A world renowned herd of pedigree dairy cows will go under the hammer in Shropshire later this month. Graham and Shirley Madeley of Rodway Manor, Kinnersley, Telford will be dispersing their entire 175-head Rodway herd of pedigree Shorthorns on May 22 and auctioning one heifer calf off for charity.
A World renowned herd of pedigree dairy cows will go under the hammer in Shropshire later this month. Graham and Shirley Madeley of Rodway Manor, Kinnersley, Telford will be dispersing their entire 175-head Rodway herd of pedigree Shorthorns on May 22 and auctioning one heifer calf off for charity.
“It has been a hard decision to have made but we are not getting any younger,” said Graham. “I was 65 last year and now require a hip replacement operation and we want to do more travelling.
Although he and Shirley have had many enjoyable trips abroad they have only travelled once together in 34 years, one of them always staying at home to run the farm.
“We have plans to do more travelling before we reach the age where staying at home is the only option. Our son Andrew and his friend Matt set off last August from London to cycle to Sydney Australia and it would be nice to greet them on their arrival at the finish,” Graham said.
Graham is currently president of the Shorthorn Society of UK and Ireland, a job he will hand over in July after being the only president to have spent four years in office. Two years ago the delegates for the World Shorthorn conference visited the farm.
As well as feeling his age Graham is fed up of the red tape that hounds the industry and although the farm is TB free he is worried that it is problem that might come knocking at the door.
“We certainly won’t miss the paperwork. As soon as we get used to one set of hurdles they are supplemented by even higher ones. We don’t enjoy that side of farming,” he said.
Graham’s grandfather Samuel Ambrose Madeley moved to Rodway Manor in 1898 and the Madeley family has been breeding Dairy Shorthorns ever since. His father, John Arthur Cyril was the first Madeley to be born at the Rodway in 1902 and he started grading the herd up to pedigree status in the 1930s.
“ Sadly in 1967 we lost the whole herd to a major foot and mouth epidemic. At this time my father took my brother John and myself into the business. The chance to change breeds was never debated, as we were safe in the knowledge that the Dairy Shorthorn’s adaptability would satisfy any farm regime and provide us with a good living,” Graham recalls.
The new herd was formed with mainly private purchases including Wombridge Red Rose, a family that has continued to thrive within the herd.
They were extremely lucky to purchase the nucleus of the Wendest herd and so started to breed the Tiny, Rhoda, Flower and Barrington Duchess families. Other notable families are Foggathorpe Primrose, Lady Laura, Butterbur and Lady Barrington. In 2000 Graham took the opportunity to buy in some Danish Red Cattle and these have bred extremely well particularly the Bluma, Jenna, Lisbet and Greta families.
In 1989 Graham’s brother John retired and he took over the farm solely with his wife Shirley who took on sole responsibility for rearing the young stock.
“We made the decision in 1998 to convert to Organic production and at the same time a switch to extended rotational grazing to make the most of our cheapest feed; grazed grass. The cows graze for at least nine months of the year," Graham said.
“The Dairy Shorthorn traits of longevity, good fertility and low maintenance contribute to our benchmark figures which put us in the top ten per cent of herds for profit per litre. In the winter the cows are cubicle housed and self-fed grass silage with an eighteen per cent cake fed twice daily at milking in an eight-sixteen parlour. The cows are not buffer fed during the summer,” he said.
Showing has provided many highs for the Madeleys who have won many interbreed awards including ; Interbreed Heifer Champion at the 2008 Royal Show, Interbreed Progeny Group at the 2010 Highland and on numerous occasions Interbreed Progeny Pair at Cheshire Show to name but a few.
“I have always had the greatest satisfaction from winning the milking trials at the Dairy Event and collecting lifetime production certificates. Rodway Flower 9th Ex91 is currently our highest yielding cow to date producing over 108,000kg. We have always entered the North Midland Herd Competition winning Champion herd in 2009 and 2010.
“Dairy farming is always hard work and long hours but working with our herd has always been a tremendous pleasure however one deteriorating arthritic hip has changed the situation. But I am confident that the cattle on offer will provide both enjoyment and a profitable future for the buyer,” he added.
The herd has received acclaim in many parts of the world and Graham hopes to export some semen and Embryos to New Zealand and Australia once he can get through the red tape.
In the sale catalogue, leading Australian Shorthorn breeder Neville Mueller reaps praise on the Rodway herd: “The Shorthorn cattle in the UK have exceeded my expectations with their temperament, feet, legs and very good mammary system and longevity. “The Rodway herd has all these features and if it was in Australia would be one of the best in the country as it would be in North America.
“It is truly a rare opportunity for dairy farmers to access these genetics . Worldwide we should acknowledge Graham as a Master Breeder of cattle.” Mr Mueller said.
Graham and Shirley are planning to sell a heifer calf out of their 108,000kg lifetime production cow Rodway Flower 9 EX at the sale for charity Warchild which their son is raising fund for on his cycle trip.
Auctioneer: Frank Marshall