National trophy delight for Shropshire dairy farming family
A Shropshire family are celebrating being the cream of the crop after they were named as the best dairy farmers in the UK.
The Higgins family, from Pulverbatch near Shrewsbury, won the Gold Cup at the National Livestock Show in Birmingham for their work in running Wilderley Hall Farm.
The 360-acre farm has been in the family's hands for nearly 50 years and Bill Higgins, 47, said it had been his father's lifelong ambition to win the trophy.
"We were stunned. Our dad is in his early 70s and he has always wanted to win the Gold Cup, which has been going since the 1920s," he said.
The family business is run by brothers Bill and Andrew, supported by parents Bill and Margaret.
Bill Jr said: "My parents have been here for 48 years and we have been part of the business for the last 20."
The farm was visited in June by four judges, who toured the site and interviewed the family about their methods.
The judges' assessment said: "The Higgins have increased cow numbers and performance on their 145-hectare unit in the past 15 years through breeding their own top quality replacements.
"A team of three full-time staff and five part-time milkers are part of the Wilderley Hall team. They are an asset that the Higgins fully appreciate."
Ian Macalpine, Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers chairman and head of the Gold Cup judging team, said the management of the farm's Holstein Wilderley herd was a shining example to the rest of the industry. "Every aspect of calf rearing through to the milking herd's routines is managed with great care and to an exceptional standard," he said."
Shropshire NFU chairman David Mills, who farms at Craven Arms, said: "This is the big award for the dairy industry, so to be shortlisted is a fantastic achievement and to be crowned champion is something that those in the sector aspire to.
"We would like to congratulate the Higgins family as this is a just reward for all of their hard work and dedication to make the Wilderley herd one of the very best."
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