A TOP honour from the British Limousin Cattle Society has been bestowed on a renowned Cumbrian breeder.

Craig Ridley, whose family run one of the foremost pedigree Limousin names in the UK, was chosen to take on the mantle of Honorary President.

Craig was chosen at the society's 49th AGM, and will serve the customary two years in office.

Speaking to The Cumberland News, Craig said it was a 'great honour' to be chosen. "I am delighted to bring this honour to the county. Limousins continue to go from strength to strength enjoying record sales, and will continue to support the society in its aims at breed promotion."

The Haltcliffe herd, run by Craig, wife Sheila, together with Craig's parents, Matthew and Margaret, is a herd with a remarkable history.

Haltcliffe Limousins have grazed the pastures of the Caldbeck fells since the breed's early arrival in the UK, and have enjoyed considerable success since it exploded on the British beef scene during the 1980s and 1990s.The herd was established in 1979 with an original purchase of eight cows and four heifers.

Haltcliffe Limousin herd hit the headlines back in 2006 when the bull Haltcliffe Vermount sold for the world record price of 100,000gns.

Today, Craig runs 80 cows on the farm carrying the prefix Haltcliffe, a name the family took from the hamlet of Haltcliffe, in which the farmstead lies.

Next Saturday, October 17, is the Carlisle Limousin Autumn Bull sale at Borderway Mart when animals from noted herds all over Cumbria and further afield, including Northern Ireland, will grace the ring.

Craig is planning to take six of his top bulls, the first sons from Aultside Meanmachine, the 65,000gns bull he bought in a split deal with Lancashire based Procters Farm Ltd, Slaidburn, Nr Clitheroe, managed by Gary Swindlehurst, back in February 2018 at Carlisle.

Speaking at the close of the sale Craig Ridley said: "I have had my eye on this bull ever since I saw him at the Turriff Show and then judging him at the Stars of the Future Show last year, where I thought he was outstanding. He is a great bull with tremendous length and displaying width and power on tremendous legs. I have never seen him stand wrong. He carries a lot of style about him and has a deep quality pedigree."

Speaking in the past Craig has said: "Our aims and breeding policy have always been the same – to try and breed long, clean, pedigree Limousin bulls with the good shape that the commercial suckled calf breeder wants and at the same time produce big and feminine heifers with class.

"We’ve never set out purely to breed pedigree stock bulls – they are the icing on the cake. Our aim has always been to breed bulls for the commercial suckled calf producer and we must always be aware of the type of bull he wants.

"They must be bulls that can produce him top quality suckled calves at six to nine months old; calves that can benefit from the natural muscle, shape and growth of the sire. And when they sell those suckled calves in the autumn they need them to show as much quality and potential as possible to the buyer. There has to be something in it for him too,” says Craig.

Some of the most notable cow families at Haltcliffe have come through cows that include the imported Renoncule, as well as Romance, Radio and the Cannon-sired Ronick Recole. Cloughhead Rowan (by Heros) and Cloughhead Romany (by Osiris) have both served the herd well.

Other noted Cumbrian names selling animals at the October sale are Bowe of Wiggonby, Neil Hardisty of Cleator Moor, Hutton of Threlkeld, Jenkinsons of Penrith, Priestley of Brampton, Richardson of Dufton, Stobart of Scotby, Watson of Brampton and Steven Wilson, Corby Hill.