The Power of Partnership: How Cogent and Bradash are Ensuring Genetic Progress for The Friesian Breed

A Heritage of British Friesian Breeding

Nestled away in a picturesque area of Derbyshire you will find the Bradash herd. Residing at Hall Farm in Derbyshire the herd dates back to 1943 with four generations of history now being owned and managed by Stewart & Helen Archer. The herd offers an illustrious history with many herd awards over the years and most recently being crowned winners of the British Friesian Herd competition in 2023 as well as being home to the winning older cow with Bradash Apeldoorn 23, the dam of both, Bradash Contender and Trailblazer, both residing at Cogent.

The herd of 140 cows at Hall Farm offer impressive performance to go with the rich heritage with the herd averaging nearly 8000 litres at 4.9% Fat and 3.49% Protein, whilst also achieving an impressive average of 5 lactations across the herd. In fact, the oldest cow in the herd is now 18 years old having completed 15 lactations and produced 120 tonnes of milk. However, longevity has not compromised on genetic progress with the herd consistently improving year on year.

The herd comprises over 30 excellent scored cows, with many young heifers scored VG, including a half-sister to Contender and Trailblazer sired by another Cogent sire Kirkby Jupiter.

Bradash Friesian Calves
Bradash Friesian Calves

Breeding for a Profitable Future

Stewart and Helen focus on maintaining high milk production from the herd whilst also wanting an animal that offers strength and excellent functional type. Their aim is to create a hardy cow offering longevity on a low-input system. A basic diet of grass silage and concentrate is fed to the cows through the winter, whilst through the summer months the dairy herd graze the surrounding pastures. Bought in feeds are kept to a minimum.

With this in mind, genetic selection has been extensive over the years and Cogent progeny is at the forefront throughout the herd. Stewart & Helen also take advantage of Cogent’s extensive suite of tools on offer with 4M Ultraplus used widely and making use of our MAP & DNA services to assess the herd.

Collaborative Success

The strong relationship between Cogent and the Archer Family started over 20 years ago but has really strengthened in the past 5 years and has been an integral part in the success of Cogent’s British Friesian Breeding Programme. Having produced 3 bulls for Cogent over this period the partnership has proved extremely successful.

The foundation of this success has been created through strategic genomic testing and contract matings being put in place for the elite animals in the herd. Focus is placed on the desirable traits needed to achieve progression for the herd but equally to breed animals suitable for AI. Contract matings are currently in place in the top 5% of the herd. This highlights the emphasis placed on finding the genetic elite within any herd Cogent works with.

Herd inspection occurs twice a year giving both parties an opportunity to discuss current contracts and assess any potential new animals to add into the programme. Recently, contract matings have produced 2 extremely exciting heifers that have instantly moved into the programme.

Stuart & Helen Archer with Cogent Area Sales Manager Will Astley
Stuart & Helen Archer with Cogent Area Sales Manager Will Astley

Stewart & Helen say “Working with Cogent over the last 5 years has been fantastic, we really look forward to their input with contract matings and as a result we always strive to breed better. They consider our breeding goals with any decisions and we are always involved in discussions before the final decision is made. We have really seen the benefits of being involved in the programme and now have a number of high-ranking females in the herd as well as putting the 3 bulls into Cogent.”

Cogent’s breeding strategy for the matings considers the future direction of the breed ensuring bulls are both suited to commercial and pedigree settings. The aim is to produce bulls with unique pedigrees and highly desirable traits, whether that be Index, Production, Health or Functional Type. The programme offers something for every breeder using British Friesian genetics in the UK.

Will Astley, Cogent’s Area Sales Manager for the Central Region says “Cogent is passionate about the Friesian breed, working with farmers across the country. Stewart and Helen’s passion for the Friesian breed shines through along with exceptional management. We have built a highly successful working relationship offering opportunities for both parties and working towards a common goal.”

Over the years, the joint efforts of Cogent and Stewart and Helen have yielded highly successful bulls like Tournament (born in 2006 but still boasting a converted £238 PLI in 2024), Contender, and Patriot (Cogent's consistently best-selling Friesian bull since 2022). All of these bulls have had a significant impact on the Friesian breed and have been heavily used in both commercial and pedigree settings.

Bradash Patriot Red
Bradash Patriot Red

An Exciting Future

Through the work Cogent have done with the Archer family, genomic testing is now part of the standard protocol on farm for Friesian Heifers and is proving a useful tool in early selection of females for dairy matings. Current bulls being used include Inch Mint, Inch Jay, Inch Jake, Bankhouse Braveheart, Bradash Trailblazer, Bradash Patriot Red and Inch Perky.

Through the adoption of cutting-edge breeding technologies, rigorous selection protocols, and adaptive management strategies, Cogent, along with the support of partner herds, have been able to position themselves at the forefront of progression within the British Friesian breed in recent years. Cogent are already looking to the future continuing to work with herds across the country and Stewart and Helen will continue to play a pivotal role in the programme’s success.

The partnership with Stewart and Helen is a great example of the Cogent Difference and how Cogent can work collaboratively with partners to produce future sires for other herds around the country and ensure they benefit the herds they work with through increased genetic gain.

For more information

Submit your email address for more details

Please enter a valid email address.