barnstable, Devon. He manages a summer calving herd of 200 cows and followers and has been working with Cogent since 1995. Mr Bartlett has been using Cogent Beef Visions semen since the programme was first introduced in 2010 and has been receiving fantastic results. The programme has enabled him to produce more British Blue calves, which is bringing financial benefits to the business. Mr Bartlett explains: "British Blues receive higher prices and are what the market desires". With the breed becoming more and more dominant in the dairy industry, James has seen the extra value of bringing these calves into the herd.




Sandyke Farm is home to Swedish Red x Holstein cows that are averaging 8,500 litres. James says, "I select cows based on stature and chest width". He then went onto explain that he finds these cows to be more efficient and are better suited to his system. Mr Bartlett runs a 19% replacement rate from his most elite cows in his herd. These are either sired by his homebred Holstein bull or by AI.

James carries out 100% of the AI using conventional semen across his herd of cows. Most of these calves are sold through Blade Farming at two weeks old to which he receives competitive prices and a convenient outlet. "Blade Farming collect the calves at a young age which avoids the hassle of taking them to market" James says.


The quality of calves is essential at Sandyke Farm as they leave the farm at two weeks old. Mr Bartlett explains: "We haven't found much difference in quality between young bulls and those sires who are proven; they have all produced good quality calves". This is one of the key reasons why James has continued to use Beef Visions semen on his cows.


Mr Bartlett has used a variety of Beef Visions semen including Aberdeen Angus Thrunton Picador and Oakchurch De Admiral. However, he tends to favour towards using British Blue sires such as Kelowna Jimbo and Springhill Improvement. James particularly favours the British Blue sire Auchenlay Hitman "I would really recommend Hitman; his calves are great quality" Mr Bartlett explains. Currently, Sandyke Farm is home to the first Cogent Boroside Ironman calves which also appear to be of exceptional quality with a blue roan coat colour.




When selecting a bull from the Beef on Dairy portfolio James says, "Calving ease is the most important factor, closely followed by coat colour". The selection of these traits is made possible through Cogent's pioneering testing programme which helps validate the genomic prediction of young bulls. 


As James has been incorporating Beef Visions sires into his herd for many years he has been able to return numerous calving surveys. When calves are born, calving surveys are distributed and completed by farmers to access: Calving Ease, Gestation Length, Calf Quality, Calf Colour, and Calf Vigour. This aids improvement in the quality, productivity and profitability of their herds, as well as strengthening the national genetic base.