The dairy farming Morley family have, without fail, competed at the Borderway UK Dairy Expo since it was launched six years ago.

And this year the family, who farm the 121 hectare Petteril Bank Farm, near Southwaite, aim at this year's flagship event in Carlisle, to be competitive in all the classes they have entered.

"For us, Borderway UK Dairy Expo is a great shop window to advertise our herd," said Stephen. "It is a very enjoyable event because you get to view and compete with some of the best dairy cattle in the UK."

Although Stephen, a first-generation farmer, has never achieved a first place at the event, he has always been extremely happy with his accomplishments, particularly at last year's show when the five-year-old Feizor Knowledge S Melody, jointly owned with the Hodgson family, who own the Wormanby herd at Burgh by Sands, took the overall best udder in show title.

Stephen and Ann Morley "We just aim to be competitive. The line-up at Dairy Expo features some fantastic cows, with some of the best dairy genetics from all over the world. To be recognised in any way is an achievement," added Stephen.

Stephen and wife, Ann's 16-year-old son, Robert, is a regular face in Young Handler classes. Studying at the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Penrith, he is currently working towards GCSE exams this summer.

Robert is also a member of the Border & Lakeland Holstein Young Breeders Club, and is heavily involved with Skelton Young Farmers Club.

At weekends, and during school holidays, Robert takes an active role on the home farm when he helps with milking, as well as heifer/calf feeding.

In addition, he has recently passed his tractor test which will allow him to take on much more on the farm this summer.

As a breeder and showman, Robert finds the process of selecting a calf from its pen, training it to lead, washing and clipping before finally showing it off at its best in the show ring extremely rewarding.

His aim is to qualify at the local Border & Lakeland Club Calf Show with one of his own calves from Petteril, and then take it on to represent his club at the All Britain All Breeds Calf Show.

Robert said he loves meeting up with fellow Holstein Young Breeder members from all over the country as the Dairy Expo. "It's also a great opportunity to see some of the best cows in the UK competing on our doorstep. The Young Handler classes are fantastic for gaining showing experience and I am looking forward to seeing the quality of the entries for this year."

As well as attention the Dairy Expo, the Morley family do try to attend a few national shows each year, as well as various local shows.

Stephen and Ann took over the running of Petteril Bank Farm in 1995 when Ann’s parents purchased another farm near Carlisle. They are joined at the Dairy Expo with son Robert and their 13-year-old daughter Anna.

Of the 121ha, the Morley family own 97ha and rent a further 24ha. The dairy herd consists of 200 head of Holstein cows plus followers. The milking herd is managed in two separate groups, low yielding and high yielding cows, who are both milked twice per day through a Westfalia 14/28 milking parlour.

Calving takes place all year round with all cows being put to a Holstein bull. The herd are monitored using heat detection methods and then two thirds are served by artificial insemination (A.I.). The remaining third are served naturally by the Morley’ stock bull, although no bulls run with the herd.

All heifer calves are kept as replacements and the Morley’s aim for them to calve down for the first time at 13 months. Bull calves are all sold at one month of age through the Harrison & Hetherington weekly sales at Borderway Mart, Carlisle.

Herd nutrition is based on a diet of home-grown grass silage and wholecrop wheat, which is mixed with a cereal blend and molasses. Both groups are fed once a day, although a different mix is given to the high and low yielders. In parlour feeders also meant cows are fed a controlled quantity of concentrate at milking times.

Alongside the dairy herd, Stephen and Ann run a small herd of pedigree Limousin cattle. These all originate from one cow, Bankdale Gracie, who was purchased as a calf by Stephen, at the Bankdale dispersal sale in July 2011. Gracie is out of the prolific brood cow, Bankdale Alice, who is now owned by the Alford family who run the Foxhill Limousin herd.

Commenting on the future of the Petteril Holstein herd, Stephen said: “We aim to breed a cow which is a consistent type and profitable. We also continue to strive for longevity within the herd.”

Thousands of visitors are expected to flock to Carlisle on March 11 for the event which will be showcasing the very best of British dairy genetics and industry innovations.

Last year the event held at the Borderway Exhibition Centre at Rosehill attracted over 6,000 visitors with hundreds of cattle competing for the top prizes.

Harrison & Hetherington’s Borderway UK Dairy Expo is set to return with an overall prize fund of £15,000.

Last year, the star of the show was Alister Laird, of Blyth Bridge in Peebleshire. Alister and his family won three championship awards, including Champion of Champions with a five year old Holstein cow, Illens Atwood Australia. Alister was also presented with the John Dennison Award for his contributions to the Dairy industry.

The highlight of the 2017 event is the 67 cattle classes, which include sections for Holsteins, Ayrshire, Jersey, Dairy Shorthorn, Red and White, Brown Swiss and British Friesian, who are also hosting their National Show.

Another key event in this year’s schedule is the Showmanship Youth Championships. Aimed at encouraging and inspiring the next generation of dairy breeders, this event will bring together young breeders from across the UK and Europe to compete for the top honours.

David Pritchard, event organiser and operations director for Harrison and Hetherington, said: “Since its inception back in 2011, Borderway UK Dairy Expo has become the premiere Dairy Event in the UK. Once again this year we have a remarkable line-up of judges, all with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the industry, and all specialists in their field.

“We have a fantastic number of dairy cattle entered in the show classes, which really does showcase the quality of the British dairy industry, and the extreme hard work of those involved, not only on the day, but on a day to day basis.”

Judging the classes will be a line-up of British and International judges: Roger Turner, of Wisconsin in America, will judge the Holstein classes; Canada’s Blair Weeks, of Prince Edward Island, will judge the Coloured breed classes; the UK’s Meurig James will judge the British Friesian National Show; Paul Harrison, of Northumberland, will judge the Champion of Champions and Michael Halliwell, also from the UK, will judge the UK and International Showmanship Championships.